Star Wars: The Old Republic ‘won’t be profitable’ says Bigpoint CEO

Star Wars: The Old Republic won’t be profitable. Ever. That’s according to Heiko Hubertz, CEO of MMO publisher Bigpoint. Speaking at the London Games Conference, Hubertz reasons that EA and BioWare’s monthly subscription business model won’t be enough to make up for The Old Republics high development costs, which are estimated at $100 million.

"If you look at a game like Star Wars from EA and BioWare, they estimated a development budget of more than $100 million. This is an online game for many millions of subscribers, so a big publisher does not understand that a subscription model is not the future,” said Hubertz.

"With micro-transactions and longer lifetime maybe I see a chance for this game but I don't think that EA or BioWare will be profitable with this game. Ever."

Hubertz stressed that MMOs need to be able to turn a profit quickly after launch. “If you look in the traditional industry there are a lot of big bets there. Still, there are companies investing $20-40 million for a game. These companies have to be profitable after one or two months. They don’t have 12 months or even more. I think these companies are really in trouble in the future if a user can play online games for free,” said Hubert.

It should be noted that Bigpoint is developing Battlestar Galactica Online, a free-to-play, browser-based MMO, which uses the micro-transaction business model that Hubert endorses. It’s also worth remembering that publisher EA has embraced the free-to-play business model with other titles, like Battlefield Heroes and the recently announced Battlefield Play4Free.


Nov 5, 2010

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  • Myrmidon - November 10, 2010 3:07 a.m.

    I fully understand his point. You have to understand that according to my sweet google-fu, WoW has 12 million subs. Now, I have played WoW long enough (80 DK and 70 Paladin healer) to understand that most of the players are genuinely retarded, socially and mentally, so you have to expect perhaps 40% of it's numbers will pay for this game, and you have to give it the first year to basically break even, as word needs to snowball a little. The rest probably can't change games unless their social worker helps them do it. So that makes about 4.8 million paying roughly 10 bucks a month (a wild generalisation), which makes 48 million a month. Now, please fault my calculations as I'm currently around 8 G&T's deep. This makes me a faulty mathematician, and a classy gentleman at the same time, but I figure you have to assume an expenditure of maybe 20% of the sub money as a maintenance and salary thing, so that's 9.6 million off, which makes 38.4 million. That still means they make a profit after 3 years. So in fact, disregrd anything I said about agreeing with his point. Those guys make shitty MMO's, he must know roughly as much as I do about profitable MMORPG's, so basically he must be mildly retarded because he doesn't agree with me. Of course I ought to mention that I'm assuming the 100 milion bucks includes advertising, and the 40% was an enormously generous number, but still. Give it a few years and it wil pay for itself. Especially with servics like realm transfers and character changes, assuming they charge for them. Also merch might make a few quid, who knows. All in all, nigga fuck yo shit. People need to think about things before jizzing out half-baked ideas when someone offers to let them deepthroat a microphone and never call them after.
  • Syncmaster - November 6, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    and the game isnt even good... yet
  • Spacegrass - November 6, 2010 6:05 a.m.

    I'm pretty sure that a game made by the world's best developer and based on the world's best science fiction franchise will be more profitable than a half-assed MMO made by a developer no one's heard of and based on a TV show that everyone stopped caring about years ago. Sounds like this guy's jealous, or maybe he's trying to get attention for his game that no one's going to play. Also, I think that a lot of WoW subscribers are going to switch to ToR. WoW is a six-year-old game that most sane people are tired of, and the setting was boring and derivative to begin with. ToR has a more interesting setting, an actual plot, quests that aren't just "kill X creatures", and won't require you to coordinate your schedule with 80 other people.
  • BazyLastard - November 6, 2010 12:57 a.m.

    Let's see... which MMO will still be around 1 year after launch? An MMO published by the EA, developed by BioWare and about a virtually unknown franchise called "Star Wars" with a fringe fanbase, or this guys game, published by who again, about a franchise that was really cool... 2 years ago.
  • FriendlyFire - November 6, 2010 12:55 a.m.

    What this guy is saying might be true, or it might not. Thing is, he is not in any way a reputable, trusted source for such a thing; who the hell is Bigpoint? Browser-based BSG MMO, eh? Will we be asking Zynga about TOR's chances next?
  • aliengmr - November 6, 2010 12:38 a.m.

    The reactions to what this guy is saying are kinda funny. He isn't talking down TOR but instead saying that its going to have a hard time if it uses a subscription based system. People think that Star Wars is magical and as soon as it goes live 5 million people will leave WoW for TOR and the truth is that this will not happen. By making TOR free to play, you give WoW players the opportunity to get into the game with out having to cancel their WoW sub first. The point is to not try to compete with WoW on its own terms, that's just stupid.
  • AnonymouZ - November 5, 2010 11:14 p.m.

    Agreed with farsided, pretty much on all the points. And like you all said above too... who the FUCK is bigpoint? lulul, what a bunch of bullshit they be spewing xD and we all know mmo browser based anything is a JOKE. Even more if it's free. Now, if were' talking about trashgames like farmville browser games, NOW you're talking. cuz moms gotta evolve their game-ing skillz too.
  • farsided - November 5, 2010 10:53 p.m.

    Obviously he's going to talk down a competing MMO when he's making one himself, but I do somewhat agree. Unless it's made by Blizzard, an MMO with a subscription system just won't float. I noticed he mentioned gamers being able to play online for free-I hope he's referencing the Guild Wars business model, as I find Guild Wars 2 will be extremely attractive with its unique setup and rewards for old Guild Wars players.
  • Jesse1066 - November 5, 2010 10:04 p.m.

    As the big name in MMOs, World of Warcraft can attract subscribers without much effort. In my opinion, the subscription model doesn't work as well for other games simply because they aren't World of Warcraft. The best way other MMOs can attract players is by being cheaper than WoW. If more people are playing (and saving their money), more people will buy extras, such as additional character slots, optional quests, rare items, etc. It worked for Lord of the Rings Online.
  • TheChairman - November 5, 2010 10:02 p.m.

    Ugh. Micro-transactions. I understand monthly subscription fees to pay for developing further content and server costs, but micro-transactions just feel like a shitty way to bleed fans wallets for content they've already paid for. Why not just pay a monthly fee and have access to all content?
  • 8bitBaby - November 5, 2010 10 p.m.

    yah i agree with KasamSheer, who the hell is bigpoint?! why should i care what they think?! i think it will be profitable. i have a friend working on TWO gaming rigs for he and his wife for this. i thin the company will be okay even 12 month out. gawd! who the hell is bigpoint?!
  • KasamSheer - November 5, 2010 9:53 p.m.

    Has anyone else never heard of Bigpoint?? Trying to tell Bioware and how to run their multimillion dollar companies??? Sorry buddy i will go with the pros.
  • corndog501 - November 5, 2010 9:48 p.m.

    Subscription models do not work?? Uh, hello anyone forgetting a little game called World of Warcraft? That game uses a subscription model and it's the biggest MMO out there! Activision-Blizzard is making, what hundreds of millions of dollars, if not a billion, off of monthly subscriptions!
  • Cleanser247 - November 5, 2010 9:48 p.m.

    Shame. I've been pretty excited!

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