"spent a lot of time" looking into World of Warcraft's first 12 months, and noted at launch they went "North America only."
EA want the first Star Wars: The Old Republic group to get the "best experience," and quality of service is vital for a new MMO. Will sacrifice numbers short term.
"We've actually studied WoW pretty carefully," said Eric Brown, EA's CFO, at the Citi 2011 Tech Conference this week. BioWare have made it no secret they looked to other MMOs and that you'd be crazy to ignore World of Warcraft.
"We spent a lot of time studying the first twelve months or so of WoW, and just to be clear here, when they initially launched, they did not launch in dual geographies. They went North America only," continued Brown. EA have artificially limited SWTOR copies.
"We really want to make sure that the first group of users into Star Wars has the best experience," he added. The initial wave is vital to a freshly launched MMO.
"For example, when they log on, they have instant access." Even when connected to a "densely-populated world, the bandwidth and response time is excellent. So quality of service is really important to us." They want word-of-mouth to spread.
In the short term for Star Wars: TOR, EA are opting for a "higher level quality of service versus a sheer numerical count of subscribers, because we're quite confident that, with a great game experience at launch, we'll get this viral effect," explained Brown.
EA are hopeful it will attract "whole groups or squads or clans" from other MMOs. BioWare has a "very extensive development plan to make sure there is enough content coming out in intervals," he said, referring to post launch plans.
"We haven't specified it, but industry norm is 18-24 months. And the idea there is to keep the game fresh and interesting for all of the players."
"So the BioWare team, I think, has demonstrated with a number of its packaged goods titles, a really rich, detailed post-launch DLC plan for their console games. They have a similar detailed and rich expansion plan for Star Wars," he continued.
EA aren't naive and do acknowledge "a lot of people are going to burn through the content as quickly as possible, they'll be left ... waiting for the next expansion pack installment." However that content includes a high number of unique quests per character class.
Star Wars: The Old Republic has begun its closed public beta phase with Europe's start delayed until BioWare issues the latest build of the MMO.