EA plays down Old Republic subs drop

Electronic Arts has played down the significance of the loss of almost a quarter of active users of its Star Wars MMOG The Old Republic, insisting the game is performing in line with expectations.

Speaking during an investor call following the release of EA's latest financial results, CEO John Riccitiello said he felt too much analyst and media attention had been focused on the fortunes of BioWare's long-awaited MMOG, which has seen subscriber numbers fall from 1.7 million in February to 1.3 million at the end of last month – a drop of 24 per cent.

"Its performance right now is in line with original assumptions," Riccitiello said. "In terms of profitability it's in our top ten, but not our top five. It's not as important as FIFA, Madden or The Sims, but it's more important than Tiger Woods PGA Tour. I'm not sure it warrants the focus we're seeing on it right now."

Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels, said those that had been lost were casual players, and that The Old Republic had "good retention among core MMOG users. BioWare intends to grow subscribers – we've released two major content upgrades, with many more planned."

EA brought in more than $1.2 billion dollars in revenue from digital sales during the financial year, a 46 per cent increase that comfortably set a new record for the publisher's digital business. The Old Republic remains central to the company's plans going in to what Riccitiello said would be a "historic year" which would see EA become "the global leader in digital, the same way we led packaged software in the PS2 era."