EA confirms KOTOR MMO is in the works! Should World of Warcraft be worried?
In an interview at E3 2008, Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello said that EA is working on the next version of Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic, and it will most certainly have a massively multiplayer online component to it.
“We’ve got two of the most compelling MMOs in the industry in development,” said Riccitiello. The first title, based on the Warhammer property, will launch soon. “And the one that people are dying for us to talk to them about — in partnership with Lucas, coming out of BioWare, which is, I think, quite possibly the most anticipated game, full stop, for the industry at the point when we get closer to telling you about it.”
So, is this the much rumored Knights of the Old Republic Online? “Yes,” he said.
Moving into MMOs is an essential component for any gaming company, and it’s a big part of the reason Vivendi merged with Activision, for that company’s World of Warcraft MMO.
Riccitiello told Portfolio.com that he was interested in owning World of Warcraft, and that he did discuss it, but it wasn’t in the cards. “Because [Vivendi] couldn’t afford control of EA, and I wasn’t giving it up.”
But EA is firmly on that path now, with a KOTOR MMO, which would sidestep the consoles owned by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. “Increasingly, people are going to be talking about direct-to-customer in our business,” said Riccitiello. “I think we’ll be talking about it louder than most.”
Today, two-thirds of the game industry is console systems and dedicated handhelds. “We expect in 2011 for it to be fifty-percent,” Riccitiello said.
MMOs will also be useful as a way to expand into foreign territories.
“China’s a growth market for us,” he said. “We’re launching some mid-session games on a micro-transaction model.” In May of last year, the company announced an equity investment in a leading Chinese online game operator, The9, Ltd. “And there’s a bunch more coming that we haven’t announced. “