Speaking during a financial earnings call, THQ CEO Brian Farrell said that the publisher is making a big investment with the upcoming Warhammer 40k MMO, but that if the game nets "anywhere near" a million subscribers, it will pay off. Farrell suggested that the company must spend "at the high-end of what it costs to build a core game" just to get the online title launched. But the return could be high, too: "Presuming that the MMO is successful," he said, "we could have a three-, five-, seven-year-long term revenue and profit driver with that very, very exciting brand."
Even if development costs continue to climb as expansion packs and additional post-release content is created, Farrell believes that spending more money on the project is a good sign. Farrell said that "if we're investing a lot over the next five to seven years of the MMO" by adding content, "that means it's doing very, very well."
Success doesn't mean you need to reach World of Warcraft numbers, either, according to Farrell. "We don't need the kind of subscriber levels that people throw around, like a million subscribers, to make a lot of money on this title. If we get anywhere near this level, we'll be making a lot of money."
The EA and Mythic-developed Warhammer Online peaked out at around 300,000 subscribers by last count, so THQ has a steep hill to climb. But Farrell is convinced the company can do it. "I love the game," he told listeners on the call. "Please come by the booth at E3. I think you'll like what you see."