In recent news, it has been reported that the ongoing development of the highly popular MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, will be transitioning from BioWare to the third-party studio Broadsword Online Games. The decision follows BioWare’s intent to refocus its resources on single-player RPGs, including forthcoming titles like Dragon Age 4 and Mass Effect 5.
Star Wars: The Old Republic was initially launched in December of 2011 as a subscription game, receiving a 9/10 rating from IGN in its review at the time. However, it was converted to a free-to-play model within the first year following a significant drop-off in subscriptions. Despite this change, the game has continued to enjoy steady success, with numerous expansions and regular updates over the last decade. As of 2019, it had achieved nearly $1 billion in lifetime revenue.
The game remains one of the top MMORPGs today, keeping an extensive fanbase that supports ongoing updates even a decade after its launch. This is notable given that it has outlived its era of Star Wars. After Disney revamped the non-movie Star Wars canon in 2014, The Old Republic was among the material that was excised. However, it continues to be the only source of new storytelling in the old continuity.
The shift in development leadership is expected to see over half of the current development team (estimated to be around 70 to 80 people) on The Old Republic move to Broadsword, while the remaining team members will have the opportunity to seek other roles within EA or face layoffs. Broadsword Online Games is a boutique studio specializing in delivering online, community-driven experiences, and it currently handles other legacy MMOs like Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Broadsword is run by Rob Denton, a BioWare veteran who previously worked on The Old Republic.
EA has expressed that they are proud of the work the team has done and believes that the future of the game and the community continues to be very bright. The transition is seen as an opportunity to give the game and the team the best chance to grow and evolve. Despite the change, The Old Republic will continue to see planned content updates, such as the upcoming patch 7.3 and the next PvP season, with more expected down the line. EA will remain as the game’s publisher.
This move allows BioWare to double down on the single-player content that built its fanbase. Following the disappointing response to projects like Anthem, BioWare has repeatedly assured fans that the next Dragon Age is a fully single-player game, and has done the same for Mass Effect.
This transition has been called a “new beginning” for Star Wars: The Old Republic, not the end for the MMO. The Old Republic’s creative director, Charles Boyd, left the company last year after 16 years of service. However, Lucasfilm acknowledges The Old Republic as a popular period within the Star Wars universe, hinting at its potential continued significance in the franchise.
Please note that the situation is still developing, and further information on this transition will be reported as it becomes available.