EA limiting digital and retail launch copies of Star Wars MMO

By on August 19, 2011, 11:30 AM

Electronic Arts has revealed that they will purposely limit the number of copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic available at launch for retail and digital download. The news comes from an EA representative during a demonstration at Gamescon, as reported by Gameinformer.

EA claims that they want everyone to have a smooth experience with the new MMO title and if this means limiting sales in order to keep servers from crashing, so be it. EA isn’t concerned with simply selling a ton of copies but rather keeping gamers happy. After all, the company only needs to sell half a million copies of the game to be profitable.

There are a lot of factors at play here and the news can be interpreted in many different lights.

The representative said that EA has a set number of copies to move before they discontinue sales to increase server capacity, but of course that number isn’t being released.

Such an announcement could very well be a marketing tactic to acquire more pre-orders. It’s also not a bad move to garner more media attention for the game, although it likely doesn’t need much help. Star Wars is a huge franchise and many people have been waiting for another quality MMO to challenge World of Warcraft.

One would assume that EA knows how many pre-orders are in place and given the popularity of the title, it would only make sense from a consumer’s standpoint for EA to deploy additional servers before the launch rather than upsetting potential buyers when sales cease. The EA rep was unsure how long it would take to deploy additional servers in this worst-case scenario.

On the flip side, many people will see this as a good move on EA’s part, as they are looking out for the customer’s best gaming interest. After all, who wants to try and play a game on a laggy, crash-prone server? If the game doesn't sell enough copies to require more servers, then this was all for not.

There is currently no release date for The Old Republic but a beta is said to begin in September. BioWare is likely planning to drop the title in time for the lucrative holiday buying season, although if sales are halted, that wouldn’t matter much.

Do you plan to buy The Old Republic, and if so, will you be pre-ordering now in light of this news?




User Comments: 22

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Guest said:

This seems crazy to me. It has to be a marketing ploy...

Guest said:

this is old news, EA stated this last month

makes sense in the fact that the servers will not be overloaded on launch day resulting in the game getting a ton of bad press. that happened to AoC and then the game got more bad press once players got passed level 20 and found out the game was incomplete.

Raswan Raswan said:

Clearly a marketing ploy, and as far as I'm concerned a bad one. Server stability should be a non-issue, and using it as the "reason" for limiting sales only tells us that they think we're stupid enough to believe them (at the same time it tells the rest of us they are too stupid to come up with a better "reason" . If they only need to sell a half-million copies to cover costs, throwing up a few more servers is a no-brainer. F-you EA.Really getting sick of your dumb@ss crap. Try it on console gamers and they might believe you.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

raswan said:

Clearly a marketing ploy, and as far as I'm concerned a bad one. Server stability should be a non-issue, and using it as the "reason" for limiting sales only tells us that they think we're stupid enough to believe them (at the same time it tells the rest of us they are too stupid to come up with a better "reason" . If they only need to sell a half-million copies to cover costs, throwing up a few more servers is a no-brainer. F-you EA.Really getting sick of your dumb@ss crap. Try it on console gamers and they might believe you.

Idd, specially for a company that is loaded! They shouldn't have problems with overloading servers. They would get more money from extra game sales and therefore more money to spend on servers/maintanance. I hope they have backup servers ready though, I sense laag, DC's etc...

Hopefully all be good.

Oh btw, I hate EA. Greedy ****

pgbsamurai said:

raswan said:

Clearly a marketing ploy, and as far as I'm concerned a bad one. Server stability should be a non-issue, and using it as the "reason" for limiting sales only tells us that they think we're stupid enough to believe them (at the same time it tells the rest of us they are too stupid to come up with a better "reason" . If they only need to sell a half-million copies to cover costs, throwing up a few more servers is a no-brainer. F-you EA.Really getting sick of your dumb@ss crap. Try it on console gamers and they might believe you.

Umm... can you list an MMO launch that didn't have massive day one server issues? I don't think that limiting stock of the game is the best idea, but saying, "server stability should be a non-issue" seems a little naive. Especially considering the buzz this game has generated.

Guest said:

This is a pretty good idea. If you have any knowledge of the server farms MMOS use then you would know that saturation point of most players on at any one time it within the launch window, where people will hammer the game to death. It is never as simple as "oh well, lets plug more servers in"

If people can be "funnelled" into the game over a period of say a month, EA save masses of money by not over purchasing hardware that will never be stressed the same amount a month after release, and players will get to play without wait times or server crashes and lag.

Name me one MMO (with centralised servers) that did not crash multiple times on launch week and have major teething issues due to load.

BTW just for balance, I think EA sucks. :)

Lurker101 said:

I just have one MAJOR issue with this.

many people will see this as a good move on EA?s part, as they are looking out for the customer?s best gaming interest

EA looking out for customers interest? Just who are you trying to kid?

Chazz said:

raswan said:

Clearly a marketing ploy, and as far as I'm concerned a bad one. Server stability should be a non-issue, and using it as the "reason" for limiting sales only tells us that they think we're stupid enough to believe them (at the same time it tells the rest of us they are too stupid to come up with a better "reason" . If they only need to sell a half-million copies to cover costs, throwing up a few more servers is a no-brainer. F-you EA.Really getting sick of your dumb@ss crap. Try it on console gamers and they might believe you.

I doubt you've played many MMO's then. Even WoW's servers crash after big, long awaited patches. When everyone is trying to log in at the same time to experience new content the servers get owned.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Ah, the old, "we have a limited supply of product" scam.

I'm cool with people saying that they don't care about Steam vs Origin, but you have to be a complete imbecile to keep saying that EA is doing anything for their customer.

This not only builds demand and guarantees that people pre-order the game, but like AT&T, they're not going to invest in the infrastructure in order to maximize their profits. So they overbuild the servers. If demand is not met, you can always move them to some other MMPORPG project that could use them.

Back in the day before e-sales at least you could plead ignorance that you didn't know how many people would buy the copies, so you couldn't plan for capacity, but now that is BS. EA makes plenty of profits, they can plan for this, they're just screwing the customer again, with the added bonus of generating hype and preorder sales.

Guest said:

EA looking out for customers interest? Just who are you trying to kid?

Well then maybe EA doesn't want a black eye on launch day when/if demand far exceeds their expectations. Maybe their dev team is screaming for a limited launch. We don't have the whole picture here.

Guest said:

I am not going to by it since they have still not said what the monthly subscription will be. Guild Wars 2 is looking better and better.

CDWhenry

Raswan Raswan said:

chazz said:

raswan said:

Clearly a marketing ploy, and as far as I'm concerned a bad one. Server stability should be a non-issue, and using it as the "reason" for limiting sales only tells us that they think we're stupid enough to believe them (at the same time it tells the rest of us they are too stupid to come up with a better "reason" . If they only need to sell a half-million copies to cover costs, throwing up a few more servers is a no-brainer. F-you EA.Really getting sick of your dumb@ss crap. Try it on console gamers and they might believe you.

I doubt you've played many MMO's then. Even WoW's servers crash after big, long awaited patches. When everyone is trying to log in at the same time to experience new content the servers get owned.

It has nothing to do with how many MMOs I've played. Clearly you don't understand how math works. You saying "even WoW's servers crash after big, long-awaited patches" proves my point exactly. As your subscriber base increases, so does the difficulty of managing server stability, since relatively low percentage swings in log-ons still represents hundreds of thousands or even a million users. Compare that to this new game, which won't have 11.4 million users (or anything even close to that) at launch, and it should be far easier to manage server stability at the beginning. A five percent increase in user log-ons out of 11.4 million users is five hundred and seventy thousand. Same increase for a user base of, say 200k (making this number up, but it doesn't really matter), is ten thousand.

You think with all of their on-hand cash, and how much they clearly plan to make off of this game, that they couldn't account for that if they wanted? Gwailo is 100% right. Either they're just artificially boosting pre-sale orders or they're purposefully limiting investment in infrastructure, like a bunch of assclowns. Or they are doing both. Whatever the case, they've made it clear they don't respect the gamers on whom they are depending to buy the game.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Apparently EA missed the memo that explained that "massively" is the first word in the MMO acronym? Or maybe they want to create a new sub-genre, the Limited Multiplayer Online game? Or (and this one seems more likely) EA is just a bunch of clueless greedy wankers who like to pay lip service to how they do things for their customers, but really just look at those customers as brainless sheep that they can fleece in every way possible?

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Vrmithrax said:

Apparently EA missed the memo that explained that "massively" is the first word in the MMO acronym? Or maybe they want to create a new sub-genre, the Limited Multiplayer Online game? Or (and this one seems more likely) EA is just a bunch of clueless greedy wankers who like to pay lip service to how they do things for their customers, but really just look at those customers as brainless sheep that they can fleece in every way possible?

hehehe

MIMO - Modestly Inhabited Multiplayer Online

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

At first glance it kinda makes since. I saw how bad things go on WoW for expansions or really major patches.

But once you think about a bit EA should be able to get a good idea of what kind of burst of logins there going to get and plan accordingly.

Seems a bit sketchy to me.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

I read awhile back that it was actually Bioware's decision, not one from EA (surprisingly).

Bioware's reasoning was they didn't want the game to suffer lag and for early adopters to have an otherwise bad experience. Supposedly, the idea was to pace subscriptions in stages where they could curb the typical situation: an overwhelming, instantaneous influx of people with zero time to adapt.

Bioware could just be playing a shill for EA though. Either way, I'm sure it will generate more cash in the way it has been proposed. Ultimately, that cash comes from gamers, so it is hard to argue that the decision caters to customers' 'best interests'... This is certainly EA's style, especially as of late.

Mindwraith said:

this game is gonna be subscription based? pass...

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

gwailo247 said:

hehehe

MIMO - Modestly Inhabited Multiplayer Online

Even better (and it rolls off the tongue). While they are at it, they should probably change the "looking for group" system. Might be better to call it "Looking for anyone. Anyone? Hello? Is this thing on? I'm so lonely! Mommy..." system. Probably won't catch on, but still...

NeoFryBoy said:

AKA We're lowering production, because we don't think a lot of people will buy it.

Lurker101 said:

neofryboy said:

AKA We're lowering production, because we don't think a lot of people will buy it.

Are you really that oblivious? This is roughly a blend of Star Wars and WoW. A vast amount of nerds and geeks will never be seen again.

Tanstar said:

I preordered the day it came out.

tengeta tengeta said:

I'm generally critical of EA to extreme levels, but honestly I understand the strategy. Its a blend of making sure the servers can actually handle the initial load (good for the first players) and making sure there is a large enough demand that actually justifies investment in more servers (good for the company). Its not fair, but its easily one of the more ethical practices by EA in the past decade.

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