And this is where the “sort of” comes in. The MMO genre is a delicate snowflake in the game industry — one that often sees delays due to the development cycle required to put out a polished gaming experience with enough content to warrant paying a subscription fee after the free month.
MCV UK is reporting that, based on “development sources,” Star Wars: The Old Republic has been pushed back to September of this year. That unfortunately puts it outside of the fiscal 2011 year for Electronic Arts, which they originally hoped to target for the game’s release.
The game has been in development for at least two years, though there were rumors dating back to nearly three years ago. It’s also one of the most expensive games to ever be developed, if not the most expensive, with more than 300 million supposedly sunk into it so far. In November LucasArts backed off and gave full publishing rights to Electronic Arts, as well.
So this has been a fairly costly endeavor for the publisher, with a lot of risk factor due to the Star Wars license. While delays often mean additional development time, they don’t always guarantee that time is being spent bolstering the game’s content. In many cases, it’s usually delays to fix glaring issues with gameplay mechanics or show-stopping bugs. But that’s a good reason to delay, too — so long as the delays translate to a polished launch.
Still, I had fun with my last play session of the game, and while it’s gotten some flack from other press, it really is something “different” for a genre riddled with generic fantasy titles. Let’s hope this release date is more concrete than previous hints, otherwise we may see The Old Republic fall into the 2012 calendar year. Perhaps we’ll hear more on this during EA’s upcoming earnings call.