Like the Xbox 360 Blu-ray drive reported earlier today, talks about a MMOG set in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic universe are rumors at best, although both LucasArts and BioWare Austin have dangled clues in front the fans like carrots leading horses. October 21 is the date of the "big reveal" where both companies plan to unveil the phantom menace lurking behind the scenes for years.
According to Massively (story), the site believes the title to be Star Wars: The Old Republic. The site even uploaded scans of the press invitation, showing both the back and front, revealing absolutely nothing save for a very familiar background and a small tease inviting the recipient to "attend the official unveiling of the game that’s been rumored about for years." CVG also backs up the big reveal as the KOTOR MMO as well as the UK newspaper The Daily Star. EA president John Riccitiello even confirmed back in July that BioWare is indeed working on the Star Wars MMO.
BioWare’s outstanding reputation precedes them, especially when it comes to Star Wars and role-playing games. Beginning with Baldur’s Gate in 1998, the company has established itself as a first-class developer, producing classic games such as Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and more. Recently the company developed its first Nintendo DS title, a role-playing game based on the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. Other non-BioWare games using the company’s engines include Icewind Dale and the just-release RPG, the Witcher.
While gamers wait patiently on the new Star Wars MMO game, the other Star Wars-based MMORPG, Star Wars Galaxies, continues to run without much fanfare. After a lackluster kick-off, both Sony and LucasArts decided to revamp the game, changing major features and thus infuriating current subscribers. As of this writing there are four expansion packs for SWG: Jump to Lightspeed, Rage of the Wookies, Trials of Obi-Wan and Champions of the Force. However, a study conducted on one particular night revealed that just over 10,000 subscribers were playing at the time. Sony of ocurse denies that the numbers have ever gotten that low.
It’s questionable what a new Star Wars MMO will do in regards to the SOE/LucasArts venture. However, with BioWare backing the new project, it’s very likely that SWG subscribers will jump ship. Unless Sony and LucasArts devise a plan to re-energize the straggling MMORPG, both companies may see a dramatic drop once BioWare’s MMO hits the market.
Of course, the joke may be on all of us: the big reveal may be something other than a Star Wars-based game. Who knows. Maybe we’ll see a MMO based on LucasArts’ western-themed FPS, Outlaws.