Shacknews attempted to verify the news directly by contacting the gamut of companies that would be involved in such a project, including studio owner Electronic Arts, Star Wars license holder LucasArts, Star Wars Galaxies publisher Sony Online Entertainment, and of course, BioWare itself. Those that responded were, unsurprisingly, non-committal. When asked about the rumored title, a LucasArts representative could neither confirm or deny the claims.
Today's report comes on the heels of Electronic Arts' purchase of BioWare and sister studio Pandemic, for which the publisher paid an exorbitant combined sum of $860 million. "In fiscal 2009 and 2010, we expect the BioWare and Pandemic properties to deliver revenue in excess of $300 million annually," said EA CFO Warren Jensen at the time. The potential earnings of an MMO from a well regarded developer, based on as lucrative a license as Star Wars, would lend credence to such a figure.
A Star Wars setting has been long-rumored for BioWare's debut MMO title, with rumors picking up steam in recent weeks. Citi industry analyst Brent Thill recently told Gamasutra that, "based on past development work," he believes the game to be a Star Wars title. Such a project could have been a major motivator in EA's decision to spend $860 million on the acquisition of BioWare and Pandemic.
BioWare developed the LucasArts-published Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on Xbox and PC, which was released in 2003 to critical and commercial success. Set 4,000 years before the Star Wars films, the RPG took place in that "civilized age" of which old Ben Kenobi spoke so fondly in the first Star Wars film. An Obsidian-developed sequel followed, though it did not quite receive its predecessor's unanimous acclaim. Fans have been clamoring for BioWare to return to the franchise ever since.
In other science fiction BioWare RPG news, the company's original property Mass Effect was announced as having gone gold today, with a release set on November 20 in North America.