BioWare announced the not one, not two, but three retail editions of Star Wars: The Old Republic today, to tickle your fancy. They range from $60 to a whopping $150, but the middle tier digital version is an Origin exclusive. So what fan service can you expect for your money?
The Standard Edition includes the game and 30 days of online for $59.99. For $79.99, the Digital Deluxe Edition throws in five virtual items: the Flare Gun, Training Droid, personal HoloDancer, HoloCam, and STAP vehicle. Big spenders can get the Collector's Edition for $149.99, which includes a Darth Malgus statue from Gentle Giant, a journal of Jedi Master Gnost Dural from Chronicle Books, a soundtrack CD, security key and a map of the galaxy. You'll also get all the virtual items from the digital copy, plus access to the Collector's Store, an in-game store exclusive to CE owners.
On top of the bonus content, pre-ordering the game from Origin grants a redemption code to unlock early access to the game, along with an in-game color stone for your weapon. The company is also opening up "beta test weekends" starting in September, offering limited time, closed beta access.
"We are targeting Star Wars: The Old Republic to be one of the biggest launches of holiday 2011," said BioWare's Dr. Ray Muzyka in the announcement. "Our teams at BioWare and EA, along with our partners at LucasArts, are laser-focused on creating a high quality game, but just as importantly, they are resolute in delivering a high quality service. We are taking all of the necessary steps to make sure The Old Republic has a thriving community built on a stable online foundation from day one, including limiting supply at launch to ensure that players easily transition into the servers. So whether you're waiting to join the Empire or the Republic, pre-order now to ensure you can enter the galaxy at launch!"
What's otherwise a fairly standard PR line seems a little less so when you reach the point that Muzyka references intentionally holding back supply. Network stability is important, and MMOs have a history of launch troubles, but that's also the point of beta tests. It's hard not to think of this at least partially as a sales tactic, and the fan base might not take kindly to artificial scarcity.