Source: Little-known game-news site Primotechnology.com.
What we heard: In March 2006, veteran Canadian developer BioWare announced it was opening a satellite studio in Austin, Texas to prep a mysterious massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Within minutes of the announcement, rumors were already flying that the top-secret project was the third installment in the award-winning Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series.
Such speculation was fueled further by the fact that lead designer James Ohlen performed the same duties on the original KOTOR, and several senior members of the studio worked on the Star Wars MMORPG Star Wars: Galaxies. Also, right around the time of the BioWare announcement, Star Wars license holder LucasArts confirmed that it was approached by developers about an all-new Star Wars MMORPG, but declined to elaborate.
However, rumors of a KOTOR MMORPG petered out, thanks to BioWare's successful attempts to keep virtually every detail about the game under wraps. However, now the rumors are back thanks to Primotechnology's claims, which are the first to directly cite a source with knowledge of BioWare Austin's inner workings.
"A source close to BioWare confirmed to us today that the studio's upcoming untitled massively-multiplayer online RPG will be centered around the Star Wars universe, specifically that of Knights of the Old Republic, which the developer released in 2003," read the report. Primotechnology went on to point out that the popularity of Star Wars: Galaxies--which was released in 2003 and drastically revised in 2005--is waning. "It's estimated that the game now has fewer than 100,000 subscribers and less than 20,000 active players," said the site without sourcing the numbers.
The official story: In a recent interview, BioWare co-CEOs Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk steadfastly refused to comment on their MMORPG's subject matter (although they did say it was already in playable form). LucasArts followed suit. "LucasArts doesn't comment on rumors or speculation," said the PR rep tasked with handling the publisher's MMORPG efforts.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that anything's been officially confirmed. And with only Primotechnology's word to go on, there's not enough for a concrete call either way. One thing is for certain, though: A KOTOR MMORPG would be huge. Besides being the stuff of nerd fantasies, the game would have a good chance of stealing away weary World of Warcraft players by offering both a sci-fi MMORPG alternative and BioWare's impeccable pedigree.
It's also worth noting that when Electronic Arts bought BioWare/Pandemic for $860 million earlier this month, it cited the BioWare MMORPG as one of the three main motivators for the deal. Ironically, such an arrangement could see EA developing a game for sometime-rival LucasArts--which it dwarfs in size--to publish.