EA stock tanks on Star Wars: The Old Republic fears

Brean Murray Carret & Co. lowers game publisher's price target due to "creeping concerns" of MMO; EEDAR's Jesse Divnich calls move premature.

US markets are largely positive today, due in large part to positive earnings-season economic data and strengthening unemployment data, according to a consensus of financial reporters. However, such is not the case for Electronic Arts, which is trading down more than 6 percent after Brean Murray Carret & Co. analyst Todd Mitchell lowered the company's price target from $28 to $22.

Mitchell may be performing Jedi mind tricks on investors.

As reported by Market Watch, Mitchell's reassessment of EA came about due to what he termed "creeping concerns" over the future of EA's recently launched massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic.

"Specifically, initial sales appear to be below expectations, and casual observation of early play is causing us to rethink our churn assumptions," Mitchell said in a note to investors.

Released to a strong critical reception on December 20, The Old Republic sold more than 1 million units during its first week of availability. That tally proved to be more than what EA could handle, as the game's launch was marred by long wait times to access many servers.

Mitchell's analysis of The Old Republic's situation isn't without its detractors. Speaking with GameSpot, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research's Jesse Divnich emphasized that it is far too early to measure the game's long-term potential.

"Some sell-side analysts have such bad tunnel vision on the market that they fail to understand the mechanics of the MMO vertical," Divnich said. "Whether MMO, console game, mobile, or social, each have a completely different business model. It is erroneous to apply success metrics from other verticals to the MMO market and that is exactly what a lot of analysts are doing."

Divnich also noted that EA still has a number of options to boost player numbers and engagement, should the company deem it necessary.

Baird & Co. analyst Colin Sebastian echoed Divnich's sentiment, telling GameSpot, "The game doesn't appear to be the smash hit that some had [thought], but I think it's way too early to be signing the death warrant."

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229 comments
nagilumsadow
nagilumsadow

EA can use gimmicks to boost number for a while, but it doesn't negate one fundamental truth: SW:TOR is a horrid "mmorpg"

SKaREO
SKaREO

From Star Wars to Battlefield 3 to Mass Effect 3. They couldn't have destroyed their games more if they tried. I almost suspect that internal developers have sabotaged their software to intentionally cause the ruin of their publisher.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

@StuBishbat Yeah, Obsidian made it. And Bioware basically said "KOTOR 2 didn't happen". Complete BS.

StuBishbat
StuBishbat

@AuronAXE before you judge Bioware for KOTOR 2, make sure you know that they didn't develop it

megakick
megakick

EA doesn't win, Lucas wins...

darckdeth
darckdeth

well the good news is the w8 time has been fixed almost entirely atleast on the US east coast side of things. and sure gameplay may not be revolutionary but hey its there first mmo no faults there because the area that they did want to be revolutionary is just indeed that and thats the story aspect of the mmo genre. and to they dude comment about ME and DA I give DA to you but ME was changed for the better I can barely play through the first ME now its too slow and combat is boring and with a game like ME if you look at it it is more of an action experience.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

@Lockedge I see your point. It just sucks. Not much else to it.

Lockedge
Lockedge

@AuronAXE Bioware was put in a tough spot a ways back. Go with a big publisher, flex your fanbase loyalty as a way to gain creative control, and make the games they always had envisioned.....or go with a smaller publisher and do some licensed material again like WotC's Forgotten Realms crap(the games were good, the source material was very weak) and forget ever having enough leeway for one mediocre release in the increasingly expensive gaming marketplace. So they went with EA, who wanted a piece of them. And then they started on more original IPs. And EA took more and more control, for sure, and certainly budgeted their time around SWTOR, rushing Dragon Age 2 out a full year before it was ready, and likely having rushed ME3 to a degree where a number of areas of the game will likely be half-baked. To be honest, I don't blame them for selling themselves to EA. Look what happens when a good developer puts out a great game that's ignored, or a mediocre game due to it being rushed out by the publisher...those devs go out of business. Case in point: Free Radical. A string of successes, and one rushed to release game killed them. They got bought out by Crytek and haven't really done much aside from pitch in to Crysis 2's MP, and likely won't have their game project ideas come into fruition any time soon, if ever. Not many developers can absorb a loss. Bioware's doing the best with what resources and time they are given.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

@trumafioso Ooooh server wait time. Yeah must be GOTY lets feed EA and Bioware more money and encourage them to make more games for casuals. The fact is MMO's are all MOSTLY using standards that were set by Everquest and by today thats really outdated. TOR does not innovate gameplay-wise. Instead of listening to the fans that made Bioware who they are today they turned Mass Effect and Dragon Age into action-series and COMPLETELY insulted KOTOR fans by making KOTOR 2 non-canon and trying to make TOR an "unofficial sequel". Look I'd love to give them a chance and if they make it through the turmoil, good for them. I just don't like this idea from the start. Gamers opinions are being forgotten, money is more remembered then ever.

trumafioso
trumafioso

@WolfGrey It's not EA forcasting this, it's an independent market forecaster. @AuronAXE The game is not mediocre. It is an enjoyable gaming experience that is also a critical success. Also, I'd like to say that as a player since release, server wait times were minimal. waiting 30 seconds in a queue is fairly low compared to other games at release. Hell, WoW during releases of new expansions have queues on many servers that can last for hours. I say kudos to EA and Bioware. Stick through the early turmoil and show the naysayers that SWTOR has what it takes to be here for the next 5 years

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

@Ezio_2009 Don't take Megakick seriously....ever. lol Jeez EA, the game has a ton of subscribers and the servers are packed every day. Sorry its not to your expectations when its bloody successful. Only needed 500,000 subscribers remember? Nevermind the big content update and another big one is on the way. Just no more Rakghouls ok?

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

The game is mediocre and the customer-service is atrocious. At one point they removed the unsubscribe button. This is just a horrible endeavour. Where have the days gone Bioware, why are you making such garbage.

RoethIisberger
RoethIisberger

So the servers were screwed up even though sales were considered "below expectations"? Stellar job, EA.

luc11044
luc11044

EA and Multiplayer? Don't they always have server issues when they launch a game.... one word for that...incompetence!

Landsharkk
Landsharkk

Well I'm enjoying it a lot. The Quest cut-scenes for every quest and voice acting for every single quest, it's very fun! No more reading blocks of text to learn about quests, SWTOR is very engaging with the storyline and gameplay.

Ezio_2009
Ezio_2009

@megakick You cant compare a console game to a MMO. To do so is idiocy.

GBASWFan
GBASWFan

I want to play TOR, but I cant wrap my head around paying a monthly fee for a game that I will eventually get bored of. All I can say is, expect the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer to be unplayable for a while.

brkdwnxx
brkdwnxx

i wonder when EA is going to wake up and realize (despite how many people feel about the company) that every game they publish is going to be a huge hit and should set up their servers to handle it. i swear, every game under the EA banner that comes out gets crippled for weeks or months due to "an overwhelming reaction from the fan base" well sh*t, doods, you're already raking in like 20% of all the money in the WORLD. find a plot in the desert and build a 300,000 acre facility dedicated to server bays! freaking noobs.

DarthPlush
DarthPlush

LOL sounds like the "analysts" have no idea what they're talking about. Even worse, sounds like these "fears" are being raised by the vocal minority rather than the quiet majority. Ah well, I never believe analysts anyway. I'd love their job though - get paid to say crap.

megakick
megakick

This Game didn't not fair well IMO Star Wars is a huge IP. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed did better. Not good not good.

kez1304
kez1304

blah blah blah... EA will make a profit on this, easily. After being released for only 35 days (read 5 weeks), how can anyone, even so called 'experts', make assumptions on how well it's going to do in 2 years time? I would say over 1 million subs, at £9 a pop is a fair amount of income for any MMO. A lot of people often don't jump on the MMO bandwagon until it's seen through its first quarter. A lot of people also don't spend 8 hours a day playing a computer game, instead maybe 8 hours a week. £9 a month, is also not a lot of money, at all. My local charges £3.50 for a pint. I can sacrifice 2 pints and 5 cigarettes a month - totalling a whopping 1 hours enjoyment, for 32 hours of living in the Star Wars universe.

slyguy65
slyguy65

@fredwv....ever think about taking a break and just not oh idk just not play so much? If the leveling is anything like WoW it shouldn't take you a month to reach level cap i played WoW a long time ago back when the cap was 60 it took around 4 5 months....moderation is really needed now a days.

styymy
styymy

Hahaha just like the oil speculators, speculation has invaded gaming. Analysts need to mind their business, they've messed up gas prices and wall street enough as it is.

strayfies
strayfies

Maybe their stockholders weren't privy to what WoW looked like in its first month of launch. One month out of the gate, the answers they find are almost certainly going to change. In this industry there's probably nothing less predictable than the longevity of an MMORPG. How many times have we thought "Jeez THAT game is still up?" but marveled at how This Other Game tanked when it had so much going for it? I can think of a few and not with difficulty.

fredwv
fredwv

It's not a horrible game. I've been level 50 a few weeks and have become rather bored. Endless pvp grinding and ho hum instances. I'm hoping it gets better. Time will tell.

lamensmari
lamensmari

MMO RPGs are an investment in my opinion if youre gonna play them you gotta plan on playing them for awhile or you'll waste your money. I do feel they should have left this shift alone and stuck to a KOTOR mechanic. The bottom line is money. I will totally pay 60 dollars for Kingdoms of Amalur with 200+ hrs of gameplay rather than buy SWTOR and have an additional monthly fee. I do like SWTOR but i could have been more satisfied with a single player campaign revolving around the different classes and storyline and then possible a DLC if you will that would include instance type multiplayer with some social elements.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Fear is the path to the Dark Side, but such are ways of the stock market, their shareholders succumbed to the terror of not knowing what is to come.

prince__vlad
prince__vlad

Oldboy08 said: @prince__vlad Just because a game looks bad (and from what I've seen this game doesn't look bad) doesn't mean it's a bad game. I am currently playing MGS1 which I bought on the PSN...now THAT game looks awful compared to the top of the line games. But it's still a damn fine game with an amazing story. Now, I won't be getting this game since I am not a Pc gamer and don't have the money to pay monthly fees let alone build a gaming PC, but to say a game is bad because the graphics aren't top notch is just...stupid. Really ? Do you know what year is ? Or did you live in a cave pal in the last 10-15 years ? A game today if it looks bad...there is no place for it on market. Otherwise why invest in new graphic engines at all and what is the point of PROGRESS itself ? So the stupid is YOU because you are unable to comprehend simple things ;) PS - about the part.. "the game is top notch" spare me. It's at its best a mediocre one. If you want a good game on this theme , play Jedi Oucast 2. or Jedi Academy

JRLennis
JRLennis

(Cont.) If a player finds a game easy, it should be because they're really good at it, not because the game was designed to be that way. This is one of the appeals of RPG's - careful planning, preparation, and smart play leads to success. Right now, you don't have to do much of that in TOR. Of course, it's entirely possible that enemy AI may be improved at some point in the future, but since most areas of the game are open-world rather than instanced, I'm not confident this will happen. The devs don't want to handicap players that prefer rushing through content and don't really think about how well they're playing. As an aside, I can tell you that in Guild Wars a regular mob can easily kill you in most areas if you don't have a balanced party and some understanding of your skillset. I'm not saying this as a GW fanboy - just as an example of how gameplay is balanced in a proven successful product. I want TOR to be as successful as Guild Wars, but it has some work to do.

JRLennis
JRLennis

Reading this article has made me think about some concerns I've been having in my last few sessions of TOR. Making financial predictions this early is a bit unwarranted for an MMO, but I'm still a bit worried about the game's future from a critical standpoint. Chief among my concerns is the challenge behind most of the game's content. There isn't any. Outside of flashpoints and PvP, the game is so easy that your life is never in any real danger. Learning your classes' skillsets and getting good at using them isn't so much about staying alive, but clearing mobs in the quickest possible time and picking up their vendor trash. Even aggroing more than one group at a time does little except slow down your loot run - if it even does that. Seeing as this rinse and repeat goes on throughout the story-based content, which is the game's main selling point, a degree of boredom is creeping into the overall experience. Someone said that mobs in the beta used crowd control to gain an advantage. Losing that was a mistake. As long as the AI doesn't use cheap exploits that a player can't counter with a proper build, why not up the challenge and make your adventures more meaningful? Should the game just be a race to get from one story sequence to the next? That's not a recipe for long-term appeal. The game behind the story has to be as compelling as the story itself to succeed in this business.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

I'm afraid that's what happens when you take what may have been a good single player game and put it in a MMO shell so you can charge people a monthly fee.

yattaze
yattaze

Star Wars Galaxies + Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic = Star Wars: The Old Republic. Only one worth my acknowledgement was, is, and, until further notice, will still be "Jedi Outcast". Make a sequel to that and then I'll care. Until then, the only fun part of Star Wars games is the cut scenes.

Gooshnads
Gooshnads

The problem with this game is that they take the same formula and only refines on it, it doesn't exactly have any gameplay elements that affect the gameplay overall

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

@davegl1234: "If you want KOTOR 3, its here, along with a wealth of online and social features that make it even better." Okay, I'll pay $50.00 US *once* for permanent full access to SWTOR and all of its content, including both existing content and all future expansions and updates. What? That's what I'd pay for KOTOR 3. I'm not paying hundreds of dollars for a video game, I don't care how good it is or how much I'd like to play it. That's one of the many reasons why I'd buy KOTOR 3 and *not* SWTOR. If I want social networking, there's Facebook and all other sorts of social networking sites I can join for free. I don't even know what you meant by "online features", so I'm letting that drop. Let's face it, MMOs are just another overpriced time-killer in the way that Gauntlet sucked down quarters in the old arcade days. You only get so much, and you have to keep spending money to keep playing. That's why the home systems killed the arcades, remember? Why keep paying to play the arcade games when you can get the same game at home, with reasonable graphics, and you only have to buy the game once? RIP arcades, we still miss you.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

@davegl1234: (part 2/2) It's just that simple...I won't be playing it because it's too expensive, and because it doesn't focus on the story (you can't focus on story when you have hundreds of thousands of other players changing the story on a regular basis). I don't mind level grinding, but I don't buy SW stuff for level grinding - I buy Disgaea for level grinding (note: *buy*...you can't buy an MMO). And finally, I can still whip out KOTOR 1 or 2, install it, and play it. Once the MMO servers are shut down, everything you did is *gone*. You can't play anymore, even if you want to. You can't go back and play it again. You're done, end of line. This is why I want KOTOR 3. I'll save my money until it comes out...or another company's game comes out that I like better than SWTOR. Diablo 3, Mass Effect 3, and Twisted Metal are coming soon. And if they make a Mass Effect MMO, I won't be playing that either, for all the reasons I already stated. *hops off soapbox*

Tortimandinn
Tortimandinn

TriumphantToad, i have played few. did try star wars galaxies and it was autoaim got fast bored but then they changed it and game was alot more fun. only mmo i still play is DAOC becoz they combat system there is the best. been there for 7 years. I just dont like autoaim combat no matter what game it is. :)

Chefjase
Chefjase

Just though I'd chime in. I'm new to mmos, as this is my first. So far at level 18 I am really enjoying this game. I mostly have done single player so far and have barely scratched the surface(just got my ship). I have found the story to be both simple at times, and deeply rewarding(my first flashpoint mission). I still need to get used to the crew mission system in order to generate income, the good gear is pretty expensive. But the graphics are decent on my middle range laptop and the combat is fun, though I would love to hold a 360 controller...maybe someday. Anyways, I hope this game lasts at least as long as SWG, so I will have plenty of time to play it.

rmartinezdl
rmartinezdl

This game will go free to play or it will fail, mark my words.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Investors should really do their own research instead of banking their wealth on the opinions of a few professionals and then cry out when those professionals do not deliver. On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Mitchell's comment only catalyzed a fear already present in the market about SWTOR. Either way, it's bad news. I hope people with a personal opinion on SWTOR don't feel either enraged or empowered by this news. Its basis is mainly numerical and its purpose financial. It really has no bearing on how individuals feel about the game.

colt_a
colt_a

@TriumphantToad I've been playing since beta / day 1 early access. You are either lying, or you haven't past level 20 or so (and done few to no flashpoints). I'm currently 50 and as a huge fan of the game I will tell you this: 1-20 content is almost perfect. Tested a ton. 20-40 is bearable but definitely has bugs. 40+ is a wreck. Flashpoints dont work, game crashes constantly in high level zones. Many quests don't work. Loot only drops about 50% of the time from raid bosses. Its abysmal in its current state. That is the real reason they are expecting more than normal churn numbers. Many people are getting higher to see that it only gets worse, not better. I am renewing for one month to give them that to see if they make the game playable up top. If its not done by Feb 19th (my renew date), then I will definitely cancel. I know I'm not alone in that sentiment either.

GarGx1
GarGx1

@tforbes I agree with you, mostly, but I'm certain Diablo III will launch with bugs, there are far too many different configurations of pc's out there for anything new to be bug free.

voldalin
voldalin

According to statistics, people who bought this game also bought Skyrim. Maybe everyone is playing Skyrim?

voldalin
voldalin

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

tforbes
tforbes

@TriumphantToad Are you joking? maybe level a character past level 6 and you might notice them. I love the game, but god damn there are a lot of stupid bugs. I accept them though because what game doesnt launch without bugs these days? Blizzard is really the only company that spends time to release complete games and to go through extensive testing beforehand.

TriumphantToad
TriumphantToad

@ANYONE_COMPLAINING_ABOUT_BUGS WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY?????? I'VE SEEN A TOTAL OF THREE VISUAL BUGS THAT AFFECTED NOTHING!

TriumphantToad
TriumphantToad

@gxgxgf Uh, by what possible standard is the game "failing hard"? Some people like it, some people don't, but it's got a bunch of subscribers.

TriumphantToad
TriumphantToad

@Tortimandinn Looks like someone's never played an MMO before.

TriumphantToad
TriumphantToad

I really don't see this as a potentially failing mmo. It may not grow as explosively as WoW did, but there are plenty, PLENTY of people who love the game and plan to continue playing it.