Game publisher Electronic Arts today announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic, one of the company’s most anticipated online games, will come out in December this year.
The Old Republic is Electronic Arts’ Hail Mary pass in online games and aims to rip users away from rival online games, such as Blizzard Entertainment’s seven-year-old game colossus World of WarCraft. If Electronic Arts succeeds, it will have persistent revenues coming in from subscription fees charged to users. Electronic Arts’ game is expected to be a subscription-only premium title.
BioWare, the team behind the original Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect games, is developing The Old Republic. Electronic Arts is hoping that throwing that team, which knows how to make games with a great story and cinematic experience, will be enough to pull subscribers away from World of Warcraft — which has dominated the online gaming space for nearly 7 years.
World of Warcraft has more than 11 million subscribers and has dominated the subscription-based online gaming industry since it came out in 2004. The game is a massive source of revenue for Blizzard Entertainment, which charges gamers around $15 each month to access the game’s persistent world. Electronic Arts will use a similar subscription model, charging around $15 per month.
Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello said Star Wars: The Old Republic needs 500,000 paying subscribers to break even and 1 million subscribers to be profitable. If Electronic Arts gets 1.5 million to 2 million subscribers, it will be enough to “make it look like a great investment and justify the purchase of BioWare Pandemic (the developer behind The Old Republic),” Riccitiello said. Electronic Arts bought BioWare Pandemic for $800 million in 2008.
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