Casual gamers are to blame for a significant fall in Star Wars: The Old Republic subscriptions, according to EA.

Subscribers to the BioWare-developed MMO dropped from 1.7 million in February to 1.3 million last month.

EA Games label boss Frank Gibeau told investors last night that the 400,000 drop was due to casual gamers, perhaps enticed in by the Star Wars brand, neglecting to subscribe after the game passed through a billing cycle.

Those left were core MMO users, resulting in a solid user base, he argued.

"So the percentage of paying subscribers from our peak until now has actually gone up, and the folks that we have are as engaged as they were when they first bought the product."

"Make no mistake, BioWare intends to grow subscribers," he added.

EA boss John Riccitiello agreed, and claimed The Old Republic’s numbers were “very much in line with our original assumptions".

"So it's a business contributor, [and] while important, is not as important as Medal of Honor or Battlefield or FIFA or Madden or The Sims or SimCity, but it's more important than Tiger Woods PGA Golf," he said.

"So while I understand there's an enormous amount of interest, I don't know that it warrants as much as what we're seeing right now. But we love the franchise, we're going to grow the franchise and just like we want to see Tiger Woods Golf grow or SSX grow, or Madden for that matter, we're going to drive this one for growth."

Neither man was worried about competition from upcoming MMO Guild Wars 2 or impending World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria.

"We are cognizant of competitors coming, but none of them quite fit in the same competitive category as Star Wars," said Gibeau.

"They're just different fantasies. They're not the Star Wars fantasy. And as you know with MMOs, every day you're in operation to get better and better and better. You continually perfect the experience. You continually improve the acquisition component.

"And so building from a base that we're at right now, we feel very confident that this business is going to continue to stay competitive throughout the remainder of the year."

Planned expansion content which focused on “elder” gameplay as well as a continuation of BioWare’s free-to-play weekends and buddy key promotions were some of the ways the company hoped to keep current subscribers engaged while attracting new ones.