With Record Demand, EA Confident In The Old Republic Server Scalability, Profitability
Though BioWare's upcoming MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic has the most preorders in Electronic Arts history, the company is confident that it is prepared to keep the game running smoothly at launch.
"We've got a really aggressive plan to be able to scale multiple millions of users," EA's Frank Gibeau explained on a Gamasutra-attended conference call.
"We're pretty relaxed about what we're going to be able to achieve there. We'll be able to scale up and light up new severs on a fairly quick basis. We've got a plan to do that over the months following ship, and we've got a lot of capacity built into that," he continued.
While Gibeau was unwilling to give exact preorder numbers, he did say that what the company is seeing is ahead of its internal goal for a successful launch.
"It's the largest number we've done at EA comparison to other titles; the next closest title was Battlefield 3, and it was up significantly from there," he added.
The company is hoping to appeal to lapsed World of Warcraft players, said Gibeau, which make up a good part of what EA sees as a healthy MMO market, though admittedly one that is hard to track.
"Our internal judgment shows [the overall MMORPG player base] in the double digits millions of subscribers in the Western markets," explained EA CEO John Riccitiello. That number ranges somewhere in the 12 to 14 million range depending on which games are included, and higher "if you start including some of the lower price-per-month competitors," he said.
"This is a product that starts to make profitability at about a half a million subs," he said. "At about a million subs it's a business that makes good money on an ongoing basis, but it doesn't feel great about the historical investment that sort of got us here.
"And anything north of a million, as we approach a million and a half or two, starts to look like a great investment, and justifies the entire purchase price... of BioWare in a very positive way."
While a launch date has not been set for Star Wars: The Old Republic, an announcement is expected to be made around September, according to Gibeau.