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Analyst Calls SWTOR Sales Concerns "overdone"

Posted Fri, Jan 20, 2012 by Martuk

Yesterday EA’s stock took a dip amidst concerns about Star Wars: The Old Republic’s (SWTOR) sales performance. While the analyst group at Macquarie Securities states that there are some concerns, they’ve also called the recent that the game isn’t selling as well as first hoped “overdone.”

SWTOR managed to entice more than one million players to sign up for a subscription in the first three days of launch. That of course, doesn’t take into account anyone that might have changed their minds since then, but out the gate that’s still pretty good in terms of box sales.

Macquarie's Ben Schachter believes that EA’s dip in stock prices is due in part to speculation regarding sales figures from outside parties. While NPD sales tracked appeared weak, the analyst believes a majority of SWTOR copies were sold through EA’s Origin platform, which have yet to be accounted for.

In light of this, the company has stuck with its "Outperform" rating, and believes that the game may achieve initial sell-in sales of 1.5 million -- although Schachter was quick to note that long-term sustainability of subscribers to the game is currently unclear.

Source: Gamasutra

Ummm... Do they not understand how MMOs work? Warhammer and AoC both had 800K in the first month. AoC was so bad that it had about 100K in the second month. Warhammer took 6 months to drop to 100K.

I've been following the sales. About 1.3 million the first week including pre-orders. About 270K the next. 95K the next. 57K the next. Time will tell if that holds steady... But I don't think it will.

Also, it's no secret that in MMOs about 50% of players leave in the first six months. MMO churn is natural. WoW may have 10 million players. But they all haven't been there since 2004/2005... Lots and lots leave. Others start. Every now and then you throw out a big expansion pack and the old guys come back for a few months, then they leave again.

WoW has managed to, over the years, keep a larger long-term base than most MMOs. Which has lead greatly to its success. But WoW is an outlier for that. In new clients, it performs like everyone else. For example, they're very clear that they lose 70% of trial accounts before Level 10. Now, those are free so people aren't going to be stubborn and stick with it like they will with a purchased client. But it illlustrates a point -- it's hard to keep people in today's market.

What I'd be concerned with is the server traffic. Two weeks ago was a full week after the kids went back to school. Server traffic was running 600K-to-700K at peak. Now it's running at 300K-400K at peak.

And that's not because people are playing less. During the 'hey dayshinyshiney new penny that is SWTOR, the average SWTOR player was playing five hours a day. They still are, it simply has not changed as a statistic so it can't explain the drop. The only thing that's changed is the number of people who are actually playing.

So I'd be thinking 'Warhammer' with my 'concerns.' And while nobody has perfect future vision, we do have good examples. And this example is NOT the WoW growth example. It is, however, very similar to the Warhammer example.

Big spike, quickly falling retail sales and steep (but not precipitous) decline utilizationlitization due to lack of interest. Which, in turn, lead to cancellations and ultimately, failure of the IP.

Brilliant comment. I love when posters actually talk statistics it makes debate so much more reasonable. I do think 'they' understand how MMO's work however it is in the best interests of analysts not to make predictions that are too definite or grand, and in the best interests of EA to put such talk down as it is bad for there investors (as the article shows).

Lot's of numbers you cite there, but where did they come from? Call me skeptical.

Whatever the numbers are that you want to cite, there is no way, no how, that SWTOR is another Warhammer Online in the making. I beta tested both games, been through the launches of both, and it's night and day. Warhammer was doomed from the beginning. SWTOR, on the other hand, has maintained good momentum. I haven't seen any dropoff in my server's numbers after passing the one-month renewal plateau. And I still don't see any signs of dropoff. Everyone on my friends list continues to play, compared to Warhammer Online, where most of the people on my friends list became MIAs just a month into the game. I'm also skeptical of the traffic numbers you cite. They don't jive with what I've seen.

Ummm... Do they not understand how MMOs work? Warhammer and AoC both had 800K in the first month. AoC was so bad that it had about 100K in the second month. Warhammer took 6 months to drop to 100K.

I've been following the sales. About 1.3 million the first week including pre-orders. About 270K the next. 95K the next. 57K the next. Time will tell if that holds steady... But I don't think it will.

Also, it's no secret that in MMOs about 50% of players leave in the first six months. MMO churn is natural. WoW may have 10 million players. But they all haven't been there since 2004/2005... Lots and lots leave. Others start. Every now and then you throw out a big expansion pack and the old guys come back for a few months, then they leave again.

WoW has managed to, over the years, keep a larger long-term base than most MMOs. Which has lead greatly to its success. But WoW is an outlier for that. In new clients, it performs like everyone else. For example, they're very clear that they lose 70% of trial accounts before Level 10. Now, those are free so people aren't going to be stubborn and stick with it like they will with a purchased client. But it illlustrates a point -- it's hard to keep people in today's market.

What I'd be concerned with is the server traffic. Two weeks ago was a full week after the kids went back to school. Server traffic was running 600K-to-700K at peak. Now it's running at 300K-400K at peak.

And that's not because people are playing less. During the 'hey dayshinyshiney new penny that is SWTOR, the average SWTOR player was playing five hours a day. They still are, it simply has not changed as a statistic so it can't explain the drop. The only thing that's changed is the number of people who are actually playing.

So I'd be thinking 'Warhammer' with my 'concerns.' And while nobody has perfect future vision, we do have good examples. And this example is NOT the WoW growth example. It is, however, very similar to the Warhammer example.

Big spike, quickly falling retail sales and steep (but not precipitous) decline utilizationlitization due to lack of interest. Which, in turn, lead to cancellations and ultimately, failure of the IP.

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