Earlier this year, Electronic Arts' CEO said the company could turn a substantial profit on its upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic massively multiplayer online game with as few as 500,000 subscribers. Today, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey said he expects The Old Republic to at least double that figure.
In a note to investors, Hickey assumed the game would be able to draw more than 1 million subscribers within 12 months of launch, generating $162 million in its first full year. He still has some questions about the game, though, and how EA might adapt it to changing trends in online gaming. Specifically, he noted that the emerging free-to-play, microtransaction-driven online game model in China has "essentially devastated" publishers' ability to launch subscription-based games there.
"Wide spread gamer adoption of item based MMO play in US [and] Europe could prove disruptive for [Star Wars: The Old Republic] if a time-based approach is in fact their current sales model consideration," Hickey said. "However, a well conceived and orchestrated item-based sales model or a blended approach could be highly competitive to an entrenched competitor, suggesting a model evolution could prove beneficial to the game's ultimate commercial success."
The Old Republic takes place approximately 300 years after the events of BioWare's original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but some 3,600 years before the events of LucasArts' films. Players can choose to align themselves with either side of the Force, taking on professions like the Sith warrior and bounty hunter for the Dark Side and the trooper and smuggler for the Galactic Republic.
For more on The Old Republic, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.