It is rare for a dominant game developer to acknowledge the competition. It is even rarer when that developer is Blizzard, who has controlled the MMORPG market since its debut seven years ago.
At World of Warcraft’s peak, it boasted 12 million subscribers, that was a year and a half ago. At the end of last year, the company claimed a little over 10 million.
In an interview with Eurogamer, senior producer at Blizzard, John Lagrave, said a recent dip in subscribers “has to at least be attributable to The Old Republic.”
Star Wars: The Old Republic launched last year in December. Blizzard hasn’t released any subscription numbers since then, but they must be even lower if they attributing decline to the Old Republic.
Lagrave says, “Of course people are trying Star Wars – our development team are trying Star Wars! I’m one of the few people who’s still playing it actually, but yeah we’ve seen a dip in subs. It certainly has to at least be attributable to The Old Republic, but it’s also attributable to people who want to wait and get Mists of Pandaria, so it’s not surprising.”
Adding, “We don’t have a lock on all the best games in the world – Skyrim was an amazing game.”
When Largrave was asked if they will do anything to draw more people in, he said they could consider extending the length of the trial period to level 40, or even 60. Right now players are allowed to sample the game up to level 20 on a trial bases.
But as far as doing away with the paid subscription model, Largrave says that is right out. “[World of Warcraft is] certainly a very cheap form of entertainment. So yeah, we’re comfortable with the subscription system. I won’t say never on that, but gosh, not now, and it’s been seven years! You’d think we’d have gotten there before now, so I don’t think so.”
The company has certainly squashed most competition with this model, but it’s never seen a major threat. Certainly not a threat with an already huge fan base like Star Wars or Bioware. In just a month, the game drew 1.7 million subscribers. Still minor in comparison to WoW’s well established numbers, but still a credible threat.