With Star Wars: The Old Republic set to continue the storylines from the overwhelmingly popular Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic timeline, and with two million people signed up for the beta, the title’s financial future seems all but guaranteed. EA Labels president Frank Gibeau however, would like to remind us all that a lot can go wrong with an MMO launch, and when you’re looking to create a shared experience lasting for the next ten years it’s best to be sure that everything is perfect.
The short story is that Electronic Arts wants to avoid the technological glitches that hampered the launches of many other MMOs, including that of World of Warcraft, and with WoW still ruling the MMO market (and with plenty of other competition) they want to ensure people will trade their trolls for twi’leks as early as November, when retail sources say Star Wars: The Old Republic could launch.
“We’re driving towards a date, but… [we] …want to make sure that these services can last a decade… It is definitely tied to the beta test feedback that’s ongoing and so far, so good. We feel good about the date that we’re heading towards but you’re right, you could have a Crazy Ivan show up in the September/October beta test and be like, ‘wow, I’ve got to fix that’.”
“The other thing is, the technology of standing these things up and then getting all the server farms to work together, talk to one another, store character records… it’s extraordinarily complex and so we want a very stable experience.”
“We don’t want to happen to us what happened to WoW and a couple of other services where in the first week there were queues trying to get on to the servers, the entire service crashed – we don’t want that to happen. So we need to nail and make sure that it’s up 24/7 and [that] it’s high quality.”
This is a similar message of patience breeding quality to the story about The Old Republic’s potential delay we heard a few months ago, and you can see in EA’s marketing and distribution decisions – limiting initial numbers of TOR on launch, for instance – that we are heading towards something massive, and they are in no hurry to get there. After all, they have BioWare, one of the most well-regarded RPG makers in the business, handling one of the most beloved IPs ever known in LucasArts‘ Star Wars universe.
In light of Gibeau’s comments, and with November already hosting the launches of Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, none of us should be surprised to see TOR‘s launch pushed back to ensure the strongest possible first steps after the game goes gold. Overall, that’s probably good news for gamers.
Are you one of the two million beta testers playing TOR? Will your feedback hasten or slow the game’s release? Let us know with a comment.