A New Hope: How Going Free To Play Brought Redemption To Star Wars MMO
from the the-light-side-of-the-force dept
You’ve heard the rumblings before. Free doesn’t work. Or perhaps it was that free doesn’t work for big time franchises. More specifically for video games, you may have heard that when a game goes from paid to free it’s a sign that it’s a dead game. The mantra persists, despite examples like The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons showing the exact opposite can be true, where going free results in a significant uptick in revenue. There is still this fear in the hearts of game producers and, as we all know, fear leads to doubt, doubt leads to anger, and anger leads to the dark side of gaming.
Yet redemption can be had, if there is still good inside a game. The latest example of this is Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMO that was once fee-based but is now free and has realized massive revenue returns as a result. EA Labels Emperor Frank Gibeau took time away from misunderstanding what DRM is to remark on the success of the new model.
“Since it was induced in November, we’ve added more than 1.7 million new players on the free model to the service,” said Electronic Arts president of labels Frank Gibeau. “And the number of subscriptions has stabilized at just under half a million.”
“The really interesting thing that’s happening inside the service right now is monthly average revenue for the game has more than doubled since we introduced the free-to-play option. And as we look forward, we’re going to continually invest in new content for the service and for players every six weeks or so.”
Oh, look, you give your customers what they want at the prices they want it, build up a massive fan-base, and a years-old game still ends up putting money in EA’s pockets. It’s a shame they haven’t tried a similar strategy with other EA games like SimCity, instead choosing to lock the game up tighter than Han Solo trapped in carbonite with an always-online requirement nobody wants.
Still, it’s nice to see that EA isn’t above experimenting with better gaming business models, even if they did so in this case with an older game in which they had very little to lose. Here’s hoping the company translates this success into a wider philosophy.