If you had your doubts about the continuing power of the Star Wars license, think again. The Old Republic has received nearly 1.5 million sign-ups for potential beta testers, EA revealed. The Bioware Austin-developed MMO has been in a closed beta, expected to open to a wider audience soon.
The game is set for release sometime in 2011, though neither EA nor Bioware have provided a specific date. The closed beta has been active since last July, so the open beta will run for much less time. Stress-testing would most likely be a focus, but with so many people interested, an open beta is a good way for Bioware to make some early fans.
Gamasutra participated in a phone interview in which EA CFO Eric Brown spoke on what the team expects for the launch window of the game. “We’re not that concerned about generating initial demand,” he said. “For us it’s about creating the right experience for expanding from tier 1 and the tier 2 users to getting people who have never played an MMO before, but are interested in Star Wars, to engage and give it a try.”
There’s not much reason to be concerned with initial demand. During my time at PAX East last weekend, there was one booth that was overcrowded for the majority of the show—even during the brief press-only hour on Saturday. Bioware has had some knockout hits recently, and Star Wars fans haven’t gone anywhere. The Old Republic could be the genuine contender to the MMO crown people have been waiting for.