With gaming developer Bioware’s much anticipated Star Wars the Old Republic set to be released on 12/20/11, the lingering question in the mind of many PC gamers and fans of video games in general is a familiar one. Will this ring the death knell for World of Warcraft? With still more than 9 million players logging into Blizzards MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), how many will jump ship or at least dip their feet in the alluring waters where Jedi play? I for one will at least dive in and take a few laps to get a sense of what improvements and changes Bioware offers those who enjoy the MMO experience.
Dedicated WoW players like me have an impassioned love for the world we play in now. The hardcore among us pour anywhere between 10 and 60 hours a week, in some cases even more than that, into maxing out every ounce of our talent. Many years of success in one place is something difficult to relinquish voluntarily. We’ve had demoralizing defeats and hard earned triumphs in a team environment. In most cases this is a euphoria that is rarely duplicated in the gaming world because it takes a great deal of time and wherewithal to coordinate a successful gaming team. To either abandon that world we built completely or to fork over more money to create another life in another universe from scratch is going to require a magnetic pull of gargantuan proportions. But I’ll be the first to admit that a name like LucasArts can plant that first seed of commitment.
While the recent addition of Rift to the MMO landscape drew some players away from the Warcraft behemoth, the brand name Star Wars has a cache that very few brands on earth can rely on. People have been collecting Star Wars memorabilia for more than thirty years and it is one of the few movie going experiences that has transcended the generations. Star Wars the Old Republic has a proven gaming developer behind it. Bioware’s recent plunge into the science fiction role playing universe netted them several game of the year nominations and awards for Mass Effect and the successful sequel Mass Effect 2. The final edition to the trilogy is slated for a March 2012 release and is one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of the upcoming calendar year. Both titles are heralded in a large percentage of console gamer libraries and are among the best reviewed games of the last 5 years. And while the trailers for Star Wars the Old Republic show no actual gameplay, they are among the most breathtaking cinematic gaming experiences of all time. The game is being expertly marketed and the gaming community has taken notice.
One of the things that players of Bioware games remark on more than anythig is how real and believable the gaming environments appear. That suspension of disbelief is crucial in creating the kind of passion that Blizzard inspires in its players and it is the one thing that Bioware must accomplish if it is to hook players the same way.
The arrival of this game is beneficial for the gaming community because it offers variety. If you like to drink soda but all you have to drink is Coke and something called Pepsi arrives on the scene you will probably take a sip to see if you like it. That analogy is an appropriate one for the upcoming duel that Blizzard and Bioware will take part in to win your dollars.