Why Does BioWare Charge a Monthly Subscription for SWTOR?

I had a thought the other day, in reading the SWTOR forum. At yet another accusation of greed, something to which I’m sympathetic, it occurred to me that servers, hosting, and patches are not BioWare’s only costs.

What’s the name of the game, here? Star Wars, of course. And when you see that splash screen while loading LucasArts appears prominently. Are they known for being loose with their copyrights? Do you suppose EA Games perhaps pays a hefty, on-going license fee to set this game in George Lucas’s universe? I would bet you a month’s subscription fee that they do.

I’d also bet that any new content BioWare plans has to get the stamp of approval from the folks over at LucasArts. This added layer of bureaucracy, understandable and possibly even necessary though it may be, adds to the cost of running a game of this nature.

And so I have decided to retract my (mostly-off-line) whining about the monthly subscription for SWTOR. If I want to play in the Star Wars universe then I have to pay because they have to pay.

Of course I could whine about George Lucas milking the hard-earned cash of geekdom but he’s been doing that for thirty-five years now. If I were going to hold that against him I’d have stopped caring about Star Wars as soon as Jar-Jar Binks reared his obnoxious head.

That doesn’t mean I hold the subscription for non-franchise MMOs to the same standard. I have a friend who hosts a server for another MMO in his apartment. The company does not pay for the equipment or the electricity to run it and they are not responsible for fixing a problem should there be down time. I would never pay to play such a game beyond the original software price.

But sober reflection on the costs that EA and Bioware incur in hosting and running their own servers as well as expanding on the Star Wars universe has convince me to accept the price of the monthly subscription. Look at it as the price for insider knowledge about the evolving lore of the worlds that have fascinated many of us for decades.

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