Well, what can we say? Subscriber numbers have been dwindling and now it's time for the inevitable: In an effort to keep The Old Republic still floating, it will go free-to-play sometime this fall. There will of course be in-game micro transactions and one has to pay for more advanced features and new content which have yet to be announced.
For a ridiculous spin on the story, here's a quote from Bioware General Manager Matthew Bromberg:
Players want flexibility and choice. The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe.
A barrier for people who thought the game was too uninteresting to pay $14.99 per month.
Based on an invitation they extended to EGM, LucasArts will have at least one new game to show off at E3 this year. So what will it be? The perennially greenlit-and-then-cancelled Battlefront III? The aerial combat game implied by some job listings some time ago? Might we finally begin seeing some sort of video game shaped consequences of the "We hired Clint Hocking" and "We've licensed the Unreal 3 engine" announcements from like, well over a year ago?
I dunno, but even money says whatever it is will be unworthy of my time Star Wars-related. Not that it's the only thing you have to look forward to from LEC; as we told you a few weeks back, they're planning on issuing a re-release of the first two Knights of the Old Republic games sometime this year. And thank goodness, right? God knows there aren't oodles of less readily available games from their prestigious catalog that people would care to see back in circulation over a hidden gem like KOTOR.Thanks to Threepwood4life for the heads up. Poor sap thinks people still read the forums!
JP Update: Gamezone is reporting that a 'first look' of this new Star Wars franchise will screen on GTTV on May 31, with gameplay footage to be shown on June 6th.
What game is being referred to here? I'm going to assume that middle finger means "just tell me" - it's Star Wars: Battlefront III.
Yes, the oft-cancelled sequel to the lucrative shooter franchise is back in the headlines yet again thanks to a juicy interview between GamesIndustry International and Steve Ellis, co-founder of Free Radical, that sheds a little more light on how the relationship ended, and apparently it wasn't pretty.
It turns out the game was nearly finished and the publisher-developer relationship didn't sour until the arrival of that destructive force that dooms even Star Wars projects, a management shift.
In fact, it was going so well that by the end of 2007 LucasArts asked Free Radical to work on another Battlefront game, according to Ellis. "We were still at that time probably a year out from completing and releasing the first game and they asked us to sign up for the sequel.
"That was a big deal for us because it meant putting all our eggs in one basket. It was a critical decision - do we want to bet on LucasArts? And we chose to because things were going as well as they ever had. It was a project that looked like it would probably be the most successful thing we had ever done and they were asking us to make the sequel to it too. It seemed like a no-brainer."
But at the beginning of 2008 there was a shift in focus at LucasArts, with president Jim Ward stepping down in February and the axe falling later in the year on more internal staff including Peter Hirschman.
"The really good relationship that we'd always had suddenly didn't exists anymore. They brought in new people to replace them and all of a sudden we were failing milestones. That's not to say there were no problems with the work we were doing because on a project that size inevitably there will be, there's always going to be grey areas were things can either pass or fail. And all of a sudden we were failing milestones, payments were being delayed and that kind of thing."
Ellis doesn't feel the pressure from LucasArts was justified and the company became reluctant to get involved in the high stakes marketing that a triple-A title demands.
"It was a change of direction for LucasArts as a company rather than for the games that we were working on. I think what had happened was the new management had been bought in to replace the old and given an impossible mandate. It was a financial decision basically and the only way they could achieve what they had been told to do was to can some games and get rid of a bunch of staff. So that's what they did but it was quite a long, drawn out process."
When assaulted with contemporary games that are aggressively mediocre, it is understandable that Star Wars fans would prefer to reminisce about the halcyon days when, say, the Super Star Wars trilogy for the SNES was proffering some highly decent side-scrolling translations of the classic movies.
The folks at NowGamer were struck by such nostalgia and were inspired to write a feature about these 16-bit gems, and what really makes it awesome is that they thought to pursue the games' producer and lead designer Kalani Streicher for some reflections. As a result the article contains all sorts of great background info, and Streicher even expresses the desire to return to the series some kind of way, if LEC would ever be interested. Take a look.
In any case, here's the Free Radical footage:
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See Star Wars: Episode I in 3D on the big screen; only in cinemas!
The blog post includes remembrances from some of the crew of The Clone Wars.
A peek at his filmography on IMDB reveals that you hardly have be a Clone Wars viewer to have enjoyed this man's work. Among a multitude of other roles, he played Mister Pitt, Elaine's needy millionaire boss on several episodes of Seinfeld, John Hammond's butler in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and the bearded wise man who sent Bruce Campbell to fetch the necronomicon in Army of Darkness (along with the poorly heeded instructions to speak three magic words).
A third installment in the hugely popular shooter franchise would seem a no-brainer, and indeed it was reported to have been being worked on a number of times by a number of different parties (on various occasions, rumors held that the contract was given to Free Radical, Rebellion, and even original Battlefront developer Pandemic), but the project never seemed able to gain any traction for whatever reason. I guess when a studio goes into transition as hyperactively as LEC does, it's more than the little games that suffer. Or maybe the game was just never turning out good, who knows.
Anyhow, the neverending story has entered a new chapter, or did a few weeks ago when everyone besides us reported on it. The latest developer associated with Battlefront III is Spark Unlimited, who turned in a Call of Duty installment several years back. Here's the evidence, as reported by Game Informer:
There are only two real pieces of evidence that have lead people to believe that Spark Unlimited is working on Star Wars: Battlefront 3. One, on its website Spark Unlimited lists in its job section that, "We are in production on an unannounced high-profile, popular game sequel for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC release." The other piece of evidence, is that it simply isn't flat out denying that Battlefront 3 is the title it is working on, on twitter. Every inquiry is met with a, "you'll have ask Lucas Arts about its franchises, we're just a developer, not publisher," response.
Though LucasArts did not develop the massively expensive online RPG and even relinquished publishing duties to EA/Bioware, Lucasfilm will be skimming 35% off the top after the game breaks even (a cut that Paulie from Goodfellas was quoted as calling "downright avaricious") as part of the licensing deal.
With the revenue they will derive from their rather envious "Do Absolutely Nothing But Manage To Fill The Coffers To Surfeit Anyway" business model, it goes without saying that the executives of the San Francisco based entertainment company will see fit to invest a little bit of that mailbox money in new and exciting interactive properties.
And I for one can't wait!
Games-industry favourite Bobby Kotick gives his much-wanted opinion on the financial odds and ends of The Old Republic here. His objectivity on the issue allows him to provide some searing insights. I'm just glad Reuters quoted the one man in the industry who doesn't make money off of World of Warcraft, and who has nothing to lose should The Old Republic - supposedly the most expensive game ever made - should succeed in the highly-competitive, but notoriously exclusive world of MMOs.
Bioware and LucasArts have finally announced the release date for the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. It will launch on December 20th in North America and on the 22nd in Europe. People with submitted pre-order codes will be able to play the game at an earlier date, though how much earlier is still up in the air. The game will have a monthly subscription plan with a slightly reduced fee if you pay for 3 or 6 months in advance.
The release date has not been revealed, but EA has begun taking pre-orders for the upcoming Star Wars game. Pre-ordering will net you early game access as well as a colour stone which will change the colour of your weapon or something. There's a standard edition, a digital deluxe edition, and a collector's edition. The standard edition can be bought on EA's new Origin service as well as a physical copy. Digital deluxe is only available on Origin and collector's edition only as a physical copy. Bioware has put up a page over here with a list of retailers and info on what's included in the different editions. Most stores seem to be out of the collector's edition though last I checked, German Amazon still has copies left.
Statistically speaking, LucasArts' catalog is far less deficient in Star Wars than it is in, for instance, Not Star Wars, so it can be considered a safe assumption that their decision to kill the project had to with not wanting to re-assign resources away from Handsome Halibut, currently slated for release in the Spring of two-thousand never.
Oh well, there's always Clone Wars Adventures right? Right?
No Star Wars game would be complete without a trip to Tatooine. It's where Luke grew up and by consequence where every game has to make a stop. The Old Republic is no different and Bioware released a developer walkthrough showing a Sith Sorcerer making his way through the planet ripped off from Dune.
But you keep your cynical remarks to yourselves, you buncha Negative Nancys. So what if those secret projects remain unannounced? There's no drive-thru at Commander's Palace - these things take time! And who cares if the Steam re-release effort from two years ago suffered a stroke after four graphic adventures with no progress in sight? Digital distribution of SCUMM games is a multi-billion dollar investment. And quit your whining about Indiana Jones' 30th anniversary being left thoroughly unexploited - can't you be happy that Star Wars fans are going to finally have their day after years of neglect?
Besides, the company's got bigger fish to fry here. That's right, bitches: there are Old Republic peripherals to put out!
There’s more to Razer than just being a company which produces gaming-grade products. For residents of the Old Republic, the manufacturer has donned the role of an arms supplier. Uncovering their entry into this well known galactic battle, the company recently announced the Star Wars: The Old Republic gaming keyboard, mouse, mouse pad and headset.
Developed in conjunction with BioWare and LucasArts, the hardware has been bundled together to back players with powerful weaponry. The design and architecture of these products let both the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire factions to hit the battlefield with the same ammunitions. Infused with Razer’s advanced technology, these devices are expected to unleash a new level of combat in this universe.
Boy, do you look like a fool. I hope now you'll consider the bigger picture before rushing to judgment about a company's commitment to innovation. Feel free to apologize to LEC at your earliest convenience.
E3 is again upon us and Bioware has started revealing more of their upcoming Star Wars MMO. The latest is a new cinematic, called "Return", which you can view below.
The developers have also released a new page looking at the advanced classes of the game. Advanced classes are specializations you can pick when you reach level 10 with each base class letting you choose between two specializations. Principal lead combat designer Georg Zoeller wrote a blog post back in April covering this very subject. He's also been interviewed by MMORPG.com over here.
The LucasArts president for this year, Paul Meegan, hasn't been very vocal since he took over. Then again, the whole of LucasArts has been pretty much under lockdown. Now MCV have finally got some details out of the man and... well... sigh.
LucasArts is a company with tremendous potential. I think people look at it and wonder why it hasn’t done better in recent years.
Lucasfilm has some of the most beloved and powerful brands in entertainment, we have a loyal community of fans, and talented people in every discipline. We’re surrounded by staggeringly bright and creative people at the top of their games.
In recent years, LucasArts hasn’t always done a good job of making games. We should be making games that define our medium, that are competitive with the best of our industry, but we’re not. That has to change.
Hmm, not as bad as I'd been expecting really. A few quibbling points to be raised, such as the need to cull those "bright and creative people" every couple of years, the fact that he's ignoring the want for re-releases, and that he's pretty much saying everything Jim Ward did and look where that got him. Still, not bad, don't know what the fuss is about rea-
“Our priority is to create authentic, immersive, high quality Star Wars games.”
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