Can Star Wars Topple World of Warcraft?

In the past week, both Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) and Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) have reported earnings and beaten analyst estimates. A focal point for both companies is the success of their massively multiplayer online (MMO) games World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic, respectively. If successful, these franchises can drive profits for a decade or more. World of Warcraft is more than 7 years old and the up-until-now undisputed king of the MMO hill. In the following video, we'll take a look the pros and cons of each franchise and ask whether Star Wars: The Old Republic be a Warcraft killer?

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David Forrest owns shares of no companies listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of and has written calls on Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nintendo and Activision Blizzard and creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2012, at 2:09 PM, steveat wrote:

    The Blizzard franchise is a successful one, but for their Warcraft brand, they are losing ground and if there is any company that can supersede them it's gotta be EA.

    Now, to all you non-gamers...all expansions up till now has NEVER been as good as the original release back in Jan 2005 which is also known as "Vanilla"..meaning pure and not mixed in with anything.

    Every single expansion after that was geared towards the commodity market. Blizzard wanted to increase their userbase, thus making the game mainstream instead of only targetting the hardcore gamer. ie. In the expansions, rare items were MUCH easier to get and the game overall became easier. Every expansion after Vanilla has not only Pissed off hardcore gamers, but also diluted what was once a game where you needed actual "skill" to defeat endgame goals.

    The loss of userbase is the hardcore gamers leaving. many were burnt out, went to other games or improved their social lives.

    Blizzard has gotten to a point where they are milking the userbase. The initial Vanilla release went from level 1 to level 60 and for about 3 years it was that way. After which 2 x expansions were released which went from level 61 level 70 and the second went from level 71 - level 80. This is where the milking comes in. The third expansion pack only goes from level 81 - level 85 and that is how the rest of the expansions will work. It will go by 5 level increments for about 2 years per release up to level 100.

    Bottom line! Warcraft has hit its peak. It won't get any better than this..actually it's on its way down.

    Their Starcraft release doesn't have near the stickiness as it's predecessor, the original Starcraft. IF Blizzard turns Starcraft into another MMORPG then I would re-invest. The Diablo release is an interesting one because it will be the only game where you can actually make money from. I would have to see the business model before deciding to invest.

    My opinion...drop Blizzard and put your money in somewhere else. Elvis has left the building. I wouldn't say you are going to lose money, but the big gains are gone. If anything you may make .50 cents per share in the next year or two.

    Not worth my time. Read their forums..hundreds of people quitting daily.

  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2012, at 2:16 PM, steveat wrote:


    To reinforce my "sell" status...(I used to be a gaming industry analyst.)

    You will notice the Panda and Pokemon references in the upcoming expansion release. It has a huge backlash amongst the current userbase for 2 reasons.

    1. The ONLY reason Blizzard is doing this is because they are desperately trying to gain a new level of userbase from the Kung Fu Panada/Pokemon generation which are users between 10 - 25. The are trying to gain a demographic that has already tried WoW and left. WHEN a company does something out of depseration, I have NO confidence and the risk of failure is WAY too high.

    2. There are a NUMBER of issues, bugs, fixes, imbalance that are NOT currently being adressed. The concensus is that the company has utilized their resources wrong and the allocation of resources went to building an expansion instead of fixing current problems.

    I predict that there will be a peak when the release comes out then a drop of more than 50% between 3-6 months after release.

    Most players actually buy the realease, hit the max level and stop. This process will continue until the final expansion comes out.

    When that happens, i will have a better idea if WoW has any legs left.

  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2012, at 10:00 PM, scottiegazelle wrote:

    As a long-time wow player, I'm with Steve. Whether or not Star Wars can be the "next" WoW isn't even the question in my mind - it's "how much longer will WoW keep being WoW?" In an effort to attract new players/customers, Blizzard has forgotten that it's cheaper to retain old customers. The elements that drew many to the game are getting drowned in the characteristics that the steady fan base loved. Many people are moving on to Star Wars, yes, but there are plenty of people who have gone to Starcraft or other games, or even <gasp> stopped playing.

    I'm interested whether or not Blizzard can duplicate its success, but if its retention efforts are any indication, I don't have a lot of hope.

    WoW is dying; Blizzard has slowly strangled its golden goose, and I don't see a good replacement.

  • Report this Comment On February 14, 2012, at 12:45 AM, babyballa5987 wrote:

    Great job on this!

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