Investors are “betting against” the success of upcoming MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, says Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey.
According to Hickey, shareholders are concerned about publisher Electronic Arts’ track record in the genre, lukewarm previews in the press, the likelihood of a subscription revenue model and LucasArts royalties affecting the bottom line.
Speaking with Gamasutra, Hickey said, “We believe many investors are betting against SWTOR achieving market success, provided the company's and industry's track record at releasing successful new MMOs.”
EA’s last MMO was Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. The game was a great success at launch but quickly shed subscriptions and EA was forced to shut down 63 servers within the year.
Additionally, Hickey suggested that EA’s investors were hesitantly awaiting the outcomes of the Activision lawsuit regarding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward and the acquisition of social gaming company Playfish.
More direct causes for concern include “a suspected subscription pricing model versus a market that is quickly transitioning to free to play, generally modest previews of the game and elevated development expense and suspected aggressive royalty to LucasArts,” said Hickey.
The analyst claimed there was scepticism amongst investors that a monthly subscription model would be viable as more and more MMOs move to a free-to-play model supported by micro-transactions.
Gamasutra points out that the spectacular recent failure of Realtime Worlds’ All-Points Bulletin as heightened industry speculators’ awareness of the devastating effect a bad MMO launch can have on a company.
A glance over the game’s hub on Gameplanet would suggest that this publication isn’t quite so sceptical just yet.