Today was the EA Q1 2012 Earnings Conference Call and we were interested in one thing- what they had to say about SWTOR. With this game being the pinnacle of the company at this time, you can guarantee they had a few things to say about it on the call.
Here is an overview of the highlights of the call:
John Riccitiello says that there were strong preorders for The Old Republic. He goes on to say, “Origin will scale quickly with Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic later this year.”
Frank Gibeau says, “SWTOR targeted to launch in Holiday 2011, is able to ship with a variety of launch dates.” He adds to expect higher revenue from subscriptions for The Old Republic.
John Riccitiello says, “We will launch SWTOR and battle to take a slice of the MMO market.”
The conference calls move into the question and answer portion:
Question on capacity management in SWTOR?
Frank Gibeau: We’re in good shape to do that, we have the ability to scale for multiple millions of users. We’re looking at stuff coming in as far as marketing and pre-order promotion. We have a lot of capacity to do that.
What do you view the size of the MMO market? Is this something we can look for after the fact in terms of modeling and how preorders have gone?
Frank Gibeau: On the next call we’ll be briefing you in detail on how that has gone. As far as the first, it’s a big opportunity for us in both the west and europe. It’s a category that hasn’t seen a lot of releases that has a lot of potential demand. Response on preorders indicated demand.
John Riccitiello: Our internal judgement shows in the double digit millions of subscribers. In order how to frame the business model, these are complex, you need information on lifetime of the users, churn rates, ect. We have framed this in prior discussions, half a million subs it breaks even, at a million it will make money but doesn’t feel good on investment, anything north of a million starts to look like a great investment and makes our value judgement in the investment in the property through BioWare a very good one. We gave that same framework previously. Interested to see our games distributed anywhere and everywhere we are.
You said record preorders, could you elaborate on that? Also curious on the beta testers?
Frank Gibeau: Sure, not going to give actual numbers. They are ahead of expecations, largest number that we have done with EA, larger than Battlefield 3. We have about a thousand people in the beta right now, improving the quality on every release. Purchase intent through third-party research is some of the highest they’ve ever seen. In the summer we’re ramping up our beta campaign and through September, then we’ll be in a position to give our hard ship date.
John Riccitiello: Seeing good revenue flow through from Origin. Origin is being heavily adopted, seeing similar numbers to Steam. Our hope was to get through preorders for SWTOR without falling over and the team nailed the technology we needed for it.
Regarding the Star Wars launch date, some idea of range of impacts depending on the launch date of the game, will there be any contribution later?
John Riccitiello: Focus is strongly on Q3 but maintained the guidance range. We have high expectations for the potential for the product, we want to be able to, if there’s an issue to change the ship date. We’re focused on driving hard towards Q3, until something is certain we’re not announcing it. 4-8 weeks before launch is typical for a hard ship date.
That’s pretty much everything interesting said about SWTOR for the duration of the call. Good news for fans and investors- it sounds like things are still on track for a holiday launch.