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 Star Wars: The Old Republic  Is EA's Biggest Spend In History
Star Wars: The Old Republic Is EA's Biggest Spend In History Exclusive
May 26, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

May 26, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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    17 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Electronic Arts is spending more money on the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO than it's ever spent on any game in its history.

"It is the largest R&D project EA has ever undertaken in terms of total dollars that we expect to spend bringing the title to market," said chief financial officer Eric Brown at Janney Capital Markets' 2010 Consumer Conference, as listened in on by Gamasutra.

And an investment of that kind means a project that will take time -- the BioWare-developed Star Wars MMO won't see release before March 2011: "We're not expecting it to ship in fiscal 2010, nor have we given a specific ship date thereafter," said Brown. "We're intentionally being nonspecific on the ship date."

But EA feels it can spare no expense because of all the factors favoring The Old Republic's success. "In the past, for MMOs, the type of fiction that has resonated most broadly is fiction based on swords and knights and sorcery, et cetera," Brown explained.

"Star Wars is analogous to that -- instead of the swords, you have the lightsabers; instead of the knights you have the Jedi -- we think it's a fiction that does very well, we think it's a fiction that spans the decades," Brown added, pointing out that most if not all of the conference's attendees were likely to be familiar with the property. "We think it has very broad appeal," he said.

And EA believes the project couldn't be in any better hands: "BioWare is one of the highest-rated studios in terms of quality overall," Brown says, adding that Mass Effect 2, with a Metacritic score of 96 and among the third-highest overall on the aggregator, "is the highest-quality title EA ever released."

With a strong property, an enormous investment and the right studio, EA thinks it's found the project that should take top billing in its MMO strategy -- "our principal investment and commitment vis a vis the MMO space," says Brown.

As for Warhammer, it has "a couple hundred thousand subscribers to date," according to Brown. "But the Star Wars MMO does indeed represent our primary emphasis vis a vis this category."


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Comments


Chris Herborth
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I'm hoping they'll want to capitalize on this investment, and address the largest-possible computer gaming audience by providing both a Windows client and a Mac client at release, like World of Warcraft.



The Transgaming Cider-based clients for City of Heroes and Warhammer are just as good as the "real" thing on Windows, at least in my experience.

Brett Williams
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EA and Bioware have a relationship with Transgaming. EA uses them for all of their Mac conversions almost exclusively. Sims 3, WAR, Dragon Age, to name a few recent titles.



I wouldn't doubt that they will release Mac client, whether they will get in at launch time I don't know.

Groove Stomp
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The largest possible computer gaming audience would also include all of us Linux users.

Alan Rimkeit
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This game is going to OWN. I am so down to play some Old Republic MMO. They just added Hoth which totally kicks ass! I want more classes though and they HAVE to add non-human races too. It is just not Star Wars if all the PC's are human. A Zabrack Bounty Hunter would be awesome!



I am also glad that EA got involved in this as Bioware could never had enough cash to build this huge of a game. The skills yes, cash no.

John Mawhorter
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I don't think it will displace WoW, so I doubt it will make all that money back, but who knows. Star Wars is a good property...

John Mawhorter
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I don't think it will displace WoW, so I doubt it will make all that money back, but who knows. Star Wars is a good property...

Andre Gagne
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Imagine the irony if they don't do enough user testing to find that 70% of the content just doesn't work? :P



Seems like a very different perspective from Zynga on MMO creation IMHO, though on the other hand the amount of existing content you need at launch for a full 3-d MMO these days is ridiculous considering the competition, EVE online, WoW, Conan Online, etc.



Seems like they're trying to forgo the criticism that Star Trek Online had when it first started.

Chuan Lim
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Be interesting how they approach the Luke Paradox -> Eg. 90% of people wanting to be a Jedi as in Star Wars Galaxies. Sounds like they think they can take on WoW though Bioware stuff always seems to be a slower burn and has different pacing and feel.



-- Chuan

Benjamin Marchand
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Bioware is a synonym of quality, so this one will maybe rise up above the rest.

But more generally about futuristic worlds in videogames :



"In the past, for MMOs, the type of fiction that has resonated most broadly is fiction based on swords and knights and sorcery, et cetera," Brown explained.



What gamedesigners fail to understand is that it's not the Heroic Fantasy genre which is prefered by gamers. It's the futuristic genre that was never really properly represented in a MMO.

All the futuristic MMO franchises I know are using the same formula again and again, with pew pew lasers and kiddy design.



I don't understand ... Star Wars again ... Futurism is the genre which offers the most freedom in term of creativity, deepness and actual society resonance, but no MMO game studio seems to be tempted to unleash it.

Even Blizzard said they were surprised that no one was trying to use an original futuristic genre.



It's always about Star Wars, Star Trek, etc ... Like if creativity was dead.



Why don't MMORPG devs just consult futuristic novel writers, if they are so clueless with original futuristic ambiences ?



I mean we have the chance to live in the same era as the cyberpunk Godfather, sir William Gibson ... Why not consulting him, gamedesigners ?

Mark Harris
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Well, Star Wars is a huge IP with a massive following... so that's why. If you have the chance to put together a solid Star Wars MMO then you already have millions of people with IP knowledge. Now you just have to hook them with the story/conflict, gameplay, and content. You don't have to sell the setting, it's already been sold a billion times.



I'm all for original settings, be they fantastic or futuristic, but from a business perspective going with not only the highly visible and very popular Star Wars franchise, but also the well respected KOTOR timeline/pedigree is way more attractive then building a brand new IP.

Michael Mucci
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@Chaun - I wouldn’t’ be too worried about 90% of the population *staying* Jedi as they progress through the game. Granted it’s absolutely awesome to be a Jedi, but when you can easily be kited by a bounty hunter, smuggler, etc. the competitive nature of gaming will surpass the glam of force wielding. Bioware seems to be pretty clamped down on class balance.



While fighting an epic huge boss with “x” amount of other people is fun, the simple idea of the individual player fighting the masses is, in my opinion, more appealing and heroic.

R G
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I only ask for the opportunity to exact my vengeance on the Gungans.

Leo Gura
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The biggest liability KOTOR Online has is it's heavy story focus. It's a big gamble. To be successful, MMO's need dynamic, replayable content, not a bunch of storylines. No matter how many storylines Bioware develops, experience shows that players will grind them very fast and end up with nothing left to do. I hope EA and Bio are addressing this issue, otherwise this will end in epic failure.



If this is Mass Effect in MMO form with a StarWars coating, it won't work. Hopefully it's not.

Alan Rimkeit
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@Benjamin Marchand - "I mean we have the chance to live in the same era as the cyberpunk Godfather, sir William Gibson ... Why not consulting him, gamedesigners ?"



That is one of the best ideas I have read on this site ever.

Mark Harris
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Leo, great point. The story part may be fun but it is limited in scope. Let's hope their end game has enough appeal in the Empire/Resistance battle to keep players engaged for a long time. Perhaps factional control of geographical regions/planets/star systems that bring tangible reward as well as bragging rights? Dunno yet but they will need something compelling to keep anyone who is not a hyper Star Wars fan playing over the long haul.



Along those lines it's been interesting to read about what ArenaNet has in store for Guild Wars 2. Their dynamic event system is intriguing.

sean lindskog
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@Leo



Totally agreed. Trying to keep up with MMO player's thirst for new story-driven content is a losing battle. So the long term success of the game will require some kind of "systematic" (rather than story-driven) content.



That being said, they're spending an awful lot of money on this game. So if they do make the "mistake" of only creating high-developer-cost story-driven content, maybe there will still be enough of it for the game to hold on to the majority of it's players long enough to make some money.



Ideally there will be a combination of the two. There have been some successful MMOs which did this in the past.

Caleb Garner
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make sure everyone can be a jedi!


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