Star Wars threatens World of Warcraft

Activision chief Bobby Kotick is downplaying concerns that Electronic Arts (EA) could steal World of Warcraft market share with its upcoming Star Wars multiplayer game which is due to hit stores on December 20.

Kotick, who is known for his outspoken opinions and controversial remarks, also questioned whether EA would even make any money off the game as it has to pay Lucas Arts big bucks for licensing rights.

“Lucas is going to be the principal beneficiary of the success of Star Wars,” Kotick claimed in a statement quoted by Reuters

“We’ve been in business with Lucas for a long time and the economics will always accrue to the benefit of Lucas, so I don’t really understand how the economics work for Electronic Arts.”

According to Kotick, it is difficult for gaming studios to successfully field a multiplayer title that appeals to the masses like WoW.

“If you look at the history of the people investing in an MMO and achieving success, it’s a small number,” Kotick claimed.

But Lazard analyst Atul Bagga believes Star Wars: The Old Republic, which EA has apparently spent $100 million to develop, is likely to attract 1.5 million to 2 million subscribers.

More importantly, 3-4 million “World of Warcraft” players may buy the game – which could spell trouble for Kotick’s Activision, as the company recently lost 800,000 Warcraft subscribers.

Then again, Activision’s Skylanders has outperformed expectations and will likely sell out in the United States this holiday season.

“(Skylanders) are in high demand. Retailers across the board are concerned that they will be out of inventory well before Christmas… There’s nothing we can do because they are made offshore and we can’t get product made that quickly,” added Kotick.