SWTOR subscribers drop 400K

EA have released their financial results for Jan-March 2012, including the disclosure that as at the end of March, there were 1.3 million subscribers. That’s a substantial drop from the 1.7 million peak a month after launch, but still a significant number.

Some will interpret the decline as a big negative, and to some extent it is, but there are some other facts that need to be taken into account:

1. The 1.3 million subscriber number is before 1.2 was released

2. There hadn’t been the Asia-Pacific server transfers or the remainder of Europe and the Middle East launch.

3. It’s a new MMO – sure the numbers dropped but I’m guessing a significant proportion were the hardcore MMO fans who check out everything new then move on if it’s not their thing.

So my guess is those numbers have increased again – maybe not by much but I’d be betting on a solid and stable subscriber base. Of course it’d be nice if there was a little more transparency on the numbers but that’s an issue across most MMOs.

Over to you: do I have my rose-coloured glasses on? What’s your take on the current level of subscriber numbers?


  1. SWTOR  gets boring real  quick… I unsubbed today. Can’t wait for Guild Wars 2 though ! 

  2. Your article is dribble. John R from EA said clearly 1.3m is as of the end of APRIL.
    Fact check plz.

    • Nitefa11 says

      He can say April all he wants but in the corporate world they release numbers based on quarterly reports so if he said april he miss spoke because there is no way their billing department had the time or any real reason to add 1/3 of the next quarter on to their media release which would only make their numbers even worse.

      If your like alot of us gamers that were disappointed in swtor you might be playing alot of these free to Play there are a ton of f2p “EA” games. I feel bad for al the poor little studios EA bought and are going to run in to the ground when perhaps they should have used some of those developers to help them make swtor not l

      • He didnt mispeak. He purposely said end of april so they could include all the 30 days free subs. I play the game. 400k is likely more like 800k without those 30 day subs added.

        • And it was a conference call. If he meant March, he would have been corrected or questioned on why he said april.

          • Fact check yourself.  The article doesn’t say anything about a conference call, it refers to EA’s Q4 FY12 and FY12 corporate disclosure, otherwise known as an 8-K.  For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, SWTOR subscribers were at 1.3 million.  Exactly as the article reports.  Somebody may have said something different in a conference call, but the article reports simply what was printed in the 8-K.

          • Someone may have said something different in the conference call to ivestors, that someone being EA chief executive John Riccitiello. He is not exactly just a someone.

            Nowhere in the earnings report does it say 1.3m subs as of march 31st. It says NOW has 1.3m subs.

            The conference call discussing the report to investors is where the Chief Exec said 1.3m as of the end of April.

            Points 1 and 2 of this article are false. I have more evidence to prove I am correct than does the author of this post. It is in writing. If the end of april comment was a gaffe he would have been corrected. It was intentional. April subs WOULD be higher than march 31st because they gave most people a free month.

  3. Dortamur says

    I think it’s pretty natural. There’d be a lot of people who just play it to check it out on release, or treat it as KOTOR3, get one character to the end of their storyline, then quit.

    I don’t know if it’s going to increase much, though, although there may be a minor surge from Australians coming online. Anyone I know who is interested is already playing – or is steering clear to avoid another addiction.

    Personally, I’m playing more than ever, since rolling an Imperial Bounty Hunter. Loving the Imperial take on things. I haven’t done much end-game, but am really enjoying the different class stories and Legacy tie-ins. 1.2 combined with the Aussie servers had more an impact on my play-time than I would’ve guessed.

  4. MrGutts says

    Bioware/EA is also screwing with sub numbers. Do you think they gave that 30 days of free play time out of the goodness of there heart to people? No they did not, it was so the sub numbers didn’t look like they dropped in half the first quarter. Just wait next quarter when you’ll see people people who had quarterly subs drop off.

    Don’t even get me started with Bioware billing subscribers and not even sending emails out to remind them they have been billed. Corporate games.

  5. The game is new, and expectations in some cases was/is unrealistic. I played vanilla WoW for example. SWTOR has way more subs than wow did at the same time; is way more refined, and polished than wow ever was at the same time, and customer service for wow was a total joke back then. I’m quite happy with swtor, I’m having a lot of fun, and Bioware is still getting it’s groove. This is a great game that will only get better as time goes by. If your a fantasy player though; to be honest, SWTOR is just not for you long term. My daughter likes it, is playing it lots, but is also an ex-WoW player, and can’t wait for GW2 because she loves the fantasy genre. Me? I’m tired of the fantasy thing, which is why I probably won’t get into GW2 right away, but stick with Star Wars because I love the whole space/Force thing.  To each his own.

  6. James Booth says

    i dont think anyone particularly cares about the numbers for the moment, and for that they’re doing pretty good.  the space additions are incoming (the solo project) and are going through internal testing. theyre also working on more end-game content (yes, screw end-game items, what a joke) as well as another set of features theyre calling “star wars dreams”  pod/swoop racing anyone? anyway my point is, stop trying to create news about swtor subs, how about try and get a scoop on incoming features?

    •  TOROZ dont try to create news about shit. They collaborate and bring up anything SWTOR related, with little bias. Plus all the stuff that is “incoming” is completely under wraps, no one knows anything more than the name of it.

    • Hi James – we do actually try for ‘scoops’ here and there but as Glorion mentions below – unless you literally broke into BioWare, theres no real way of finding out stuff like that…

  7. Bhaalkin says

    Bought the game yesterday, in Australia, rolled a Smuggler. Loving it. Never really care much about end game in any MMO’s, more about discovering new things and trying different story lines. So +1 to new subscriptions.

  8. Here’s my take:  EA made Bioware push the baby out the gate at a version equivalent of  probably 0.7-ish in December, and called it version 1.0.  But they made the Christmas sales, which means they got 1.7M subscribers.  The cost?  The game was raw.  The launch was ages ahead of anything, say, Funcom has done in their entire history, but it’s raw.

    I think 1.2 was probably something close to what Bioware would have wanted 1.0 to be, but really?  They would have wanted their LFG (groupfinder) up, still not in the game, and probably still a few more systems not yet in.  So let’s say there are some bits there that are post 1.0, and some things not yet 1.0-worthy, at 1.2, in April 2012.

    If EA let them have artistic control in Austin and launch in April 2012, say, they’d have had a half million subs, which would have had maybe 400K eaten away immediately by Tera, GW2, and Diablo3.

    DEAD DEAD DEAD.  Now that would have been truly gone pear shaped, no question.

    Going from 1.7M to 1.3M suddenly doesn’t look so bad does it?  It makes EA look like total sons of bitches — the Darths of game producers, for sure.  But if they hadn’t done what they did in December, there wouldn’t be a game at all.

    MMORPGs are bigger nastier projects than the biggest nastiest special effects movies of all time.  Their budgets are about the same, too, and they have operating budgets that are ongoing.  

    They involve server architectures that make the systems programmers of my generation weep.  (I’m 53, and remember how cool it was the first time I got to run a project on a VAX 11/780 over a weekend — hey this was the machine the CGI for A New Hope was rendered on!  I was telling my son just today, the USB charging station in my car has more computing power than that computer did, now; so do the windshield wipers [yes, I’m American]. And that’s an everyday miracle so few people appreciate!).

    With the varying hardware and software on the client ends, the vagueries of drivers and network performance, the weird tweaks people do to their machines — honestly, it’s pretty much a given that despite standards and betas any game is going to be a nightmare for about 20% of the users who think they should be able to run it, and for about one in four of those 20% it’s because they can’t understand how to read requirements.  For another one in four, their malware or other crap has lowered their performance below the requirements despite it, or something else they’ve done has made them incompatible (non-compliant drivers,…).

    If it’s not these folks, expectations that the game will make their awful lives ecstatic in some unprecedented (and impossible) way will cause a huge number of folks to ragequit and damage the property on the way out in every venue of social media within reach, yada yada — you all know all this.

    So, given that the game company has an impossible job, against which they invest gobstopping piles of cash and bet they’ll make it back on a hit-driven market?  

    They are doing no revenue, net.  I mean, let’s ignore for a bit if it cost them $100M or $300M to create the game, and what the monthly cost to develop and maintain it is.  Let’s just think about what it costs to market and sell it, and what it’s bringing in.

    They made about $25M say, just selling copies of the game, conservatively (1.7M copies, some collectors, some less, some at their own store, many at retail for maybe 50% of cover price).  So far they’ve made Feb, Mar, April times 2M (just to round it) so 6M in subs.  Total income, maybe a bit north of $30M in US$.  

    This means, they’ve netted about…nothing.  After promotional costs, ads, whatever, paying off Lucas?  Nothing.

    But if this were a restaurant or something, they wouldn’t expect to make squat the first year.  They need to create a following, and last through GW2, Tera, Diablo, and whatever flavors of the month come up through next Christmas, and see if they have lasting power — and most of that lasting power has to do with the solidity of their IP, whether people finally *get* the whole Bioware idea of “KOTOR with Friends” stable-of-alts as a process and not just an endgame.

    Because, if you hadn’t noticed, they didn’t focus on the endgame, yo?  Possibly bad marketing but EA isn’t letting them mention it what they really *did* work on, and they unfortunately let the guild leaders be the voice of the user community and of course GUILD LEADERS tend to be organizing people to raid…duh…and so EA said, asshats, we told you, no one cares about story, retool! and now they are running completely scared…sigh.

    SWTOR is an interactive ensemble movie, where you get to play eight protagonists, and as you play all eight protagonists, you get unlocks.  It’s very similar to some of the Asian hero F2P sagas that way, which would give a lot of the western gamers HIVES, so they can’t make that comparison.  It encourages a full stable of alts, and it encourages RP.  It encourages the kind of player that plays KOTOR or DragonAge trying to figure out every ending.  At the risk of offending almighty Zynga, this game was not designed to be a raiding MMO, it was designed to be KOTOR with Friends.

    What’s killing it, IMNSHO, is that EA refuses to let them even try to market it that way.  And maybe they’re right, maybe there isn’t a market for that?  I thought when DDO launched I’d find people who wanted to sail through scenarios at something faster than a tabletop pace, but slower than riptide, in groups.  BUT NO.  There are a few on Lord Ardaas, just as there were a few in LOTRO on Landroval.

    EA doesn’t want a niche game.  They want a hit.  Which might make SWTOR…SWG post NGE?  Who knows…

    /* do I get points for world’s longest transpacific comment? 🙂 */

    • You definitely get the reward for longest comment 😉 It also happens to be a damn compelling comment as well, a great perspective!

    • “If EA let them have artistic control in Austin and launch in April 2012, say, they’d have had a half million subs, which would have had maybe 400K eaten away immediately by Tera, GW2, and Diablo3.
      DEAD DEAD DEAD. Now that would have been truly gone pear shaped, no question.”

      What if they launched in April and had only one sub? Or maybe just two? It’s quite possible in your scenario. I mean, to suggest that the game would sell 1.9m less copies because they held off a couple months is more than a stretch don’t ya think?

    •  If they marketed it as kotor with friends, the game would be in it’s death rattle by now. That has no staying power what so ever. End game is what keeps people playing. ie: Ranked WZs, Raiding, things like that. Unless you think theres a million people out there that want to see the same old boring story told from a different viewpoint 8-16 times.

      Honestly, end game is the only thing keeping my guild here (~40 subs). That, and the constant drive by the officers to keep the game exciting and refreshing, but at some point EA has to work with us, and give us a little somethin, somethin… 1.2 helped, but with no ranked WZs and the way it was told, was a massive kick in the gut.

  9. I have written extensively about SWTOR and am just too tired to do so again, I moved on to Rift and have been very happy every since. BUT- I did not want to and hope to return to the game one day, if they get their act together. To be clear, Im far more of a hard core Star Wars guy and so you would think I would stick with them no matter what, right? Wrong. I play in Star Wars Galaxies, BETA through NGE, and I played WoW about six months past the expanded edition that introduced the Death Knight. On the Star Wars side, Ive read about 75 of the books, have played about 70% of any game on any platform there is (Star Wars games), so I think I offer a balance between fanboy and MMO-a-file. And I followed SWTOR for three years before release. 

    Shava deals with the business end of things and that is one part to the problem, there is no doubt about that. But there is a whole lot he does not mention, which cannot be merely attributed to EA and their evil empire (meaning, their mismanagement). The issues run very deep. One of the biggest issues is plain, old fashioned arrogance of the type Sony/SWG became famous for. Every so often, I check up on TOR since dumping my subscription and the same arrogant tone is coming from TOR, nothing has changed. And unless a whole lot changes, in terms of their attitude, I guarantee you that when the two year mark hits, SWTOR will become the next SWG, just with a much bigger base. 

    They need to learn what to make easy and what to make hard. They dont get MMO and how to apply it to the world of Star Wars. There is absolutely nothing wrong with their story driven approach, lots of toons, one of the very best gaming experiences Ive had- ever. But when I get to my final battle, the one where I am supposed to do an epic battle with you know who (Im avoiding spoilers), the game glitches on me. The battle was over in less then 15-20 seconds. All that time invested into story and BAM. What did SWTOR do when I wrote them? They gave me one week free, or about a $5 credit. REALLY? They obviously do not get MMO gamers or even the amount of investment MMO peeps put into THEIR approach of story first. 

    I could cite example after example, from crazy high fees for about everything (thank God none of these blokes are running for president), to a very broken crafting approach, to the lack of an automated LFG tool, up through my EARNED legacy awards, the one that would make my gaming life so much easier- and yet I have to pay millions in credits for these perks. REALLY? So my legacy is to unlock the right to pay more credits? And that makes sense to you, SWTOR? 

    Rift: I had a mount by level 8 and a damn fast one by level 25, was group raiding Rifts by level 10, joining an amazingly cool guild and through their system, was running instances by level 15. On and on I could go about Rift, their unique approach to builds and how cheap it is to change my mind so I can test out different things. SWTOR, dead fast against such an approach and VERY against hybrids. 

    Make the content tough or at least offer some good challenges in any number of ways, that I get and believe in. But dont make a gamers day to day life a drain and credit suck. 

    There is so much more I could write, but why? They simply do not listen. I hope somebody starts banging heads over there because I would love to come back to the game. But they have a lot of growing up to do and a lot of proving to do, before I would give it another try. Oh and I did level a toon to 50 and two others to upper 20’s. 

    So SWTOR, I’ll pass on your $5 gesture. 

  10. I would guess that as of TODAY SWTOR has less than 1m active subscribers (that is subs that still actually play).   It may even be closer to 500,000.

    The 1.3m just doesn’t stand up to the level of activity seen on the servers (which is exceedingly low – lower even than what was seen in the 3 months SWTOR dropped from 1.7m to 1.3m total subs).

    Bioware really need to get moving to turn SWTOR around.

  11. 3. It’s a new MMO – sure the numbers dropped but I’m guessing a significant proportion were the hardcore MMO fans who check out everything new then move on if it’s not their thing.Actually they are saying its the casual players that left that caused the drop.


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