Through the end of the quarter, approximately 2.4 million units have sold through. In our last call we indicated that we had 1.7 million active subscribers, and as of the end of April we now have 1.3 million, with a substantial portion of the decrease due to casual and trial players cycling out of the subscriber base, driving up the overall percentage of paying subscribers. (EA Q4 FY12 prepared comments, emphasis mine – source 1, 2)
This statement from EA during their Q4 earnings call goes a long way to show that 1) the numbers do include the players getting a free month (seems like they did end up using that as a way to pad numbers) and 2) the endgame model used by Bioware (“please, please, play alts”, operations, PvP) is broken as the casuals are cycling out. You don’t want to lose those casuals and the way to keep them happy and playing doesn’t seem to be offering them the same as the hardcore but at an “accessible” level.
Want to learn from the failures of others? SWTOR is hardly dead in the water, but it offers an opportunity for other game developers to learn valuable lessons for free. Are you listening, Zenimax?