During Electronic Arts' fiscal earnings report on Monday, the major publisher revealed that its major MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic
, currently has roughly 1.3 million subscribers -- down significantly from the 1.7 million subscribers
it boasted in February.
It's an alarming drop for EA's flagship online game, but during the company's recent financial earnings call, CFO Ken Barker said that the drop reflects the numerous non-paying subscribers who stopped playing after using up the game's 30-days of free game time.
"The substantial portion of the decrease [for The Old Republic
] was due to lower numbers of trial players, upping the percentage of paying subscribers," Barker said.
"Some of those casual customers have gone through a billing cycle and have decided not to subscribe to the game," added EA Labels president Frank Gibeau.
When asked about the game's financial significance, EA CEO John Riccitiello said, "Its performance right now is in line with Madden
, or The Sims
, but it's more important than Tiger Woods PGA Tour
Late last month, EA's BioWare division denied previous reports
that subscriber counts has declined, and BioWare writer Daniel Erickson said the company is doing "anything and everything"
to increase concurrent user numbers.
Despite the company's record year, the drop in subs -- as well as the company's reduced financial outlook -- have caused shareholders to offload stocks tonight. As of this writing, shares are down over 7 percent in after hours trading.