EA expects 2 million subs for SWTOR

Business model has "twists" - Muzyka.

EA has said that it's hoping for over two million subscriptions to BioWare's MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The news comes from Stern Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, who told Industry Gamers after meeting the publisher that the cost of making the vast game was hurting EA's earnings, but that it had "high hopes" for The Old Republic in the long term.

"Earnings are somewhat depressed due to ongoing expenses of the Star Wars MMO, [but] management has high hopes for this and believes two-million-plus subs is possible," Bhatia said.

He also revealed that the game will need over one million paying players to break even, reflecting its enormous development costs as the largest project ever undertaken by EA. While this is a fraction of World of Warcraft's subscriber base, it is considerably larger than the audience reached by most Western MMOs: twice that achieved by EverQuest at its height, twice Blizzard's original target for WOW, and three times the current subscriber numbers for EVE Online and Warhammer Online.

Meanwhile, BioWare boss Ray Muzyka has told Kotaku that, although The Old Republic will follow the standard subscription model for charging players, its pricing may have some "twists".

"[It will] be more of the traditional business model with maybe some twists as well," the good doctor said.

"What we're striving to do... is to make sure the fans and the audience that we're trying to reach feel they are getting something they understand and feel that it is a good value for their money - and feel that there is a way they actually want to engage in the experience, both in how they play it and how they pay for it. That's our high-level goal."

Star Wars: The Old Republic is due for release on PC in spring 2011. Check out our preview from GDC for the latest hands-on impressions, and our quest to uncover the features that make it a massively multiplayer game.

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