The LucasArts and BioWare announcement yesterday revealed the two companies haven't been forced to stop hanging out, despite revealed plans for the Canadian developer (alongside Pandemic Studios) to be acquired by Electronic Arts. As pointed out in the previous story, both Pandemic and BioWare indicated that folding into the EA empire didn't mean a disassembling of their existing publisher relationships.
"I don't think this necessarily closes as many doors as you think. BioWare, Pandemic right now have existing publishing relations with many companies and we're excited to continue those," said Pandemic President and co-founder Josh Resnick to 1UP.
BioWare and LucasArts confirmed this again, but the release didn't detail what the collaboration is -- but signs have pointed in the direction of a Star Wars MMO. Since December 2005, BioWare has been cranking away at a mysterious MMO down in Austin, Texas. Sony Online Entertainment, the folks behind Star Wars Galaxies, are located in Austin, as well, and BioWare confirmed to us almost a year ago an unspecified number of SOE employees migrated to BioWare when they moved into the area.
Obviously, BioWare has already shown LucasArts they have a deep respect for Star Wars and ability to create compelling new characters and stories within that universe -- hello, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Employment listings for the Austin studio have listed work related to a "fantasy" project, leading some to believe the MMO is culled from BioWare's work in the D&D world. Ignoring that Star Wars could easily be construed as fantasy, a D&D MMO already exists in Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, and another team at BioWare is already hard at work on the D&D-influenced Dragon Age. It'd be a bit excessive.
It's no mystery that Star Wars Galaxies hasn't been as successful -- critically or commercially -- as hoped. Much needed gameplay reboots came months and years into the release cycle, and while expansion packs were marked improvements, it was too little, too late for many. For ages, rumors have existed that LucasArts was shopping for someone else to take over the reins, but given the heavy backlash SWG received, it's hard to discern who simply has an agenda against SOE's handling of the game.
BioWare has remained steadfast in its silence about the MMO, being especially touchy about whether it's based on an original BioWare IP, something completely new or an existing license. They were most cagey in an interview with GameSpot regarding the EA acquisition, where BioWare co-founder and co-CEO Dr. Ray Muzyka couldn't provide a straightforward response on whether the MMO was an original IP.
GS: Right, but judging by John's [Riccitiello, EA CEO] enthusiasm, it sounds pretty safe to say the MMO is an all-original IP. Would that be fair to say?
RM: [Long pause] We haven't revealed any details about the game. It's super secret right now.
That's certainly a strange answer to an otherwise straightforward question.
So far, there's no "smoking gun" that indicates BioWare is working on a Star Wars MMO, but given BioWare's past experience with the franchise, their inability to comment on the nature of the IP the title's based on and yesterday's announcement citing the collaboration between BioWare and LucasArts as covering "ground-breaking interactive entertainment product," it certainly sounds like the folks in Austin are cooking up something a bit more ambitious than just another RPG.
> Source : The Evidence for BioWare's Star Wars MMO