SWTOR: Not Doomed?

DailyTech is reporting that the development (not marketing) butdget for Star Wars; The Old Republic is $80+ million.

That’s a lot of money, but it’s a far cry from the previously-rumored $300 million, and if this is true, then it radically changes my previous predictions (based on that larger number) of utter doom for SWTOR. At that budget, while the projections provided in the article (of 1.5 millions subs,) are quite optimistic, it’ll be very possible to turn a profit on the thing.

One factor I didn’t consider, though, is that LucasArts gets one-third straight off the top. This was of course going to be a factor, but it wasn’t clear what the cut was going to be. One-third is big but not surprising. Bear also in mind that, reading the aricle closely, there’s some accounting magic going one here, whereby the development costs don’t count against the game’s bottom line. Are there other costs that aren’t visible to the “analysts” cited by the article? Maybe, plus there’s the estimated marketing costs of $20+ million. But I figure these numbers are much better information than we had to work with before.

4 responses to “SWTOR: Not Doomed?

  1. I’ve always suspected the 200-300 million numbers that were being thrown around were overblown. If those are even ballpark, we can safely assume that the total budget is 150 million or less which is a lot more normal for a “big budget” MMMO than 300 million.

  2. I believe the $300 million figure was always a fake, started by that EAlouse guy that even came out afterward and said he was talking out of his ass. Unfortunately, the rumor he started was given wide attention; his redaction, on the other hand, was not.

  3. Isn’t it funny how the actual development budget has been scaled back in talking points since January?

    This does not bode well…

    The only way that they get to “80 million” in a voice, graphic etc content rich game like SWTOR was originally supposed to be… is to really cook the numbers. [you could easily blow about 5 million on voice overs alone]

    1) They are only counting “coders coding” dollars and are capitalizing graphics/voice costs across titles (this is dicey but allowable)
    2) They are counting only certain coding as “in the game” and capitalizing the development in some other bucket (new game, “server platform – for more than one game” etc)

    or more ominously
    3) They decided to jettison a major portion of the code base (in essence writing it off as a loss – much like Blizzard did Q4 2010) and are repackaging the new new SWTOR as an 80 million dollar developed game where they can claim the “cost controlled” the heck out of it and it will be profitable day one.

    Note here: they were 4 years in development the assertion that there were just 40 guys doing development during that time is absurd so the 80 million budget is a bogus number.

    some numbers that make this 80 totally stupid:
    Voice 5 million
    Dev Tools 5 million (easily) – engine, compilers, source control, databases, graphics tools etc
    Dev HW 1 Million
    IT Support 1 million
    Graphics 20% total budget or 16 million (if you are lucky… SW looks great should be 30%)
    Marketing 1 mill/yr so 4 million (don’t forget video trailers, forum moms)
    Office,overhead, electricity etc 1 million/yr 4 million
    Project management at least 10% total budget or 8 million
    = 41 million so far

    assuming 150k per FTE programmer(good assumption these days – benies, sick, taxes) this means you have
    7 FTE/yr for 1 million OR about 39 x 7 FTE-years = 273 … 68 programmers coding away for 4 years

    Given an average line of code productivity of 12500 [most SLOC assumptions are closely held] but anyway
    this give us 68 progs x 4 years x 12500 sloc = 3.4 million lines of code

    My best guess is WOW at launch was closer to 10 million – SWTOR will be at least that so… 80 million underestimates it by 1/3

    [NOTE – I did not include HW in my estimates nor did I estimate HW on actual playing server and data center support… so these numbers are bad by about 10% due to dev HW…. player HW is anyones guess most companies do a hosting agreement with a big player like IBM or such so that could expense could be realized as you go]

    as to the 300 million (especially after I ran the numbers above) … I believe that this is closer to the truth but I would go with a number closer to 200 mill + If anything they would keep shy of 300 million to keep bad PR down.

  4. I think, they will get 600k of subscribers at most. I could speculate about the redemption saying it will 2-3 years. They will make a deal but never like WoW with 12 Million.