Bobby Kotick doubts The Old Republic will make money for EA

Bobby Kotick has told Reuters he doubts that Star Wars: The Old Republic will benefit Electronic Arts, saying the licensing costs mean that “Lucas [Arts] is going to be the principal beneficiary” of any Star Wars product. Bobby Kotick is the guy you put in a movie when you want to instantly communicate the idea of “cash-savvy” – so when he says he “doesn't really understand” the deal, he's probably not trying to sound humble.

Above: In this image of a lumbering behemoth combating a team of plucky upstarts, Activision is represented by... actually we have no idea

Addressing questions as to whether The Old Republic could steal players away from Activision Blizzard's World of Warcraft (whose subscriber base has taken some hits this year), Kotick countered that EA's problem is less one of population numbers and more one of economics: “Lucas [Arts] is going to be the principal beneficiary of the success of Star Wars... the economics will always accrue to the benefit of Lucas.” He also argued that historically speaking, most MMO properties don't end up making money for investors.

EA has said that The Old Republic needed to reach 500,000 subscribers in order to become profitable. Reuters quotes analyst Atul Bagga as predicting the game could reach between three and four times that number, and that a substantial portion of these are likely to be WoW players. You'll get your chance to take sides when the game releases on December 20.


  • Viseroid - November 30, 2011 4:41 p.m.

    Kotick's credibility begins and ends with the idea that making the same game 3 times is good business. Interpret that however you like.
  • badgraphix1 - November 30, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    Unfortunately, he's spot on. There's no way Knights of the Old Republic is going to earn money for EA. If it does, not a lot.
  • frankenfurter - November 30, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    I got invited to the beta but then saw the download was 20.8gb so didn't bother. I have played a few mmorpgs WoW, Warhammer, LOTR and they all seemed pretty much the same to me, just run, fetch, kill, run, fetch, kill ad infinitum. The only one I ever played over a long period of time was EVE online and I only stopped playing because my partner started moaning at me. Being a HUGE fan of KOTOR 1&2 I may just buy the retail box of TOR when it comes out. I would have preferred KOTOR 3 though, but considering the direction Bioware's been going in, they would have turned it into 3rd person shooter.
  • shumdog - November 30, 2011 10:25 a.m.

    Valid point, but no one has a concrete answer on how this will benefit EA without seeing their books and how the deal was laid out with BW and Lucas.
  • farsided - November 30, 2011 2:02 a.m.

    Played the beta, and frankly I was disappointed. Yes, the game has fully voiced dialogue, but that's really where the quality ends. Maps-the scale of each region is far too large for the quests within it. What I mean by this is that you'll only have a handful of quests for a region, and because of the size of the map, you'll have achieved the bonus-kill assignment long before you actually finish the quest, and then you'll be running...and running...and running. I don't care if they're trying to make the scale of things feel massive, they need to either cram in more quests to make the travel worth it, or shrink the map sizes. Options-the options are a total illusion. It comes down to giving an item to one guy or the other, getting light or dark points, and small bit of text via a bit of post completion mail/a modified reward. You never see the results of your choice, and it never really comes back up again. Companions-a mess. Unfortunately, the game makes the vast majority of areas so that if you're questing alone, you're virtually required to have your companion along, which means that 1/4 of the players you see are gonna have the same guy as you tailing them, albeit with a potentially different skin. And my god, they will not shut the fuck up! I had to listen to the inquisitors companion mumble in some garbled language about how he wanted to eat everyone he saw every 10 seconds. To top it off, because of the way they judge every damn thing you say, you're completely pigeonholed into trying to figure out exactly what your dialogue option is supposed to be, or you'll have a crew member that absolutely hates you. Combat-static. as. hell. You cannot move while casting the vast majority of your abilities, and while yes, you do have access to something like 20 skills by the time you're level 15, you actually only end up using 2-3 of them for the duration of the very drawn out and boring fights. It's very similar to WoW, but I feel it to be more static, which is obviously a bad thing. Tutorials-the tutorial system, while pretty comprehensive, leaves a lot to be desired. I cannot tell you how many people were asking in chat about one of the very first quests because of how confusing the quest guide is, and I spent a good hour checking on forums and asking in chat to no avail as to where I was supposed to be spending my fleet commendations. Space combat-super on rails. Only 3 missions were provided when I first got my ship, and they were nothing more than a point and shoot adventure while asteroids that you didn't even need to avoid flew past. Kept me entertained for all of 15 minutes before I realized how boring and repetitive it was, and that was without any of the ship upgrades, which would completely remove any simblance of a challenge. And finally, the thing that pissed me off the most, The UI-isn't even modifiable. This completely blew my mind. I noticed right off the bat how absurdly small everything was, ESPECIALLY the UI text (I know chat text size could be changed). Within an hour, I was already starting to feel the effects of eye strain, which blew my mind, as I've been known to go 6+ hours straight playing with no problems whatsoever. Plus, with the locations of everything (text in the top left, compass in the bottom right, target icon sitting over the right side of your skill bar) being so out of place, you'd think they'd have some options to change it. Once again, I check the forums to no avail, and when I ask chat, the only response is "sit closer to the screen". I play on a 17" laptop which is sitting in my lap. I CAN'T GET ANY CLOSER. There may be some redeeming qualities about this game (it being an alternative to WoW is one), but there's so much wrong with it, I don't even care if it is by Bioware, I find that it's a giant load of suck. I don't understand why they're making this out to be a WoW killer when they can't even get character customization right. Rant over, I'm going back to Skyrim.
  • BIGMercenary - November 30, 2011 3:13 a.m.

    (You mean dialogue when the lips actually move and the textures are fully loaded?) I'll agree with you on the maps. I first played a smuggler and found myself waking around an unappealing pockmarked battlefield for two hours trying to find a quest to do. When I started a Jedi Knight, there was plenty of things. There seems to be an imbalance when it comes to the other classes. If you're not wielding a lightsaber then you're unimportant. I only started a Sith Warrior and I'm wondering that if the player eventually chooses enough light side options, they'll be forcefully removed from the Sith and have to make their way to the Empire. If that's customization, then its not very interesting. Companions, no comment. I only got the L2P2 (Learn 2 Play 2, haha BioWare) and that was essentially useless. Meanwhile I always heard Corso Riggs belting out the same lines constantly to the point of annoyance. I don't know if the players actions will affect companions like the KotoR games, but its interesting to find out. There definitely needs to be a clear set path, maybe a skill that you can use once every 10 minutes that guides you in the correct way. Or, I don't know, MORE QUESTS TO DO! There was space combat? I didn't even make it that far! Why? Because I couldn't find the quests! I'm playing on a laptop too and while I am glad I can at least read the text, I was disappointed that the only option of map scaling was the zoom in function on the side of it. Despite all of this, it really did remind me of a KotoR game. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge that this is just a beta. I'll buy it, but probably not at launch. I'll let the rage fly from the haters, figure out if its worth the $15 a month or not, and go from there. I can see it being a 10 year game, just add new campaigns on new planets, but I think they'll be hard-pressed to come up with new classes.
  • SideOfBeef - November 30, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    UI scalability is the kind of thing taht often gets left out in beta releases. If it' really a problem, I'd expect it within a month or two of release, if it's not in the release game itself. That said, yeah the game just isn't much fun, in the same ways that World of Warcraft isn't much fun.
  • Balaska - November 29, 2011 10:40 p.m.

    Sounds like Kotick is concerned and if other ex WoW players are anything like me, he should be, I quit WoW as soon as I preordered SW:TOR, back in July and I have quite a few level 85 characters on WoW and had been playing since launch. The beta for SW:TOR completley sucked me in and I cannot wait for launch day, I will put up with bugs, queues and lag for this game (not that there were many in the beta.)
  • tyler_14_420 - November 29, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    Judging from playing the game, it completely depends how the launch go. If BioWare and EA pulls through the launch and keeps the subscriber base, I can see it growing immensely because I got immediately hooked playing in the buggy beta (Which is apparently an old build) and I have a level 85 Rogue in WoW. It's a great MMO that sets a precedent for quest-quality, each quest has top-notch voice acting and multiple responses so that it really feels like a fluid breathing environment. You can even hook up with chicks and if they catch you and say "Planning to leave without saying goodbye?" The evil option is "Yeah, that was the plan" and the good option is "[Lie] It's too dangerous for you to come with me" haha, It really makes for an excellent MMO that drew me in, unlike WoW where my friend had to keep pushing me to level. We'll have to see SWTOR's end-game (because I ddin't reach it) but so far, the game has excelled in many facets and has impressed me. Hopefully, Lucas isn't taking all of the cake because BioWare definitely deserves some cash from this. I'd hate to see the game go under because it's definitely fun, and Star Wars definitely has the fan-base to support it.
  • ThatGuyFromTV - November 29, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    The guy has a valid point, an MMO dev on it's own has a hard enough time to make money, and considering EA has to share the profit with LucasArts, TOR really has to be a WoW-killer to make any kind of profit for EA. Maybe a MapleStory killer, even. And on the subject of Kotick being a heartless money-whoring bastard, if he kills Zynga I'll call it even.
  • Ichthus5 - November 29, 2011 7:06 p.m.

    Anyone know if this game is going to be free-to-play from the get-go (after buying the actual game disc, of course)? If it is, it is definitely being added to my library.
  • Crabhand - November 29, 2011 7:54 p.m.

    It is going to have the same monthly subscription model of WoW, ~$15 a month.
  • Ichthus5 - November 29, 2011 7:59 p.m.

    Well, that sucks. I'm not going to buy the game AND pay to play it. I thought that was ridiculous to do for any game, including WoW. Oh, well. Maybe it'll change in the future.
  • cory-smith - November 29, 2011 8:47 p.m.

    Not anytime soon if it's profitable. The only reason many MMOs go from monthly subscription to free-to-play is because they weren't making a profit (example: DC Universe). WoW will NEVER go free-to-play unless they have a huge dip in subscribers (3-4 million leave within a half year or so). That monthly subscription for WoW doesn't go to a bank vault for the execs. It goes towards maintaining/upgrading servers, paying employee salaries, and funding for new patches and expansions. Same thing goes for The Old Republic, and if you're going to not get a great game because you don't want to pay monthly that's just ignorant. MMOs are really, really expensive to make, one reason many do either a limited free-to-play or have a monthly system. I've been an off/on subscriber for WoW for over 6 years now, and I honestly don't regret it. Why? Because it's a great game, anyone who denies it is probably either a fanboy for another game or is a gramer of some sort. Blizzard has never really disappointed me and I'm happy as a consumer that my money goes towards to expanding the product/service I use. Besides, it's not like you're paying for the first month (all monthly MMOs come with a free first month of play). Just try it, it really is a great game. Bioware is a fantastic developer, they know how to make a GREAT Star Wars game (1st KotOR won GOTY).
  • Ichthus5 - November 29, 2011 9:13 p.m.

    I know, you're right. They have to make money somewhere, and if there's any company I know will make a game worth the subscription fee, it'd be Bioware. But I'm also a poor college kid, and having to pay $12-15 a month for an awesome game just upsets me. Maybe I can make the fee; I won't know until the game actually comes out. Perhaps it'd be better if it was just a bit cheaper. That probably won't happen either, though. But know that I understand your argument.
  • SolCross - November 29, 2011 6:39 p.m.

    I'm one of those people who abandoned WoW this year, in anticipation for TOR. Honestly, there isn't much Blizzard can do to keep me interested at this point. I've been playing the game for so long that regardless of what they add, I'm still just playing the same game I've been playing for five years. I mean, I probably would've appreciated the expansions a lot more if they were churned out faster so as to keep me interested. But not only is that highly unreasonable, it would have also sucked for my wallet. Either way, Kotick is just avoiding the notion that TOR might be the one that gives WoW a run for its money. I'm sure the brand name alone will make it more successful than the other so-called "WoW killers" that tried and failed.
  • Whit - November 29, 2011 10:26 p.m.

    Lord of the Rings and Star Trek were some pretty strong brands...
  • Viron - November 29, 2011 6:16 p.m.

    I was able to enjoy TOR more than WoW. But then again I find the Old Republic timeline to be a thousand times more interesting then whatever the hell is going on in WoW.
  • Disturbed1117 - November 29, 2011 4:51 p.m.

    haha!win! I like how he completely avoided the question of whether or not Blizz is worried about them losing players to TOR XD I personally hope it kills WoW because WoW's time passed a long time ago and now it's just a grinding and raiding fest...BORING EvE is more fun sadly.

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