At nearly six years in production, hundreds of programmers, artists, contract workers, and writers, $200 million USD spent on the newest and grandest game by Electronic Arts' BioWare, Star Wars: The Old Republic is coming up now as the most expensive game to produce of all time. The Electronics Art studio BioWare hopes that the Old Republic will be able to grab all of that cash back on not only the $60 purchase price for the game as well as the $15 a month users will be paying to stay connected to the MMORPG's online servers. Be you a Jedi or a Sith, or something in between, know this: you're now part of the most costly game ever produced.
The $200 million price point comes from Wall Street analysts quoted by the LA Times who have also said it might be between $200 and $150 million, these numbers one that supposedly "people knowledgeable with the game's budget don't dispute." Game development costs are not as openly discussed as the budgets for films, as the gaming industry has grown up very differently from the film industry which routinely relies on insurance to gain back losses for costs on movies that don't do well in theaters. And then there's the costs that continue to mount up as the game works live on the daily.
According to the numbers and, again, the LA Times, there's approximately 500,000 paying subscribers, each of them paying $15 a month, this making it realistic that the game itself costs $7.5 million a month to maintain. Royalty fees are also not included in that, the numbers for the amount EA owes Lucasfilm likely also adding up rather quickly. Regardless, Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels, which oversees the Star Wars game, notes the following:
"We're not betting the company on Star Wars. While it's a major undertaking, it's one aspect of a larger strategy to transform EA from a company that sells discs to one that derives the bulk of its revenue from digital games and services." - Gibeau
We'll see how it all works out soon, as subscribers continue to mount. Currently the biggest MMORPG game on earth is World of Warcraft from Blizzard which currently holds 10 million subscribers - that compared to 500,000 is no joke, but you never know! Soon Star Wars could have a comparable number, and even 4 million would raise EA's operating profit to a 5o% margin at $395 million a year. Get that money!
[via LA Times]