Star Wars: The Old Republic cost $200 million to develop

New report recounts creation of BioWare's MMORPG; 800 staffers on four continents worked for six years to bring game to market.

BioWare's massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic shipped in December and quickly recorded 1 million users. And today, it has been revealed the game's budget was massive, too.

It's safe to say The Old Republic's budget was bigger than that of most games.

A new feature story at the Los Angeles Times recounts development on The Old Republic and reveals some nuggets of information about the space-bound MMORPG. According to the Times, The Old Republic cost $200 million to develop, well above the $80 million forecast by Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter last May.

The Times reports the game was created over the span of six years by 800 developers on four continents. BioWare cofounder Greg Zeschuk told the paper, "Coordinating it all is like teaching elephants to do ballet."

As for BioWare's relationship with Star Wars creator and license holder George Lucas and his LucasArts staff, the Times reports that Lucas gave BioWare nearly "free rein" to do as it wished with the license. However, the newspaper reports LucasArts staff stepped in to "soften" some of the more "risqué" material, including scenes involving sex slaves.

As for recouping the game's massive development cost, EA said in February that The Old Republic would become profitable with only 500,000 subscribers. And according to Pachter, the game is well on its way to blowing that number out of the water. In an investor note issued today, Pachter said The Old Republic has sold at least 2 million units since its launch in late December. Additionally, he said he expects 75 to 90 percent of initial purchasers to stay onboard as paid subscribers following the bundled 30-day free game time.

For more on The Old Republic, check out GameSpot's review of the MMORPG.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

253 comments
Gooeykat
Gooeykat

Why do they cite Pachter again in the article as a source for predictions in profitability. His original guesstimate on total cost to produce was off by over 100%, I would not cite him again as source in the same article after being so off the first time.

XLGodd
XLGodd

@DjKofee: If you live outside the US/Europe and want to play this game, there are plenty of ways. I live in Saudi Arabia, and I had no problem mail-ordering the game and subscribing, and playing daily, even through filtered Saudi internet. And I connect to a Eastern US server that is 7,500 miles away, with nary a blip. As for others complaining about the glitches, I've found them to be few and far between, and certainly not game-halting. I am enjoying this game immensely, as a die-hard KOTOR fan, and am loving the social aspects added to the great KOTOR universe. Are there some improvements needed? Certainly. But they will come with time; Bioware has a great reputation for incorporating user feedback into patches and updates, and has shown no signs of straying from that for TOR. I'm already having a blast; can't wait to see how this game will progress over the next few months/years...

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

That's about as much as it cost Cameron to make Titanic !!!

jcp234
jcp234

I will not settle for anything less than KOTOR 3. I will never support SWTOR with my money. That's just my attitude. hmph.

decoy1978
decoy1978

$15 a month is real small imo. If all I were to play is ONE game and that is an MMO, $15 is a fantastic deal than buying a new game every 2 months...

brunorr
brunorr

The failure of this game will have a good impact on the mmo indusrty. At last the guys with suits will realize they can't push another linear theme park mmo in the market because people are fed up with it. Maybe we'll see something new from now on.

holtrocks
holtrocks

I wonder how much of that was going to George Lucas at least 10-15 mil, right?

megakick
megakick

The MMO part is not new just the story telling. I don't spend my money on a half baked $200 million game. It has nothing to do with the $15 a month. I did play WOW for a few years.

lindallison
lindallison

Incredible! I remember when WC4 costing 12 million was big news...

GarGx1
GarGx1

I'm personally loving the game, it's good fun and I'm in a guild with good people. We're having a blast. However to think that it'll hold onto 75 - 90% of initial purchasers is optimistic to say the least.

prince__vlad
prince__vlad

200 millions for a crap game which looks like crap. That's what I call real stupidity. Except teens, who have small brains and no criteria, who can get this right I wonder...Bhaah!

Hurvl
Hurvl

"The Old Republic cost $200 million to develop, well above the $80 million forecast by Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter last May". OMFG, Michael Pachter was wrong! This is a sign of the end of days, when know-it-all "experts" can't get away with pulling stuff out of their ass and presenting it as truth.

Eagleheart1980
Eagleheart1980

Oh & forgot to mention that Mi being stunned from the adventures in the Old Republic & those minor negative things that i wrote doesn't break that stunning feeling as hoping that things will change. Old Republic is still a baby as only 1m3d old if counted from official release day. I'm sure that Evil EA don't pull the strings on decisions for Old Republic,but Bioware has nice control for it. Wishing that good spirits protect Bioware & all True SW Lore fans.

ziproy
ziproy

Ugh can you people stop being so ignorant and at least play the game before you say its the worst MMO you've ever played...

Eagleheart1980
Eagleheart1980

If those who can't afford for such a small amount as monthly fee & considering that many ppl who prefer to use F2P method & may use bigger amount in a month for things that destroy ur body..Tobacco,alcohol,junk food & soda for example. Then they should rethink what they are saying. I'm always adventuring in SW Universe with relaxed pace & started 13.12 & had few days minor break in early january. Now around 30 with mi char and around 20 on other char cause no rush. I wish Bioware wouldn't have gone with so called evasive maneuvers in creating Wpvp locations since atm. there isn't much of it before reaching current max lvl "Illum" & weird to support those ppl who have only xp glow in their eyes & just going from point a to point b with fire under their as* by giving Sprint ability to so many classes. Flashpoints that i've seen have many very enjoyable so far even though they r too simple upto Mandalorian Raiders FP No feeling of job well done after fights in Flashpoints until the last bossy encounters which makes the work less enjoyable in the Flashpoint trips. Also when everyone have the sprint in use when not in combat it just looks stupid when everyone going forward with fire under their as* and uuh lets get the next simple grp & so on. But i'm hoping that things will change and Rp / Wpvp fans get some love laters. Registered to Swtor website in 2008 & pre ordered in 1st day it became possible & been a huge Sw Lore fan for over 17years. Peace & May the Force Be with U.

Crimson_Erskine
Crimson_Erskine

The game is a lot of fun. I'm reading a lot of bashing on here, but its most likely from people who have never played it and don't know what they're talking about. It's game play is a lot like WoW, Rift, AoC but it isn't a clone. It's a linear storyline that evolves with the choices you make along the way. If you have no interest in a game like that, then don't play, but don't say crap you can't support. Haters gonna hate, but this has killed WoW for me.

kiopta1
kiopta1

The board is like a musical about gangs battleing it out through interprative dance....and makes me a sad panda.

Psycold
Psycold

I wish this game never came out, mainly because I want Origin to go away forever and this game only serves to line EA's pockets.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

I'll play this when it's free to play. If that ever happens... I don't mind BUYING a game. I just don't like this monthly fee model most MMO's seem to enjoy having.

Triton
Triton

Guess this is why the game will never be free to play. Hey as long as there is a demand to have another monthly bill more power to them. Build it and they will come.

danish-death
danish-death

@n0matter - have you Even tried the game or Are you just listing things random BS from the forum? I mean.. While the game truly is bugged, people raging about no endgame Are utterly retarded. The game currently features 2 raids, "heroic" instances, a warzone and pvp games. The game got its first major patch and already the next Sem major patch is on PTS. Com March we'll receive the second majo patch that features more endgame content. Tell me, how much endgame content did cataclysm release with? 2-3 raids on an already established franchise?

musalala
musalala

So from what I"m reading its a WOW clone and a poor one at that

008Zulu
008Zulu

I heard it was 500 million. Still, if they don't go full global with regional servers, then this game is going to stay as popular as the edited trilogy.

SniperFire17
SniperFire17

@n0matter It took blizzard 5 years to develop World of Warcraft. Plus the 6 years it has been out. 5 + 6 = 11 It took Blizzard 11 years to make WoW what it is today. I myself didn't feel like waiting for The Old Republic for another 4 years. The content it has is more than what WoW had when it first came out. You people have to be patient with the content. This game is huge.

sircyrus
sircyrus

I guess the more money a game costs to make, the worse it's community is. WoW's community is horrible, but in an immature moron kind of way that can occasionally be funny. SWTOR's community is horrible, but in an elitist asshat with a stick up their rear end kind of way. Never in my life have I come across so many unattractive people (personality-wise) as on the SWTOR official forums.

holyghost87
holyghost87

Well, you need strong fundamental games to build a really massive MMORPG. Like Blizzard, they have the solid storylines, characters, skills, etc etc spanning from Warcraft 1 to W3:TFT, novels and so on.

But for StarWars, I find most of the related games are just average. And, Bioware doesn't develop all the SW games. So, the result of SW:TOR is expected.

tagz00100z
tagz00100z

YA and they blocked the selling of the game in more than half the planet very smart ea. I wanted to buy this game when it was out but after being denied on the store because of my region iam happy used the money to pay my bills.

noobzoer
noobzoer

200 million, 800 developers on 4 continets, realy? and still unable to deliver responsiveness and fluidity of vanilla WoW. Swtor meet your older cousin Warhammer Online.

n0matter
n0matter

2 million purchases=$100 million in sales. The game needs to sustain 700k+ subs for an entire year for it to break even on development costs. This excludes the tens of millions that have gone into marketing, distribution, hardware and maintenance costs. Rift made just 100 mil in it's first year and is basically giving the title away for free at this point. I remember people talking about how that would be the game that REALLY, finally killed WoW. Go look at the official TOR forums: http://www.swtor.com/community/ It's saturated with posts about people saying there's NOTHING to do when you hit 50, pvp is broken, the game is glitchy as hell, people complaining that 1-50 is basically a one player game, people leaving after one month. Wow. Again, I don't care if it's new. All of this or at least SOME of it should have been taken care of during the months it was in beta.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

What?? Wedbush's Michael Pachter's prediction was off? I'm shocked! Oh, only off by $120....million! lol

n0matter
n0matter

150k user--source? You sure did pull that one out of your ass.

COLDFIRE25
COLDFIRE25

@KamuiFei KOTOR 3 would not have turned up anywhere near as good of a profit as this game has already. I loved the KOTOR games and would love a third one, lets see wht there is to come in the future.

fa11en1134
fa11en1134

this is pretty impressive considering wow only had about 150k users by the end of its first year. i dont see anything "de-throning" wow anytime soon but this is a great guage of how successful the game is.

KamuiFei
KamuiFei

If even half of those resources went into developing KOTOR 3 or an epic BioWare Star Wars IP, imagine how great of a game it would've been... Seems like everyone wants to attempt to dethrone WoW or try to be the next thing like it though.

paladin125
paladin125

I used to think a good deal of people would stick around - until I hit 50. Maybe it just needs to mature, maybe its simply because of a lack of other 50's on my server, but I feel like there is simply nothing to do anymore.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

@alenth: I very much doubt, with the release of SWTOR, that I'll ever see a KOTOR 3. It's more profitable to make MMOs (if they're successful) than it is to make single-player games. It's called monthly profits. It's that big sucking sound coming out of your wallet. Glitches aside, content aside, it's all about profit. $200 million? That could probably make 3 to 4 KOTOR 3's, start to finish. Please try to see this issue from other sides than "I love everything Star Wars". I love Star Wars too, but not enough to pour money down a womp rat hole. I love the stories more than I love level-grinding, and so I sink that money into the Star Wars novels instead (and other games). When KOTOR 3 comes around (and maybe, MAYBE even sequels to X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Empire At War, etc), then and only then will I sink more money into Star Wars games. No MMOs, period.

shadow580
shadow580

I wish Bioware would have spent a little bit more on character creation in Swtor. It gets kinda annoying to be constantly see the same people over and over again. I've talked to myself a couple of times as well.

n0matter
n0matter

"It's not gonna be like WoW, it hasn't been out for 6 years." In other words, I should come back in six years? Sorry but my expectations are for a GREAT game NOW. Otherwise, where's the incentive to play the game? I'm not going to give them the benefit of the doubt and excuse tons of glitches, subpar graphics and a horrible end game with a 200 million dollar development cost. They should have everything perfect at this point. It took SIX YEARS to develop. How much should I be willing to forgive?

SniperFire17
SniperFire17

@n0matter It's not glitchy at all actually. very minor glitches. You're so called friends that are canceling their subs must not play video games very much. and they may be liars.

monowasp
monowasp

Sorry, nothing for me at the moment.

DjKofee
DjKofee

You guys could get some more money with the game if you let me think... hum... release in other places, besides North America and Europe! I'm from Brazil and I can't buy...

xdude85
xdude85

A bit over-budget if you ask me.

triple_punse
triple_punse

The game is fun, I havent put this many hours in a game in quite a while.

Erebus890
Erebus890

@n0matter Horrible MMO? That's a pretty bold thing to say considering you've obviously NEVER played it. Because there's actually a lot of end game content... you know, for an MMO that's newly released. It's not gonna be like WoW, it hasn't been out for 6 years.

n0matter
n0matter

"Additionally, he said he expects 75 to 90 percent of initial purchasers to stay onboard as paid subscribers following the bundled 30-day free game time." What the...does he even play the game? All but one person that I know who bought this is already cancelling their sub. Apparently it's so glitchy right now it's almost unplayable. And that's not even considering the almost nonexistant pvp and end game content. Great 1 player game. Horrible MMO...if it can even be called that.

alenth
alenth

STFU with the "waaa waa i want KOTOT 3" thing, this current gen of gamers is really depressing whiners whiners everywhere, damn internet era, if the devs are not enough competent with a game that's their problem but you people act as if you are never going to see more games in the future.

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

It would have been nice if they spent half that to do KOTOR III, on modern platforms they could do a larger version of the SW galaxy, they could have a larger ship and just an altogether better game, not that KOTOR was bad... I guess Mass Effect is as close to KOTOR as were going to get anymore......Oh well... I'm sorry but I don't dig MMO's that much so I don't have the rosiest of dispositions, In a way I feel bad to be a SW fan cus there isn't any good SW games anymore not like Battlefront, KOTOR, Republic Commando, Shadows Of The Empire, Jedi knight/Jedi Academy, Rogue Squadron and X-Wing vs TIE/X-Wing Alliance....