In the current gaming environment, where the cost of a gamer's dollar is being exceedingly stretched thinner and thinner, players have to be extremely picky about what titles they choose to play. The current king of the MMO world for the past seven years, World of Warcraft, has been perched on the top of the charts with no signs of relenting.
BioWare Co-Founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk was not completely happy with the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, but the game did hit the ground running with a very successful launch in terms of the number of subscribers. Blizzard is taking notice and has acknowledged that the MMO from the incredibly popular science fiction universe is having an adverse impact on World of Warcraft subscriber levels. After peaking at 12 million users in November 2010, Blizzard reported that one year later, World of Warcraft had lost 1.7 million subscribers.
Though Blizzard has not released any numbers since Star Wars: The Old Republic launched in December, the fact that they are trying to bring back inactive players with their Scroll of Resurrection campaign (where inactive players can upgrade one character to level 80; upgrade to Cataclysm for free; move realm or faction for free; and enjoy seven days of free game time) shows that there is some concern about the competitions' offerings. Senior World of Warcraft producer John Lagrave said Blizzard does look at the migration.
"We certainly do look at (where WOW players go), and we have a very smart bunch of guys who do our analytics for us.
Of course people are trying Star Wars - our development team are trying Star Wars! I'm one of the few people who's still playing it actually, but yeah we've seen a dip in subs. It certainly has to at least be attributable to The Old Republic, but it's also attributable to people who want to wait and get Mists of Pandaria, so it's not surprising.
Are they going elsewhere? Yes they are. We don't have a lock on all the best games in the world - Skyrim was an amazing game."
Blizzard currently offers new players a completely free game environment up to level 20, though past that point, players will start having to pay. Lagrave said that other options could be looked at.
"We could certainly look at extending the level of the trial. What you can do in the trial in terms of the amount of gold that you can have and all that kind of stuff.
There's a fair amount that you can experience up to level 20, because you really get most of the core systems in by that point.
But we can absolutely say, 'Hey, why don't we make it level 40?' 'Why don't we make it level 60?', do we let you at least experience the old world? It's all possible.
Right now, no," he added, "but that's all absolutely on the table."
Lagrave did stop short of saying World of Warcraft would ever go to a free to play model, saying that the business model currently in use is very solid and there are no plans to make a switch.
"Mike (Morhaime) talks about the value we give you for that price-point, and that's a fairly legitimate statement. Certainly a very cheap form of entertainment. So yeah, we're comfortable with the subscription system. I won't say never on that, but gosh not now and it's been seven years! You'd think we'd have gotten there before now, so I don't think so."
PC Ranters, are you playing both MMO titles, or just one of them? Which one do you think has the better chance to end up on top?
World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic are both currently available on the PC.
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