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SWTOR – Two Years After EA Louse October 12, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online.
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You remember EA Louse, right?

He was the guy who wrote the tell-all post about the failure of Warhammer Online?  If not, well, you missed it.  At least in its original habitat.  The blog was shut down for violating terms of service, though you can read the original post here.

More is the pity, since it had something approaching the most epically self destructive comment sections… nearly 1,500 comments long… that I have ever seen.  It even had some great throw backs to past events.

The main focus of the post was why Warhammer Online failed and it included the usual aspects you find in most of these stories; unrealistic goals, out of touch and lying management, a dramatically over optimistic public spokesperson, and bad marketing.  The only likely suspect to be exonerated was Mark Jacobs, who was described as being too heads down trying to fix things, though that sounds like a leadership sin as well.

None of that was very controversial by the time EA Louse posted it.  Warhammer Online was a year old and had come and gone as far as the mainstream MMO market was concerned.  If that had been the sole focus of the post, it would not have seen so many comments.

But EA Louse took some time out from his Warhammer Online reminiscences to go after BioWare and Star Wars: The Old Republic, a product which had at that point been in the public eye for more than two years, and was still about a year from being launched.

Rehashing the past is easy, predicting the future though….

Anyway, thanks to the magic of the internet, I still have his original post. (And all of the comments. RSS feed local save for the win!)  And this is what EA Louse had to say about SWTOR:

And Bioware? Don’t make me laugh. They’ve spent more money making the Old Republic than James Cameron spent on Avatar. Shit you not. More than $ 300 million! Can you believe that?

And you know what they’re most proud of? This is the kicker. They are most proud of the sound. No seriously. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That’s the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas,they’re panicking , and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they can’t keep pushing back launch.

Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too…

This, of course, drove the BioWare/SWTOR fanboys absolutely insane.  This was the fire that fed the comments section, as a lot of people were (and remain) very emotionally invested in SWTOR.  They called bullshit, grabbed torches and pitchforks, and created an epic comment thread of bile and hate.

That is all history.  But here we are, about 10 months after SWTOR launched.

Yes, it did not make the clearly hubristic numbers initially set out as subscription number goals, and the subscription numbers they did get started dropping after the first quarter.  Then after only a few months and some layoffs, EA was claiming that SWTOR was not an important title to their lineup as people seemed to think.  Which, along with the whole conversion to free to play, starts to sound like things have, at a minimum, have not gone as planned.  And then key players at BioWare started jumping ship.

But it isn’t dead yet.  And they are talking about regular updates.

Still, that is a lot of money spent.  And you can just bet that LucasArts gets their cut every month, which no doubt is part of the overhead that made the 500K subscriber mark the line in the sand for profitability. (Then again, SWG remained viable while never hitting the 500K mark, and SOE was always adding to the game.  So does SWTOR face more overhead or simply more greed?)

So here we are, two years after that post.  Has EA Louse and his view of SWTOR been vindicated by history?

Comments»

1. HarbingerZero - October 12, 2012

I guess I never saw him as being that prophetic. I put up my first post with concerns about the game in April of 2010. That’s not to toot my own horn, because I know I was not the only one writing about those concerns at that point. EA Louse just dumped a bunch of gasoline on a fire that was already raging.

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2. Winged Nazgul - October 12, 2012

No matter what you thought of his views, it’s obvious that he was speaking from an insider’s viewpoint. Remember when he also revealed Paul Barnett was working on a Facebook version of Ultima. At that time, we just shook our heads and said yeah right.

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3. Aufero - October 12, 2012

Has his view of SW:TOR been vindicated? Yes and no.

$300 million (No one outside of EA knows if that figure is accurate or not, but it was undoubtedly over $200 million) was a ludicrous amount to spend on a new MMO, and that money didn’t produce anything noticeably superior to anything else on the market. On that level, it was a failure – they probably haven’t made the development cost back yet, and they won’t any time soon.

As far as MMOs in general go, the game is enjoyable if you’re into that kind of thing. I liked it for about three months, until I got to the generic “Run the same dungeons and daily quests for months until we produce more content” endgame. That part was poorly thought out, (Wasn’t this advertised as a story-driven MMO? Why would you expect people to stick around when the story ended?) and the game had several designers who should have known better.

So yes, it’s a failure on a couple of levels, but no, it’s not one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs. (MMOs from EA? Maybe. That’s not a long list.)

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4. Wilhelm Arcturus - October 12, 2012

@Aufero – And certainly one possible answer is that not enough time has passed to tell.

I actually was kind of caught by surprise by this post. I wrote most of it a few months back on a whim, scheduled it to post today, then kind of forgot about it.

Then it went up and I scurried to add a couple more links (founders leaving, updates plan) and reread it to make sure I was even done!

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5. One Angry Gamer (@1AngryGamer) - October 12, 2012

Any game that costs that much and sucks that bad is indeed one of the greatest failures ever. In fact, other than Warhammer Online, I cant think of one that failed harder and faster (well maybe Tera)

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6. bhagpuss - October 12, 2012

Hang on, you have an auto-post system that puts up posts on a given date? Is that just a WordPress thing? That could be really handy…

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7. Wilhelm Arcturus - October 12, 2012

@Bhagpuss – Yes, there is an option schedule a post in advance, or to set the time and date when it will appear live on your blog. I think the system technically puts it in the published column, but won’t display it until the time/date approaches.

This is how I sneak in a few posts when I am on vacation.

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8. HarbingerZero - October 12, 2012

@1AngryGamer – clearly history has a short memory indeed if Vanguard is not on that list! I never heard anything about TERA’s success or failure either one, but given that the only MMO’s outranking it on Amazon are GW2, SWTOR, and WOW, I have to think they haven’t done too badly.

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9. Rohan - October 12, 2012

@bhagpuss, it’s an option on blogger/blogspot too. Check the options on the sidebar when you write a new post.

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10. bhagpuss - October 12, 2012

Thanks both. Definitely going to find a use for that.

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11. Anjin - October 12, 2012

Thanks so much for writing this. I was wondering about the EA Louse when the Ultima Forever annoucement came up, but I never looked for his post. This is just amazing.

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12. kiantremayne - October 14, 2012

@1AngryGamer: caling a game SWTOR “one of the greatest failures ever” is, I’m afraid, either hyperbole, ignorance or trolling. For greatest faIlures I suggest taking a look at Tabula Rasa, Auto Assault, or (as HarbingerZero suggested) Vanguard.
SWTOR disappointed people with a lacklustre endgame, it disappointed me by not following through with the story focus, and it disappointed the more optimistic hopes for revenue – but last time I looked, the sub numbers were still above the level EA had set for profitability. So while it’s hardly a resounding success, it’s also nowhere near “greatest failure ever”.

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13. Bernard - October 15, 2012

It’s quite a fun game if you’re into that sort of thing.

Sad that the revenue expectations were way out and it will be interesting to see what happens after f2p.

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14. Zenver - October 15, 2012

Dust 514 anyone?

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15. SynCaine - October 15, 2012

“but last time I looked, the sub numbers were still above the level EA had set for profitability”

Yea profitable games switch to F2P shortly after release all the time.

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16. Wilhelm Arcturus - October 15, 2012

@Zenver – Are you making a prediction of your own?

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17. EA Spouse : Quality of Life in the Videogame Industry - December 12, 2012

[...] The Ancient Gaming Noob blog: Star Wars: The Old Republic – Two Years After EA Louse [...]

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18. Fozee - December 19, 2012

The problem with EA Louse (quite clearly related to EA Spouse, kinda soils the validity) is that it they were an overly abrasive 1-trick pony. Had the post been more subtle and professional and had the person actually stuck around, their validity would have been massively better. Instead, the impact within BioWare (seen as a moderator) was… not existent. It was a relative 20 seconds of bad press on sites the majority wouldn’t see, and we simply shrugged it off.

I’m all one for activism, but EA Louse was about as revolutionary as a toddler breaking its own toys.

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19. sinking_ship - May 9, 2013

The EA ship continues to sink… this year 2013 EA was named worst company for second consecutive year. And now Keaven Freeman leaves the Warhammer Online ship. Tough year for EA. Again EA Louse was right. He was always right. Warhammer Online should be free by now.

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20. 20 second post - May 9, 2013

Oh and by the way Fozee it doesnt matter if the post was removed 20 seconds after it was posted… the damage was done… the internet is global…you know that. Once something is posted… is posted period theres no time machine.

Keaven Freeman left…. tough huh?

When Warhammer is going free?

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