Star Wars the Old Republic is in the throes of decline. The sci-fi MMO is losing subscribers in double-digit rates, its core developers are being laid off, and its veteran executive producer has recently pressed the self-eject button. And all those setbacks happened just in the last three months.
The Woes of SWTOR
It's clear that SWTOR is falling from the hype high it enjoyed when it first launched last year.
Publisher EA announced in its latest May earnings statement that active SWTOR subscribers dropped to 1.3 million from 1.7 million in the span of a single fiscal quarter - a gut-punching decline of 400,000 subscribers. This translates to a 23.5% loss in playerbase. Most of those who left were "casual and trial players," according to EA.
EA would have us believe that hardcore fans are still hanging around, rollicking in the populist Patch 1.3 improvements, and leveling new alts to experience a new storyline. We're inclined to believe it, if only based on how SWTOR Credits prices have been performing.
New Patches Dictate Currency Prices, Not Subscriber Count
Hardcore fans, based on our general assumption, will have reached the endgame already with a maxed out character. They will be the ones raiding, battling in PvP Warzones and grinding out a new alt or two. They will be the most likely to purchase SWTOR Credits to fund their activities.
The introduction of new patches re-energizes the hardcore fans even more, as it gives them new features to play with and new content to finish. This is also renews demand for SWTOR Credits - at least those among them who would rather purchase than grind a new stash of virtual currency.
Cases in point are the two latest patches, also known as game updates, for SWTOR. Before Game Update 1.2: Legacy was released in early April, SWTOR Credits went as low as $2 per 200,000 credits back in
April based on the SWTOR Credits (US) price tracker here at MMOBUX.
A few weeks after the release of its Patch 1.2, prices surged back to $12 per 200,000 credits in May, before easing to around $4 per 200,000 credits in June, when presumably the hardcore fans have already finished a good portion of the patch content.
Then came Game Update 1.3: Allies in late June. The content patch introduced a Group finder tool and Legacy perks, which helped trigger a massive upswing in SWTOR Credits prices to as high as $15 per 200,000 credits, a level it hasn't seen since February.
SWTOR patches determine the swing of Credits prices - a behavior we also observed in EVE Online - not total subscriber count. It is perfectly plausible, as SWTOR illustrates, that currency buyers remain while everyone else leaves the game. RMT sellers who obsess about subscriber numbers would do well to remember that other factors play a more decisive role in determining demand and prices.
SWTOR is Sinking But Why Are Credits Prices Rebounding?
By Frank Lewis, Jul 19, 2012