One of the few new MMOs I'm really looking forward to this year is Star Wars: the Old Republic. I was a big fan of the Knights of the Old Republic games, and (as I've said elsewhere) even if SWTOR turns out to be nothing more than "KoTOR III: Sub Fee Edition" it's still something I very much look forward too.
Citing possible development costs of up to 300 million, there have been some pretty gloomy predictions about the game's prospects of financial success. However, according to a short news blurb over at 1up, CEO of EA John Riccitiello claims it will only need 500K subs to be profitable. Now obviously, that doesn't address how long SWTOR needs to have a steady half million subs. Put differently, we don't know from the quote how long it will take the game to turn a profit at that level of subs. Further, you know for certain that the CEO of EA is going to try to paint a pretty rosy picture of the prospects of their largest ongoing investment. However, with those caveats in mind, 500K subs does not sound like an unreasonable target to me.
I don't think KOTOR is going to have an Age of Conan or Warhammer Online style post launch population implosion (i.e., only around 10% are still playing by the second month). I'll also be a bit surprised if they don't sell something in the neighborhood of two million boxes (almost certainly a million + boxes). Color me cautiously optimistic.
Update: Scott over at Broken Toys also covered the John Riccitiello interview in more detail. In the interview, Riccitiello also implies that the 300 million figure for development costs that's floating around is not remotely accurate.
Update 2: 1up incorrectly attributes the quote to CFO Eric Brown. It was actually CEO John Riccitiello according to the Gamasutra article they quoted. I guess that will teach me to check the source even on a "news" site.