Will the force be with BioWare when Star Wars The Old Republic officially launches tomorrow? The company's going to need all the help it can get, as it readies to square off, all in, with MMO juggernaut Activision Blizzard.
The Old Republic went live last week for gamers who preordered, so it's technically already live, and if you follow the live-stream phenomenon, you may even have caught someone (legally) playing it.
You've probably heard World of Warcraft's user numbers are finally declining: Activision Blizzard admits it lost 800,000 subscribers in the last quarter, a drop from 11.1 million to 10.3 million subs worldwide. The game's lost about two million subscribers total over the past 12 months—with the Star Wars license in its pocket and an estimated record $135 million (and counting) spent on developing this thing, the timing's perfect.
Well, almost. It's still a bit of a mystery why BioWare parent Electronic Arts opted to roll the game out this late in the year, weeks after all the other big name games hit physical (and digital) shelves. I suggested it had to do with cashing in on the high-def release of the Star Wars films, out in September and no doubt a holiday gift favorite, but who really knows. Perhaps EA told Bioware enough was enough (BioWare was floating stories in September that the game could be delayed into 2012).
Sidebar: It looks like the game's already been infiltrated by gold farmers—players who sell in-game currency for real-world dollars. The service, dubbed SWTOR Credits, is live via longtime transactor IGXE.
Just a reminder, for anyone on the fence: It'll cost $60 for the base game ($10 higher than normal, and more than World of Warcraft or any of its expansions ever cost) and a whopping $150 for the collectors edition. For those prices, you get 30 days of play time, after which you can spend $14.99 a month, $41.97 for three months, or $77.94 for six months.