LucasArts, BioWare announce alliance

KOTOR MMORPG rumors surge as two companies announce collaboration on a "ground-breaking interactive entertainment product."

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Two weeks ago, a little-known game site claimed it had heard firsthand that BioWare's Austin studio is working on a massively multiplayer online role-playing game of the acclaimed Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series. However, both BioWare and Star Wars rights-holder LucasArts refused to comment on the project, leading some to believe the Austin project is an MMORPG version of the forthcoming Mass Effect.

Today, though, the KOTOR MMORPG rumor flamed up again, fueled by the unveiling of an official alliance between LucasArts and BioWare. Early this morning, the two companies announced they are collaborating on "a ground-breaking interactive entertainment product" and launched a cobranded Web site, www.LucasArtsBioWare.com.

"Through our previous collaborations, we know that BioWare has an impressive ability to blend gripping stories with technological advancements, and we believe that our upcoming product will deliver an experience that will span the traditional boundaries of video game entertainment," LucasArts president Jim Ward said in a statement.

Unfortunately, despite Ward's kind words and similarly rosy statements from BioWare co-CEOs Ray Myuzka and Greg Zeschuk, next to no information was revealed about the game. "Details will be unveiled at a later date," was as specific as the announcement got. However, since LucasArts almost exclusively publishes games based on the Star Wars universe, the chances of the game in question being Star Wars-related are high.

Today's announcement did yield one important nugget of information. The mystery game will be published and developed by LucasArts and BioWare, which is now owned by Electronic Arts. When EA bought BioWare/Pandemic for $860 million earlier in the month, one of the three reasons it gave for its pricey purchase was the unnamed MMORPG in the works at BioWare Austin. The secretive studio was formed early last year and employs several former members of the KOTOR, Ultima Online, and Star Wars: Galaxies development teams. BioWare's MMORPG is scheduled to launch in 2009.

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