Star Wars The Old Republic

December 18, 2011 by staff 

Star Wars The Old Republic, BioWare’s epic new online game Star Wars: The Old Republic debuts on Tuesday. A persistent world known as a massively multiplayer online game (MMO), the title is one of the most ambitious video games in history. One of its many lofty goals is to challenge World of Warcraft, the seven-year-old fantasy role-playing world that is the world’s biggest money-making online game with more than 10.3 million paying subscribers and around a billion dollars a year in revenue. Another is to take the Star Wars fan base and bring it into the modern age of the MMO, ensuring that George Lucas’s franchise lives on in the age of massive blockbuster games. And it is also aimed at bringing in a steady stream of revenue for Electronic Arts, elevating it and its developer BioWare into the stratosphere of the game industry, where respect and revenues go hand in hand.

If the game is a home run for EA, then the company will enjoy a cash-generating franchise for years to come, much like its EA Sports games that generate revenues every time a new sports season comes around. And it could give EA more financial might to take on its larger rival, Activision Blizzard, and fend off challengers such as Zynga in social games and smaller rivals in smartphone and tablet games. This kind of risk-taking is almost unheard of in the game industry these days.

The title is as big a bet as they come, with a long history behind it. BioWare began working on its first MMO around five years ago, opening a new satellite studio in Austin, Texas. The developer was then majority owned by Elevation Partners, which took a majority stake in two development firms, BioWare/Pandemic, for $300 million in 2005. Elevation partner John Riccitiello was then named CEO of Electronic Arts and EA announced it would acquire BioWare/Pandemic for $860 million in October 2007, with the deal closing in 2008. One of the reasons that BioWare/Pandemic had doubled in value in just two years was that then-secret online game was expected to generate a lot of revenues in the future.

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