While EA says it is incurring "significant development costs" for its Star Wars-themed MMO The Old Republic
, the company says those costs could turn in to significant profits with relatively moderate subscriber numbers.
"At half a million subscribers, the game is substantially profitable, but it's not the kind of thing we would write home about," EA CEO John Riccitiello said in a Gamasutra-attended conference call accompanying EA's third quarter fiscal earnings report today. "Anything north of a million subscribers, it's a very profitable business."
Riccitiello stressed to investors that the costs being incurred now would "essentially turn on a dime" to profits the day the title ships, a date still targeted for sometime after March but before the end of calendar 2012.
Riccitiello also criticized some news outlets for irresponsible reporting on the game's development costs.
"There's been a fair amount of talk on various blogs describing [Old Republic
development] spends that are vastly higher than anything we've ever put in place," he said.
"Don't read gamer blogs as having any substance. They bring a chuckle, but they also bring a frustration for those that are being responsible with the management of EA's R&D dollars."
In May, EA CFO Scott Brown said
the game was "the largest R&D project EA has ever undertaken in terms of total dollars that we expect to spend bringing the title to market."