"It's a big bet, but it's the right kind of bet to make for EA."
These are the words of BioWare's Ray Muzyka
, responding to a conference call to EA investors
in which the company admitted that Star Wars: The Old Republic
will need to pull in at least 500,000 subscribers to become profitable. This is substantially less than the two million subscriber mark that industry analysts previously predicted
During the conference call, EA
CEO John Riccitiello
drew a line in the sand between financial failure and victory for The Old Republic
: "At half a million subscribers, the game is substantially profitable, but it's not the sort of thing we would write home about. Anything north of one million subscribers is a very profitable business. Essentially it turns on a dime from being quite sharply negative in terms of its EPS [Earnings Per Share] impact to positive the day the product ships. So it's our view that we can be very successful without fundamentally challenging the market leader
[World of Warcraft
] because we think we'll probably hit the smaller competitors harder when we get out there. Of course, we have no particular ambition to be a distant number two. Our ambitions are higher than that, but we throttle back a little bit relative to our financial projections."
While Riccitiello admitted that the title has seen "significant development costs," he claims that costs proposed by the public are far higher than the actual costs of The Old Republic's
development. He declined to share the actual costs or the number of staff working on the game.
EA also announced that The Old Republic's
release date will be in calendar 2011
. BioWare has as recently as this January targeted a spring 2011 release
. EA's estimate puts its launch somewhere between March 31st and December 31st of this year.