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Bobby Kotick questions Star Wars Old Republic's economics

Suggests Lucasarts will be only beneficiary.

With Star Wars: The Old Republic, EA will mount its second major attack on Activision Blizzard dominance within months.

The first attack, remember, was Battlefield 3 on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick's response? To doubt EA's ability to turn a profit with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

"Lucas is going to be the principal beneficiary of the success of Star Wars," Kotick said at a Reuters Media Summit this week.

"We've been in business with Lucas for a long time and the economics will always accrue to the benefit of Lucas, so I don't really understand how the economics work for Electronic Arts."

Kotick reportedly downplayed the suggestion that SWTOR would steal WOW subscribers, and warned that producing an MMO success was historically and statistically harder than it looks.

"If you look at the history of the people investing in an MMO and achieving success, it's a small number," he said.

World of Warcraft has been losing subscribers. In October 2010, prior to the launch of expansion Cataclysm, WOW had 12 million players. Today, WOW has 10.3 million subscribers.

Those 1.7 million cast-offs, should they join SWTOR, would make EA's MMO a success. EA boss John Riccitiello told investors recently that his game, which is rumoured to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, will only need 500,000 subscribers to turn a profit.

How many fidgety World of Warcraft players actually do jump ship, at least temporarily (as has been the case with past MMO launches), remains to be seen. And whether Star Wars: The Old Republic packs the depth and breadth to retain them will be interesting to see.

Consider Battlefield 3's battle against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, however, and how both companies produced their biggest game launches ever. Given that, perhaps there's ample room for both WOW and SWTOR after all.

The Jedi Consular.

Star Wars: The Old Republic was finally opened to the public, via a huge closed beta test, this weekend passed. The game will launch, to limited quantities, on 20th December.

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