If one eagerly anticipated massive BioWare space-based RPG being delayed until 2012 wasn’t enough, how about two? Yesterday BioWare confirmed that Mass Effect 3 would not be coming out this year, instead debuting sometime within the first quarter of 2012. The reason being that they wish to perfect the game and ensure it’s the best it can be, while at the same time avoiding heavy competition coming from the triple-A launch lineup of titles in November, notably The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Believe it or not, the same might happen with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Adding to the Mass Effect 3 push-back, this morning’s Electronic Arts investors call indicated that that they’ve also not narrowed down a release date for The Old Republic just yet. It was previously thought to release in 2010, only to pushed back to spring 2011 which obviously didn’t happen, so for sure it would come out this fall, right? Nope.

EA CEO John Riccitiello confirms that they are still on track to release Star Wars: The Old Republic within the fiscal year, but it’s a definite possibility it may be towards of the end of that range.

“The launch date, while in our fiscal year (before March, 2012), is not yet certain.”

EA CFO Eric Brown offered a more promising comment on this, saying that they’re still planning on getting the MMO out this year, but that it’s possible it could be pushed back as far as January 2012.

“While we fully anticipate launching Star Wars: The Old Republic in Q2 or Q3, the low end of our guidance range assumes the outside possibility of a January launch.”

Why another delay after all of these years? EA Games’ Frank Gibeau gives some reason to this but it really comes down to having the game ready. So many MMOs have come out in recent years only to fail a few months later, many due to launching with too many bugs and/or not enough content to keep players interested.

“We’re holding the date for two reasons — first, we don’t want to tip off the competition; second, we want more data from the beta test to guarantee a spectacular experience at launch.”

If after the hype and long wait, The Old Republic debuted to mixed or worse, poor reception, it would be an epic costly fail and BioWare cannot let that happen, as they need 500,000 subscribers to remain profitable. Their goal is to build a game that will last a decade.

There’s already plenty of interest in the game, in no small part due to the Star Wars brand and love of the Knights of the Old Republic games before it. In fact, The Old Republic has already earned itself well over 1.5 million beta subscribers and they do not want to let them get away.

Star Wars: The Old Republic will release exclusively on the PC, possibly this year, possibly next.

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