ActiBlizz CEO ‘doesn’t understand how SWTOR economics work for EA’

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has his doubts on what exactly rival EA is getting out of its soon to launch Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. LucasArts’ license fees apparently put the property holder in an enviable position.

“Lucas is going to be the principal beneficiary of the success of Star Wars,” Kotick said. “We’ve been in business with Lucas for a long time and the economics will always accrue to the benefit of Lucas, so I don’t really understand how the economics work for Electronic Arts.”

It wouldn’t take much for SWTOR to turn a profit though. At least, that’s according to EA CEO John Riccitiello who’s said that at 500,000 subscribers, the BioWare game would be “a business that makes good money on an on-going basis.” Anything above a million and it’ll start to look like “a great investment.”

If true, the game may be swimming in green in no time, as analysts expect it to attract millions of subscribers in its first year. Not only that, a recent survey suggests that half of World of Warcraft players are planning on picking up The Old Republic. Not what ActiBlizz wants to hear after the dip in WoW subs, we’re sure.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter doesn’t see obstacles in EA’s way either, telling EG that LucasArts’ cut is likely in the 35% range.

“I think [EA] will make a profit,” Pachter said. “The revenue split is around 35 per cent to LucasArts after EA earns back their investment. That means EA keeps most of the revenue from disc sales (they have marketing expenses and need to staff up the server farms), so they should earn a nice profit there.

“Keep in mind that EA expensed the development cost when incurred, so much of the disc sales revenue will be profit.”

SWTOR is out on December 22 in both the US and EU. There’ll be early access, too. More on that here.