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EA:  Old Republic  MMO To Show Profit With 500,000 Subscribers
EA: Old Republic MMO To Show Profit With 500,000 Subscribers
February 1, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

February 1, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC

While EA says it is incurring "significant development costs" for its Star Wars-themed MMO The Old Republic, the company says those costs could turn in to significant profits with relatively moderate subscriber numbers.

"At half a million subscribers, the game is substantially profitable, but it's not the kind of thing we would write home about," EA CEO John Riccitiello said in a Gamasutra-attended conference call accompanying EA's third quarter fiscal earnings report today. "Anything north of a million subscribers, it's a very profitable business."

Riccitiello stressed to investors that the costs being incurred now would "essentially turn on a dime" to profits the day the title ships, a date still targeted for sometime after March but before the end of calendar 2012.

Riccitiello also criticized some news outlets for irresponsible reporting on the game's development costs.

"There's been a fair amount of talk on various blogs describing [Old Republic development] spends that are vastly higher than anything we've ever put in place," he said.

"Don't read gamer blogs as having any substance. They bring a chuckle, but they also bring a frustration for those that are being responsible with the management of EA's R&D dollars."

In May, EA CFO Scott Brown said the game was "the largest R&D project EA has ever undertaken in terms of total dollars that we expect to spend bringing the title to market."

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sean lindskog
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Talking about number of subscribers is pretty vague without saying how long you need them for. That being said, half a mil subscribers (at least in the short term) seems totally do-able for SWToR.

Hayden Dawson
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This must be in response to those reports a set of investors were concerned about the MMO on EA stock. It seems like one of those report low end expectations/needed results so EA suits can keep investors quiet.

Those numbers are drastically low given the expectations of the product.

Rafael Brown
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So is Scott Brown of Feb 2011 telling us not to believe Scott Brown of May 2010? His May 2010 quote seems pretty explicit. I don't quite see where the ambiguity is. And the source isn't a "gamer blog"; it's him in one financial conference call attended by Gamasutra telling us not to believe himself in an earlier financial conference call attended by Gamasutra. Me thinks someone is trying to revise history based on painting himself into an unfavorable corner. Might be better to say he was excited, exaggerating and way off base in the earlier conference call...

Tim Hesse
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This reeks of damage control.

BioWare and the team behind SWTOR has a lot to live up to: Star Wars, BioWare reputation, the failure that was SWG couple that with the 500lb gorilla WoW...

Either that or it's just another WAR/Conan, looks good, feels good, WoW is long in the tooth, people jump ship but aren't hooked or the game is doomed from the start due to bugs or inferior content...hard to compete.

Rodolfo Rosini
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In the MMO subscription market you need around 250k customers to reach profitability. Interesting that SW needs twice as many. As that's just to start a lifestyle business, not any meaningful market maker.

MMO also suffer from negative network effect, ie you need a lot of people constantly coming in to avoid a spiral of death and a "has been" feeling.

This without taking into consideration that users can only buy one or two subscription-based MMOs each, so their strategy is effectively trying to beat Blizzard at their game.

Well EA sounds pretty much fucked to me.

Neil Burton
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With the length of time this has been in development, the reported production values, and the cost of the license on top, it wouldn't surprise me at all if SWTOR had to push harder to get profitable. Having said that, 500K seems eminently achievable.

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Wow. The subscribers wont be the issue...but how long do they need to subscribe and how much is it?

Mun Lee
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I totally want to play it since its in a sci-fi Star Wars universe. How much and how long I need to stay as a subscriber determines if I WILL actually DO IT or NOT.