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Star Wars: The Old Republic needs only 500K subscribers - EA

CEO John Riccitiello claims that the forthcoming sci-fi MMORPG will be "substantially profitable" with just a half-million subscribers.


During a conference call with analysts following Electronic Arts' earnings report yesterday, executives did not comment on recent reports that Star Wars: The Old Republic has been delayed to September. They did say BioWare's massively multiplayer role-playing game will still ship during the publisher's 2012 fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012. Previously, the game had been slated for a spring 2011 release window.

Star Wars: The Old Republic will need only 500,000 subscribers to be profitable, says EA.
Star Wars: The Old Republic will need only 500,000 subscribers to be profitable, says EA.

While tight-lipped on The Old Republic's date, EA CEO John Riccitiello was quite chatty about some other aspects of the game. First and foremost, he said that according to EA's models, it will not require a mammoth subscriber base a la Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft to turn a profit.

"We previously described to folks that 500,000 subscribers saw the game as substantially profitable, but it's not the kind of thing that we would write home about," he said. "[But] anything north of 1 million subscribers is a very profitable business."

Riccitiello went on to say that as EA sees it, its "leading competitor"--a thinly veiled reference to World of Warcraft--has 6 million of 12 million MMOG subscribers in Western markets. He believes that gives The Old Republic plenty of room to expand without even toppling WOW's dominance.

"So it's our view that we can be very successful without fundamentally challenging the market leader because we think we'll probably hit the smaller competitors harder when we get out there," he said. "Of course, we have no particular ambition to be a distant number two. Our ambitions are higher than that."

Riccitiello also said that The Old Republic is already being put through its QA paces. "We're currently testing it with a large-scale consumer testing, but not the beta scale level in the coming months," he told analysts.

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