A whole two days!?!?

BioWare gives SW players a two day grace period.

Game costs 300m+ to make. Probably another 300m+ spent in marketing hype. Another $30 or so spend on soon-to-be-regrettable tattoos (Hey cool tattoo, what is it? Oh this, it’s the logo from the biggest financial disaster from 2012. Yea drove the biggest publisher in the world to bankruptcy, and ruined the once-stellar name of the developer. Looks cool though right? Hello…?) And now TWO FREE DAYS? How can EA afford all of this madness?

Seems kinda odd too right? Like SW:TOR is an MMO (bhahaha) that’s going to be played for years and years by its player base (bhahahahahahaha), so why stress people out initially by going with no grace period, and now announce a pathetic two days?

It’s almost like BioWare is afraid people might only stick around for a few weeks or something, and want to make sure they squeeze every last day/cent out of people before the voice acting ends and the game-over screen rolls. Kind of a strange approach for the world hottest ‘MMO’ with thousands of hours of content…

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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49 Responses to A whole two days!?!?

  1. How many days did Trion give Rift players after the pre-order head start? That was the last such launch I can remember… and obviously not very well.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    Did you just jump your own ironic shark? Biggest financial disaster of 2012? I think there might be a few bigger candidates for that waiting in the wings. It’s not very likely SW:ToR will even lose money, is it? let alone compete with entire countries going bankrupt or major banks failing…

  3. Liore says:

    Hey, you don’t think SWTOR is an MMO, you don’t think people will be playing it long, and you don’t think it’s very good. Hey, cool, strong opinions are what it’s all about.

    But biggest financial disaster of 2012? Haha, really? Dude, you are going to look back at that in six months and roll your eyes at yourself. I’m not saying anything about the quality of the game, but it quite objectively sold a buttload of copies already.

    • SynCaine says:

      WAR sold a million boxes too.

      The % of revenue gained from a monthly sub dwarfs the % from a box.

      And at 300m+, EA is not just banking on selling 4m boxes and calling it a day.

      • Professer says:

        And we all know how great the game will be at retaining its subscribers.

      • Azuriel says:

        4m * $60 = ?

        The $300m will be recouped, guaranteed. Earlier this year, EA said it needs 500k to be profitable. Even Warhammer still has 100k subs, and that game was garbage in beta, garbage when it went live, and especially garbage right now. Rift is at 475k at the moment, and LoTRO is hovering in EVE territory, aka 350k.

        Carry on with the hysterics though.

      • Barrista says:

        WAR sold a million boxes… at $60 to $150 each? Lots of people wanted that statue and ordered the Collector’s ed. And those are probably many of the people who need a grace period since you can’t really download a statue.

    • loire says:

      300 million production cost right out of the gates not including feature debugging, future content, future voice acting.

      60 dollars a box, 13-15 dollars a month in subscriptions.

      You do the math.

  4. Bernard says:

    Biggest financial disaster of 2012? I wouldn’t bet on it.

    In the current climate, even DCUO seems to be doing all right, having gone F2P.

  5. Carson says:

    This isn’t actually two free days is it? Your free month subscription would surely start at the point you activate your account and start playing.. this is just two days to get your box and enter the code to prove that you’re entitled to be there.

    Having said that.. why does EA find this so goddamn hard?? With WAR they lied through their teeth, telling people there was a grace period and then cancelling it at the last minute. With SW:TOR, they tell people there is no grace period and then at the last minute announce that there will be one after all. WHY IS IT SO HARD?

    • Barrista says:

      Actually, they told people back in July that there would be a grace period. Or rather, one of Bioware’s guys said there would be. When they announced that they were upping the early access from 5 to 7 days, they also announced that there would be no grace period. People quoted the original forum posting and complained about the sudden lack of grace period. Now there is a grace period.

  6. saucelah says:

    I think taking Syncaine literal in a post like this is about as great an idea as assuming he thinks he knows all there is to know about a game when he does an EG-style review.

    That said, I think the tattoos are completely ridiculous. If I’d been one of those guys or just one of their friends, I would have tried to get them to wait for the six month point. I doubt the game will fail completely and shutdown, but that doesn’t mean that getting the game to launch is an accomplishment worth wearing on your skin for the rest of your life.

  7. Bernard says:

    As a meta discussion, will there ever be a day when we see an end to “I like my game better than your game, so I hope your game is a financial disaster…”?

    • saucelah says:

      As long as there is a limited number of people playing such games, even if that limit came to be the entire human population, and as long as money still has meaning, then no, we will not.

    • Azuriel says:

      On this blog? Is that a joke?

    • Barrista says:

      Probably not. Some people have more testosterone than others. Also, I kind of view as rooting on your favorite football team and hoping the others lose. Personally, until Bioware, the Saints, the Yankees, start paying me, I don’t care either way.

    • SynCaine says:

      The day the last big themepark closes.

      Then I’ll cheer on your sandbox as I play i mine, hoping the competition between them makes both games better.

  8. XeroFive says:

    Heh, BioWare doesn’t give a grace period and they get bashed. BioWare gives one, and they’re still bashed because it isn’t long enough.

    Here’s a question. Why would someone who obviously is too busy to take 10 minutes out of a 48 hour period to pick up their pre-ordered copy of SW:TOR be all that upset about not getting to play anyway?

    • Carson says:

      Where do you “pick up” your mail-ordered copy from if the postman is slow delivering it, XeroFive?

    • Barrista says:

      I actually agree with this though. Someone on the forums was bashing BW because they are not supposed to receive their game until the 23rd and complained that they wouldn’t be able to play for ONE DAY! So instead of being appreciative that they were only going to have to sit out for one day instead of 3 days, they were whining! It just seems very immature.

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  10. Anti-Stupidity League says:

    What is it with all this pampering of people who feel like they’re entitled to something? “I preordered the game so it’s not enough that I get to play the game before anyone else, I demand some additional free gaming days as well! I’m entitled to those!” Frack no.

    And then some people even complain that these gaming companies aren’t sprinkling enough goodies for these crybabies already, they should do some more. Sheesh. Get serious, you people.

  11. Sullas says:

    Whether or not you think TOR is crap (enjoying it a great deal, personally, and that’s with those pesky other people in tow!) it’ll pay for itself. And the initial buzz is good, not bad, sandbox curmudgeons and entitlement-pre-order-babies aside.

    Two days to placate the latter -is- a little silly, but then launches are a head game more than anything else. It’s harder to whine one’s lungs out if one actually got one’s sweaty little mitts on some form of recompense for one’s perceived hardships. Even if what is received is objectively trivial.

  12. Gesh says:

    You sound not only as if you were high, but also butthurt. As Azuriel put it “4m * $60 = ?”

    “Carry on with the hysterics though.”.

    • Loire says:

      What make you think they will sell 4 million copies? They haven’to even breached 1 million subscriptions in a supposed market of 12 million. You think they’re going to sell 3 million on top of that?

      Then what happens when after box sales their outstanding budget is still larger than any other MMO’s total budget? What happens when 25% of the players leave following the first free month? When another 25% are done with the content by month 3? When ennui sets in for the general WoW crowd month 6?

      At 2 million players and neglecting future development costs, marketing costs, tattoo costs, they won’t see the black until month seven, assuming they retain each and every one of those subscriptions.

      Oh wait, I forgot George Lucas gets 30% of EVERYTHING. Yea, no they won’t see profits until month 11.29.

    • SynCaine says:

      I assumed Azuriel was trolling, since I figured he knew better, but since this has come up twice now…

      Of that $60 box cost, EA is lucky if they get $10 of it. Very lucky, considering George gets a cut. Hell even Blizzard only puts $7 out of the $15 they collect from WoW towards profits, and that’s for a game far larger than SW, and one in silent hibernation run by interns.

      And that 300m+ is just the pre-launch cost. One assumes, so long as BioWare thinks SW is an MMO, that they will continue developing content for the game.

      If what is there now cost 300m+, what do you think the odds are of future content being just ‘slightly’ more expensive than the typical MMO content to produce? And if you don’t buy that, what are the odds its going to be anything close to the ‘quality’ of current content? Pick one.

      • Sullas says:

        George only gets his 35% cut -after- EA makes back its investment. Not “EVERYTHING.” Do look it up.

        The 3m copies in first year estimate is from Cowen and Company, who are market analysts, not Bioware fanboys.

        And we haven’t even gotten holiday sales tallied up yet.

        So, I think Azuriel’s fundamentally correct. If they actually reach 4m boxes, they don’t have to worry about retention – they can take the money and run, reputation aside. And that number, when the dust settles, would not surprise me. One of the dev notes from Stephen Reid addressed to the pre-order whiners claims that “…when we opened pre-orders we had a huge spike in numbers – far more than most MMOs capture at launch.” One assumes he’s not outright lying.

        Also $10 out of $60 in -profit- isn’t bad for the greatest financial disaster of 2011.

        • SynCaine says:

          “Also $10 out of $60 in -profit- isn’t bad for the greatest financial disaster of 2011.”

          No I’m sure EA will be super thrilled. What better way to pay off that 300m+ invested than putting 40m (4m * 10) towards it. I’m sure the massive retention rate that SW is going to enjoy will easily make up the other 240m+, especially considering all future dev won’t cost EA a dime, right?

  13. Solf says:

    This is so misplaced it’s incredible. Although it does point out that given the bad PR it might have been better for EA to do it differently.

    But anyway. I believe they said that games will be in stores *well in advance*. And you know what? They haven’t lied. My copy shipped on 10th from the UK. That is 10 days in advance. If I don’t have it in hand by 20th, it’s my post’s fault, not EA’s. With that amount of ‘shipping headstart’ time they really don’t need to provide *any* grace period.

    I think they actually did it better than other launches I participated in. ‘Grace period’ is a crutch if you can’t get boxes to retailers early enough. And it just shows how prejudiced gaming culture / press is when they elect to ignore an arguably better solution just because “it’s not how it was always done”.

    • Barrista says:

      They won’t be in store in advance in the U.S. The in-store date is the 20th for the U.S. and the 13th for EU I believe.

      • Solf says:

        Grace period has any effect whatsoever only on those who preordered. So it’s kinda immaterial when they show up in stores, no?

        Or (not being from US) do you preorder stuff that you then pick up in store and it is not going to show up on 20th? My preorder is being posted to me.

  14. sabbel says:

    pointless…

  15. ramizeth says:

    Syncaine, your discussions here brought back memories of forum post and thread series. (completely non MMO though)

    Back in 2009 a movie was released and on the movie site forum board (IMDB) someone went on a complete rampage right after its release stating that the movie was going to be the biggest flop and money loser of all time. He/she pulled no punches.

    That movie was Avatar and for the next several months that thread was kept alive for shits and giggles. Dont think that poster ever showed up again.

    It was classic comedy.

  16. Snafzg says:

    Didn’t EA buy Bioware for around $850M? If they’ve sunk $300M into development and another $300M into packaging and marketing, well… that’s a hefty sum of cash they’ve got to make back (about $1.45B). If/once they do become profitable, Lucas Arts gets ~35% of the profits for licensing the IP.

    My understanding is that box sales don’t equate for nearly as much profit as monthly subscription fees. Therefore, 4M copies sold at $60 per box doesn’t really net them $240M in profit… it’s more like ~25% of that.

    The big thing for EA Bioware here is retention. How many monthly subs can they hold on to? Given the vast majority of examples we can look to from recent years, retention rates are pretty damned dismal, with a few exceptions. My guess is that the average 3-months out retention rate for MMOs released in the last 5 years has been around 25% tops.

  17. arrexis says:

    Did really the game cost 300m $?, who is in charge of this project, a Greece ex finance minister?

    • loire says:

      As far as we know EA/Bioware don’t release these numbers but a ex-EA employee wrote in his/her blog that the game cost about 300 million (a year ago mind you) to create mostly do to the Voice acting costs involved.

      You ofcourse have to take the number with a grain of salt because the employee was obviously disgruntled with the direction EA/Mythic/Bioware were going but all accounts so far have pointed to SW:TOR having an amazingly bloated budget.

  18. No Comment says:

    Ahh another post trashing a game we already know you hate. 2 days is plenty of grace period, why would you let preorder keys allow people to keep playing any longer.

    On a side note I am having a blast in the game and will be buying a year sub because I am having fun and GASP that’s what games are for!

  19. theJexster says:

    I can’t wait until a year from now when all of us that realize this game is garbage are proven undoubtably right.

    Been MMOing since 2002, never played one for less than 2 months, SWTOR lasted me 1 week before I had 0 desire to play again, and I’m a huge Star Wars fan. Imagine what the casual fans will think. I mean, at it’s core, it’s not even a good game. It’s shallow and empty, and has 0 immersion.

    • No Comment says:

      See that’s not a fact, that’s just your opinion. There are plenty of us that love the game and enjoy it and that’s also in our opinion. Maybe it will fail maybe it won’t but if you think it doesn’t have immersion than you apparently fail at playing video games.

      The game is ALL about immersion with the cutscenes, voice acting, companions, and different dialogue trees. If you don’t care about any of that then this game isn’t for you, that’s not a garbage game it’s just not the game for you.

  20. The $300 million thing is a red herring.

    First, it is a made up number. EA denies rabidly that SWTOR cost anything close to that. And while you might not trust EA, they are a public company and lying about a material fact like that could get them in trouble.

    Second, when John Riccitiello says that SWTOR will quickly be profitable, he isn’t lying. Rather, he is speaking of how financial reporting works. Yes, they spent a bunch of money on the game. But come 2012, that will all be in the past. Internally somebody will know if and when they made back all the money they invested, but financial reports are only for a period of time. SWTOR will be “profitable” if it brings in more money in Q1 2012 than was spent on it in Q1 2012. Anything else is old news.

    You might not agree that is the way to run a railroad, but you are not looking at EA as a whole enterprise in the Wall Street sense. Profits from other games funded SWTOR. Profits from SWTOR will fund other things.

    Of course, if they cannot bring in more money in subscriptions than they spend on the game in Q1, then disaster strikes. There will undoubtedly be some cut-back in staffing post launch, but if the numbers look shaky, the lay-offs will be big.

    And that will be an issue, because SWTOR is a theme park and will need more content. But the way it is designed, all quests in that content needs to be fully voiced and animated on top of the usual zone addition and balancing efforts. Who is going to do that work after a big layoff? How did that work out for WAR?

    So, ironically, Bobby Kotick crowing that SWTOR won’t be profitable isn’t that far from the truth. It will never be as profitable as WoW, certainly. It has to face the Lucas Arts tax, which is 30% off the top and is like that scene in “Good Fellas” where they say, in response to any excuse, “Fuck you, where’s my money?” Add in the additional “full voiced” overhead, which has got to be more complicated that adding a quest to WoW, and SWTOR on its best day is never going to have the near 50% profit margin WoW enjoys.

    • loire says:

      We have one unnamed ex EA employee mention the game cost 300 million while another still employed, mention that the game would require at least 1 million subscribers for a straight year to come close to being profitable, which puts the budget at around 250 million.

      You can hide your head in the sand all you want but the game has a troubled financial future ahead of it. I don’t care if WoW in space succeeds massively or fails dismally. It doesn’t affect me and my interests but I do like to look at these things realistically.

      Bobby Kotick wasn’t the first to notice the problems this game is going to face.

      • Huh, what? Did you even read what I wrote? I am guessing from your tirade that you did not, or could not comprehend it.

        Even if it was $300 million, that is immaterial. That was my point. It is a red herring, something irrelevant that distracts from the actual potential problem.

        There isn’t some $300 million debt that needs to be repaid. It has been paid for already through the ongoing business operations of EA. Eventually somebody inside of EA will evaluate whether it was a good investment of company resources, but the money has been spent, and it was money they already had from other resources.

        What will matter is if SWTOR can, as a day to day operation, pay its own way and generate a profit for EA going forward.

        Quite contrary to “sticking my head in the sand,” I was pointing out where SWTOR can quite possibly fail where it will matter to EA and Wall Street. If it doesn’t keep subscriptions up, the cost of additional content, and the Lucas Arts “tax” are all more important to SWTOR now than what it cost to make over the last few years.

        • loire says:

          You’re right, I fail to see your point (tirade is also a very strong word for two paragraphs).

          What does it matter if EA pulled the 300 million dollars from other successful projects? That doesn’t relieve SW:TOR of having to perform. The number is not a red herring as it’s the amount of dollars SW:TOR has to raise prior to becoming profitable for the company. The entire discussion has been whether SW:TOR can overcome such a barrier.

          I’m not here arguing this game failing will sink EA, that’s not true and not the point.

        • SynCaine says:

          Just because Madden2012 ‘paid’ for SW:TOR does not mean EA is not expecting SW:TOR to make 300m+. Sure the quarterly statement won’t have a charge of 300m to produce SW, but it’s still real money that was actually spend, in the hope that spending it would result in more than what was spent coming back.

          If SW cost 100m to make, Madden2012 would still have ‘paid’ for it, but it would be a hell of a lot easier for EA to consider SW a success assuming the same amount of people buy and stick around.

          You seem to be suggesting that the cost to produce the game is a non-factor when considering the success or failure of the game, unless I’m totally missing what you are trying to say.

        • You seem to be saying that “paying back” $300 million somehow affects the life of the game now. It does not. EA was going to spend that money on some game or games. They chose SWTOR over other options.

          But they are not going to close the game down even if it takes SWTOR 3 or 5 years to recover the investment, so long as it is profitable relative to its cost to operate. They will never shut it down so long as it makes money. There is no “barrier” that it needs to over come. It is already there.

          All that is impacted by spending $300 million is where EA invests money next time. SWTOR is done, that ship has sailed.

          All that matters to SWTOR is that it makes enough money every month to pay for costs (which are higher than competitors) and generates profits that make it a reasonable ongoing use of EA assets, just the same as any other MMO.

        • SynCaine says:

          No, I’m not.

          I’m saying 300m is important for the genre and whether ultimately SW is seen as a success.

          I’m saying the structure of SW itself, and the factors surround it, make the game being a success (in part because of the 300m) difficult.

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