EA sells 2 million units of "Star Wars", shares up

Wed Feb 1, 2012 7:47pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Electronic Arts' told investors on Wednesday that its highly anticipated "Star Wars" game was off to a strong start and dismissed reports that players were leaving the new Internet game in droves, and its shares rose 6 percent after the market closed.

EA has poured more money and firepower into "Star Wars: The Old Republic" than it has any game in its 30-year history. Wall Street is closely watching to see if the game can succeed, since it could bring EA riches for years to come. If it fails, EA's earnings will be hurt in future quarters.

The company said it sold 2 million units of "Star Wars: The Old Republic" to date. It has signed up 1.7 million active subscribers so far, the company said on Wednesday.

Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels, told analysts on the conference call on Wednesday that the majority of subscribers are paying users.

Since everyone who buys the $60 game receives 30 days of free playing time, this means that players are opting to pay for the service, which could help build a large and loyal user base.

EA executives fought back against reports that large numbers of users are leaving the massive multiplayer online game.

When the game came out December 20, players had to wait a long time to connect to the servers. But then the wait times suddenly dropped, which prompted some analysts to lower their price targets on EA shares because they worried that players had quit the game.

Chief Financial Officer Eric Brown told Reuters in an interview that the company's technology had improved since the game's launch and EA was now able to host more players without the wait times.   Continued...

<p>A visitor films in front of the 'Star Wars-Old Republic'' exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2011 fair in Cologne August 17, 2011. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender</p>