I can see the Bigpoint CEO's position. The development costs of TOR are so high that the game has to literally fly off the shelves at an alarming rate. In order to be popular enough to make the dev costs worth it, it has to beat WoW. Then again, maybe not. If they offer free to play main story, with optional pay to play extras, then we could see initial sales making up the bulk of costs, as those RPG fans who refuse to pay a sub lose their main argument. Then there are the options of lifetime subs for pre-purchase. Microtransactions, and a number of things I personally dislike would be other ways to get additional revenue. Heck they could even go so far as one character per license. Each additional character requires another purchase. Expansion packs released regularly that give some new feature, race, story or whatever is how WoW keeps bringing in new players and old players. And of course something that SW:Galaxies didn't do... ADVERTISE THE GAME!
And I'm pretty sick of people saying "X MMO is a WoW clone" because it has Y feature. If that's the case we could say that WoW is an Everquest clone. WoW used features from many existing MMO's and just refined them into an enjoyable game. I can't think of a single feature that WoW has that was not done in an MMO before it.
I wouldn't be so sure Majik, remember, special effects take a few guys in an office somewhere and a Mac. Episode 3 is a couple of hours long, in the Old Republic there are 200+ hours story driven gameplay per class, thats a lot of voice acting, animation, cutscenes, world building item creation dialog writing etc...
Okay, I have to say, I stopped reading a few posts into page 2. So if there was something there that wasn't bickering, I apologize for not reading it.
Here is the long and short of it:
The 100-300 million 'budget' is poor wording on that CEOs part. The 'budget' as he is referring to it, is the cost to develop thus far, not a standard budget as we would commonly refer to it as an annual cost to maintain.
Supposedly, this number is LOW. Yes, you heard me, low. EA has supposedly already surpassed the half billion mark for financials on this project.
Though EA denies this, claiming it is significantly lower than 300 million:
But the truth is, a FTP game cannot even remotely make an attempt to make that kind of money back, whereas a monthly subscription can. EA states it is aiming at half a million subscribers to be profitable. Now, that is a fairly large chunk of the industry, nearly five percent of WoW's take. I think it is an honest and easily reachable goal however.
So, how does that calculate out?
500,000 Sub X $80 (Using Digital DL Limited Edition price as it's the median) = $40,000,000 at launch
500,000 sub X $15 (Standard monthly rate) = $7,500,000 per month after launch
That means that post launch, they need to maintain 500,000 subscribers for at least 56 months, or 4 year 8 months to recoup their expenses. Is this a stretch? Yeah, but to be quite honest, sitting at nearly 470,000 preorders, and that number climbing from 20,000 to 30,000 weekly, probably not.
However, stereotypically a game with half a million preorders sells at least three times that many copies. If that were the case here as well, those numbers become significantly more realistic.
At 1.5 million subs: $120 million at launch, 22.5 million per month and full recoup in 16 months.
As you can see, the release of an MMO really does determine it's profitability. So I can see why Bioware and EA have been so cautious about the release and ensuring it is ready.
Disclaimer: Math does not account for server upkeep and minimum staffing requirements, nor future development costs or other random expenses like office rental/upkeep etc.