EA is banking on Star Wars: The Old Republic being the next big thing, and quite literally at that.
The game has reportedly cost the publisher about half a billion dollars to develop, and that’s on top of the $775,000 EA paid for BioWare in the first place. Not even Jabba the Hutt has that kind of cash to throw around.
“I think it’s safe to say that the total all-in investment in Star Wars is probably approaching half a billion dollars,” Doug Creutz of financial analyst firm Cowen & Co told MarketWatch. “EA has minimized its risks as much as it can on this bet, but it’s still a risky bet. To the extent that any one game defines [EA CEO John Riccitiello’s] tenure, it’s going to be how Star Wars performs.”
Back in May 2010, EA themselves confirmed that the game was the company’s most expensive project ever.
“It is the largest R&D project EA has ever undertaken in terms of total dollars that we expect to spend bringing the title to market,” said chief financial officer Eric Brown.
A few months after that, a disgruntled employee writing under the alias “EA Louse” went public with a disparaging rant about working for the publisher.
“They’ve spent more money making the Old Republic than James Cameron spent on Avatar. More than $300 million! Can you believe that? They are most proud of the sound. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That’s the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas, they’re panicking, and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they can’t keep pushing back launch,” he wrote.
“Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too.”
SWOTR launched in December last year, with over one million subscribers signing up in the first three days. So it’s doing a bit better than Sims Online – for the moment.