EA have recorded a loss of 400,000 subscribers for Star Wars: The Old Republic, reporting that there are currently 1.3 million active subscribers, compared to the 1.7 million subscribers reported in February. However, EA's Frank Gibeau told investors yesterday evening that the loss simply signified the departure of casual gamers from the MMO, attracting by the brand, stating that the core paying-player percentage numbers were up.
"When we launched the product back in December, it was an event launch," he said. "We brought in a lot of users, and with a brand like Star Wars, it reaches out much past the hardcore MMO fan base into the broader market.
"And as the service evolves from here, what we're seeing is that some of the initial casual customers have gone through a billing cycle and decided not to subscribe to the game."
Essentially ascribing the loss to gamers who chose not to continue after the rather generous trial periods EA have been testing, Gibeau noted that this meant the ratio of paying subscribers to casual gamers is now more favourable.
"So the percentage of paying subscribers from our peak until now has actually gone up, and the folks that we have are as engaged as they were when they first bought the product."
EA CEO John Riccitiello stated that the figures, a far cry from any need for concern, were in fact "very much in line with our original assumptions".
He noted that whilst the MMO was in EA's top ten franchises when it came to reaping profits, it wasn't top five, and therefore fell behind a number of other existing properties in terms of importance.
It's a business contributor that, while important, is not as important as Medal of Honor or Battlefield or FIFA or Madden or The Sims or SimCity, but it's more important than Tiger Woods PGA Golf," Riccitiello said.
"So while I understand there's an enormous amount of interest, I don't know that it warrants as much as what we're seeing right now. But we love the franchise, we're going to grow the franchise and just like we want to see Tiger Woods Golf grow or SSX grow, or Madden for that matter, we're going to drive this one for growth."
Gibeau echoed this sentiment, stating that "Make no mistake, BioWare intends to grow subscribers." He also suggested that the game would continue to do well because of the strength of the "Star Wars fantasy".
"We are cognizant of competitors coming, but none of them quite fit in the same competitive category as Star Wars," he said. "They're just different fantasies. They're not the Star Wars fantasy. It's not the big expansive universe that appeals to so many people worldwide. And as you know with MMOs, every day you're in operation to get better and better and better. You continually perfect the experience. You continually improve the acquisition component.
"And so building from a base that we're at right now, we feel very confident that this business is going to continue to stay competitive throughout the remainder of the year."
Did you give SWTOR a whirl? Did you stop playing after the trial period or are you now a monthly subscriber? Let us know why in the comments box.