We've known for a while that EA/Bioware's upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic would be expansive to produce. Via Joystiq is a comment from EA of exactly how staggeringly expensive the project is:
"a little over 1 million subscribers is needed to reach the break-even point"
That's right, this game could be the second most popular in the history of the genre and still LOSE MONEY for its publisher.
It's hard to tell exactly what they're projecting to arrive at this estimate - EA does not get 100% of the $50 box sale, and some portion of the subscription fee (which may or may not be higher than $15) goes to upkeep of the game. We also don't know how long they're figuring the average subscriber will stick around, or how much they expect the average consumer to spend in any hypothetical item shop.
Even so, this sounds frighteningly like what CATS would call the path to destruction. The current sales figures say that Bioware's Dragon Age has sold roughly 2.25 million copies on PS3 and XBox 360, with some additional number on the PC. That game is regarded as a pretty big success. In order for SWTOR to turn a profit, they need it to equal those numbers WITH an added fee attached.
If you're worried about whether the bar for making a new MMORPG has gotten too high, this is not reassuring.