AusGamers Star Wars: The Old Republic BioWare Developer Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 04:26pm 11/09/12 | Comments
AusGamers caught up with BioWare Austin General Manager Matt Bromberg to talk about the future of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Read on or watch for what he had to say...
Watch the full video interview embedded above, or click here for a direct link.
AusGamers: Ladies and gents, welcome back to AusGamers. You are here once again with Stephen Farrelly, coming to you live from GamesCom. I have Matt Bromberg here, who is... the boss...
Matthew Bromberg: The boss of all bosses [laughs].
AusGamers: ...boss of all bosses, out at BioWare in Austin. Thanks so much for talking to us today.
Matthew: It’s my pleasure.
AusGamers: You guys had a pretty interesting year. Some controversy here and there. Launched The Old Republic, to much praise, and now people are starting to sort of question what’s going on there... So I want to talk about that there, internally for you guys out at BioWare: What’s the vibe?
Matthew: You know, for us it’s really always been about this vision of combining classic BioWare storytelling, and the MMO genre, into sort of a game that no one else had seen before, and we feel that we were really largely successful with that.
Clearly there were some changes and things that we needed to make, but I think the vibe is really good, and people are still really focussed on that vision.
AusGamers: Was there always an internal idea to potentially go down the free-to-play route? Was that always somewhere on the cards? Were you guys just testing the water to see what the outcome would be there?
Matthew: I think for us, we always want to be sensitive to opportunities, and we really saw the market going in that direction, and we really thought there was an opportunity to take advantage of it.
AusGamers: What sort of potential can you guys see, now that you’re actually going down that route? And what hurdles is the team going to have to face?
Matthew: Well the opportunity is pretty clear, in that Star Wars is a big, broad brand. Awareness is through the roof, and they love it, and there are millions of Star Wars fans. So if we can reduce the... lower the separation barrier, I think there’s a real opportunity to introduce the game to lots of new people; and that’s an important piece.
The hurdles are: it’s a balance; you need to get it right. We want our premium subscription players to feel good, and to continue to be happy with the game, and we also want to open it up to new players. So we have to find that balance.
AusGamers: In terms of the content going forward -- at the press conference you guys talked about [new] stuff coming out -- is there a kind of quantifiable volume that you can talk about, in terms of what you would like to see by the end of the year, and then maybe the first quarter of next year?
Matthew: Well we’re committed to: about every six weeks, doing a major update for the game -- which would be a new Warzone, a new Operation, a new Flashpoint, a new event -- and to doing that on a really frequent cadence, every six weeks. So we’re going to stick to that.
AusGamers: In terms of getting those players back, that may have walked away, as well as inviting new guys in, obviously you have the free-to-play thing going now, but what else are you guys doing, in terms of fostering...
Matthew: As well as the free-to-play launch -- which is coming in the fall -- we announced that subscribers who have lapsed are already qualified to get Cartel Coins, which will be the in-game currency in the game once free-to-play launches. So you get credit, not just for becoming a subscriber now, going forward, but also for all the time that you were a subscriber, you get more credits and more coin. So we’re hoping that that will encourage people to come back to the game and try it now.
AusGamers: It seems also... it’s a pretty precarious route to take, to free-to-play. Because obviously there still needs to be monetisation incoming from the product, and you’ve got the in-game purchases and things like that. For you guys, what was the test-bed for you? Did you go and just look at every free-to-play game that was out there; see what people liked, and would pay for; and what people didn’t like and didn’t want to pay for? What’s the process there?
Matthew: Well all of our research told us, with our current players, the subscription barrier had become a real barrier. And that people really enjoyed the game, but that the business model didn’t suit the way they were playing it. So a lot of that information just came from our own research.
Then, absolutely, we’re voracious players of games in this space -- both for research, and just because we enjoy it -- so we tried to take as many lessons as we could from the industry, but also to maybe put our own spin on it.
AusGamers: And is there anything else you can tell me... I mean, you guys are great storytellers, and you’ve got The Old Republic; Mass Effect is now wrapped up. But I’d argue that there is so much left for you guys to do in terms of storytelling. Can you give us a hint at anything that might be coming on the horizon?
Matthew: I agree with you. I think the sort of core qualities of BioWare games, and the ability to tell really deep and engaging stories is as valuable as it has ever been, and we’re really going to stick to that. And we do have a bunch of new stuff on the horizon, but I can’t tell you about any of it [laughs].
AusGamers: Will we hear anything new this year, about anything going forward? Apart from...
Matthew: I’m sure you’ll hear new things this year, but not from me.
AusGamers: Ok. Alright. Fair enough. Well, we’ll leave it there Matt, but thanks so much for your time today. And good luck for the game. I really hope that those Star Wars fans actually get the experience that they’ve been wanting, and that you guys can keep delivering it.
Matthew: Thank you, we’re pretty confident about it.
AusGamers: Ok. Cheers. Thanks.