500,000 subscribers is a pretty low number when compared to the juggernaut amount of users who play World of Warcraft, but the upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic only needs a drop in the bucket in comparison to turn a profit.
In a conference call, EA CEO John Riccitiello stated that only 500,000 users would be enough for the title to become profitable. His statement follows:
"At half a million subscribers, the game is substantially profitable, but it's not the kind of thing we would write home about. Anything north of a million subscribers, it's a very profitable business."
The figure is also a good indicator of the actual subscriber costs The Old Republic would be charging. Currently, WoW costs $14.99/month and has a high point of around $78/6 months. If EA uses a similar price, 500k users would net them around $7.4 million, which sounds awfully far from being the most expensive game EA has ever put out - and the subscriber number has dropped significantly from the 1 million previously reported.
Funny enough, Riccitiello also had something to say regarding the news outlets (maybe including our own) that have stated that The Old Republic is their most expensive game to date.
"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."
As CEO, Riccitiello is probably referring to news reports that shed a critical light on his company's products - like this article.
Despite its cost, with a Mass Effect-like style of conversation and extensive class system, The Old Republic will be both a MMORPG that people are familiar with, but different enough to make it something entirely new, and should have no problem developing a substantial loyal user base.
The Old Republic will be releasing some time in 2011 for the PC.