Bioware: "There will always be a place for premium content at a premium price"

Owen Hill

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We've already reported on John Smedley's take on subscription-based MMOs. The Sony Online Entertainment president told gamesindustry.biz that they're on the way out: "In my opinion [Star Wars: The Old Republic] is going to be the last large scale MMO to use the traditional subscription business model. Why do I think that? Simply put, the world is moving on from this model and over time people aren't going to accept this method."

Now the Bioware doctors have had a chance to respond. Their upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic, will require subscription costs identical to the already-established World of Warcraft. That's $14.99/£8.99/€12.99 per month.

Speaking to Industry Gamers about Smedley's comments, Bioware's Greg Zeschuk seems to think that gamers will always be willing to cough up for quality: "Those are very kind words in a way. It's interesting - I think there will always be a place for premium content at a premium price and that's one of the differences."

Greg reckons brand loyalty is also a factor: "Free to play is very much about trial, about 'Hey, I don't know what this is, I don't have confidence that it's any good, but I'm willing to take a look at it,' versus 'I know this is good, from a trusted source, and it's the biggest license in the world.' So it's a different value proposition."

WoW\'s numbers are dropping, but it\'s still the biggest subscription MMO around.

Fellow Bioware bigwig, Ray Muzyka had his say too: "There's more competition for entertainment dollars now than ever before from social and play for free, and all sorts of entertainment, which I think is actually really healthy from an entertainment industry perspective."

Muzyka also thinks quality of product is the most important aspect: "I agree with Greg that there's a space for a certain number of premium products that are subscription based or whatever the premium pricing model is. But they have to merit it, they have to earn that from a consumer trust perspective and delivering and exceeding expectations. I think The Old Republic is definitely in that triple-A premium category. That's the feedback reading from the players and data testing."

Has free to play changed the way you spend cash on games? Will you be laying down a subscription for The Old Republic? Let's talk cold hard cash in the comments.

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