The massively multiplayer online role playing market is a hard one to conquer right now. World of Warcraft has maintained its dominance in the genre for a number of years, and while a few competitors have popped up here and there, most recently the surprisingly successful DC Universe Online, they have never really been able threaten WoW's position as number one.
BioWare and Electronic Arts have been hard at work developing their own MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Based on a lot of the coverage offered so far, the game looks like it may really come into its own. Will it overtake World of Warcraft, though? Mike Hickey of Janco Partners offers his analysis.
"We believe many investors are betting against SWTOR achieving market success, provided the company's and industry's track record at releasing successful new MMOs."
"[Other factors include] a suspected subscription pricing model versus a market that is quickly transitioning to free to play, generally modest previews of the game and elevated development expense and suspected aggressive royalty to LucasArts."
Electronic Arts can't be particularly pleased to read that analysis, especially after they predicted a ten-year lifespan for the game.
Any number of problems could potentially contribute to a lack of acceptance for The Old Republic, just as any number of innovations may drive its success. In the end, the game's fortunes most likely rely on having a community established from the get-go, and building upon it. Bioware has to be on top of pleasing their fans and maintaining The Old Republic in a manner that will not encourage users to abandon the title and go back to playing WoW.
Predictions aside, The Old Republic has its share of benefits, including the pedigree of its developer and the popularity of its license. Gameplay aspects like the companion system, space combat, and the option of playing as a Sith Lord all contribute to The Old Republic's chances of appealing to gamers.
Ranters, what do you think of Hickey's take on the situation? Is The Old Republic a game that you're looking forward to?
Star Wars: The Old Republic has no official release date, but will arrive in 2011 for the PC.