The recent public testing phase of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic attracted 2 million volunteers, according to EA. The publisher says more than 725,000 unique players joined the game over the Thanksgiving weekend, making it "one of the biggest beta tests in history." Some 2.4 million gamers had registered in advance on the game's official website, with 2 million later signing up for the public beta.
The Old Republic publisher shared details of the MMORPG's recent test period at the annual Global Media and Communications Conference hosted by financial services firm UBS. Each beta tester played an average of 12 hours over the postholiday three-day weekend, says EA, with more than 9 million hours cumulatively played over that stretch.
EA chief financial officer Eric Brown told the conference that this high "preregistered and built-in" demand for the product would mean a launch advertising campaign considerably different from those for other high-profile EA titles, with the focus instead on attracting new customers for the long term ("two to four years") and the critical percentage of players who renew their subscription from month to month.
The Old Republic is preparing for launch on December 20 in North America and Europe. Some analysts have estimated that the game will bring in millions of subscribers, while others suggest declining World of Warcraft subscriptions could boost EA's subscriber numbers, with half of surveyed World of Warcraft players saying they intend to buy The Old Republic.