Interview With Star Wars: The Old Republic Lead Designer Damion Schubert

GenericBadGuy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
567
I listen to a WoW: Classic podcast named "Countdown to Classic" on occasion, and have posted links from it before when the host interviewed original developers of World of Warcraft. This week's episode was different in that the show interviewed Damion Schubert, one of the lead designers on Star Wars: The Old Republic. Damion not only conceptualized the main classes, but was also responsible for the games' "socketing" system and the transition into a free-to-play micro-transaction model. If you are/were a fan of SW:ToR, it is an interesting listen.

This is a link to the episode on the podcast site, but it will also eventually hit Spotify and Youtube. Skip to 1:13:20 - https://countdowntoclassic.com/2019/09/11/episode-121-easy-money/

He has some interesting tidbits such as mirroring some of Jason Schreier's reporting (if I remember correctly) in that not all big unpopular decisions are made by EA. Bioware had a lot of autonomy, even when forming the free-to-play model. What stood out to me and made me raise an eyebrow is that, in Damion's opinion, free-2-play "whales" are necessary for any free to play microtransaction model. In his opinion they are people with more money than sense who allow everyone else to freeload off them. I hope I'm not misinterpreting what he means, but it seemed pretty clear.
 
Nov 23, 2017
3,222
I listen to a WoW: Classic podcast named "Countdown to Classic" on occasion, and have posted links from it before when the host interviewed original developers of World of Warcraft. This week's episode was different in that the show interviewed Damion Schubert, one of the lead designers on Star Wars: The Old Republic. Damion not only conceptualized the main classes, but was also responsible for the games' "socketing" system and the transition into a free-to-play micro-transaction model. If you are/were a fan of SW:ToR, it is an interesting listen.

This is a link to the episode on the podcast site, but it will also eventually hit Spotify and Youtube. Skip to 1:13:20 - https://countdowntoclassic.com/2019/09/11/episode-121-easy-money/

He has some interesting tidbits such as mirroring some of Jason Schreier's reporting (if I remember correctly) in that not all big unpopular decisions are made by EA. Bioware had a lot of autonomy, even when forming the free-to-play model. What stood out to me and made me raise an eyebrow is that, in Damion's opinion, free-2-play "whales" are necessary for any free to play microtransaction model. In his opinion they are people with more money than sense who allow everyone else to freeload off them. I hope I'm not misinterpreting what he means, but it seemed pretty clear.
Shut it down, basically. This is very true and the same people are usually the most susceptible to addiction and other problems.
 

HK-47

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,954
I mean this is basically how free to play works. Whales essentially subsidize the game for all the people who don’t pay.
 

fenners

Member
Oct 27, 2017
539
I am honestly shocked TOR is still up and running.
SWTOR has long been profitable.

By this point, it must be a relatively well oiled machine, development wise with people who know how to work within the constraints of the engine/tools & build content for cheap. It's got a solid userbase that pay money, that pay more than the dev/upkeep costs. Keep it running!
 

fenners

Member
Oct 27, 2017
539
What stood out to me and made me raise an eyebrow is that, in Damion's opinion, free-2-play "whales" are necessary for any free to play microtransaction model.
"From a designer, I realise I'm kind of unique on this, but I love free to play games, because I'm a big hippie. I love people being able to play my games being subsidized by people with more money than sense. On SWTOR, we substantially increased the number of players when we went free to play including subscribers."

"There a lot of people who don't have any money to spend on games." ""In our case, we still had a substantial number of subscribers who added a solid baseline."

To be clear he goes on about how it's really hard to design an ecomony where those with unlimited money to spend can do so without pissing off the people who have little or no money. Cosmetics work in a MMO because it's a social game and how mobile has totally different challenges.

I don't think it's a clear "whales rock & are idiots".