Star Wars: The Old Republic important to MMO market - Blizzard

Studio heads Frank Pearce and Mike Morhaime are hopeful that BioWare's upcoming sci-fi MMORPG brings new players to the genre.

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World of Warcraft developer Blizzard is king of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game market. The game's most recent expansion--Cataclysm--sold nearly 5 million copies in its first month, and World of Warcraft's total subscriber base currently stands at 12 million. That being the case, Blizzard is rooting for the success of its upcoming competitor, BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Blizzard hopes SW:TOR doesn't ruin the MMORPG genre for anyone.
Blizzard hopes SW:TOR doesn't ruin the MMORPG genre for anyone.

In an interview with MCV, Blizzard cofounder Frank Pearce said, "[The Old Republic] is a game that has an opportunity to grow the MMO market if done right and therefore is very important to the industry as a whole, not just EA."

Blizzard's CEO Mike Morhaime also viewed SW:TOR optimistically, saying he would enjoy seeing BioWare's sci-fi MMORPG perform well because doing so would bring more players to the genre.

"It's certainly a strong franchise and BioWare's a great developer," he said. "We've talked about this internally, and from our perspective we hope they make an enjoyable game because they're going to bring in a lot of new players to the MMO genre, and those players' idea of whether or not they like this type of game is going to be determined by that experience."

As for The Old Republic, the game--which nearly 1.5 million have signed up to beta-test--takes place approximately 300 years after the events of the original game but some 3,600 years before the events of LucasArts' quintessential films. Players can choose to align themselves with either side of the Force, taking on professions like the Sith warrior and bounty hunter for the dark side and the trooper and smuggler for the Galactic Republic.

The Old Republic was recently delayed and is now expected to arrive during the back half of 2011. For more on the title, check out GameSpot's most recent hands-on preview of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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