Star Wars: The Old Republic can be profitable with 500,000 subs

Electronic Arts upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic can reach profitability with 500,000 subscribers, according the CEO John Riccitiello.

Speaking in a conference call to investors, he said that half a million subscribers would be “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,” continued Riccitiello. “Essentially it turns on a dime from being quite sharply negative in terms of its EPS impact to positive the day the product ships.”

Earlier in the call Riccitiello had said EA is “incurring significant development costs” for the Star Wars MMO, which is expected to be released in 2011, although after the close of the financial year.

But he was also critical of reports in the press speculating on the costs of the game, in development at BioWare, which CFO Eric Brown has previously described as the “largest ever development project, period, in the history of the company.”

“There’s been a fair amount of talk on various blogs, describing spends that are vastly higher than anything we’ve ever put in place. Some of them, they bring a chuckle but they also bring a frustration for those that are being responsible in the management of EA’s R&D dollars when they read sort of falsehoods out of the press.”

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