by Poison Taco
Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to be a big game. BioWare, EA and LucasArts are all working very hard to make TOR a success not only at launch but beyond. TOR has the potential to be so much more than an MMO and if it gets to the same level as World of Warcraft then not even Lucasfilm would be able to turn a blind eye to the universe BioWare has created within the Star Wars fiction. There’s room for more stories to be told. Through books, TV, games and maybe even movies. Even though The Old Republic will have its own stories crafted by the minds at BioWare, they have still put in a tremendous amount of effort into creating a rich back-story that spans decades into the timeline. A rebooted LucasArts studio could turn to bringing more Star Wars franchises into The Old Republic setting, the minds behind the Clone Wars could easily make a spinoff taking place in the war between the Republic and the Sith Empire, and Lucasfilm could take the next step and bring in another new generation into Star Wars. We are not only looking at the next big step in MMO’s. BioWare’s game could very well be the next step for Star Wars.
The first and most obvious step to capitalizing on The Old Republic is to start writing novels. There are many Star Wars novels that greatly expand the fiction of Star Wars. They introduce us to new characters, they continue the stories of ones we already know, and they bring in new themes and plots to explore. So far we’ve seen two books based on TOR with a third on the way. We are also now getting a third comic from BioWare, Lucas and Dark Horse. Chances are we will see even more released as the years go by. There are still origin stories out there to be told. A lot of people might be interested to learn more about the origins and adventures of characters such as Satele Shan, Darth Malgus, Vette, and anyone else we come across in our in-game journeys. We could see novel series that take place during the Great War, more novels that bridge the gap between KOTOR and TOR, and introduce us to characters that have only been hinted at in the Timeline videos. There is so much to learn and read about and with the Great War spanning decades there is a lot of room for individual stories. Fatal Alliance, Deceived and Revan are just the beginning. As TOR is released, expect also more novels to be released in this time period.
Success for The Old Republic could influence LucasArts to make more video games in the time period. In terms of gameplay BioWare’s MMO can only go so far to capture the action that Star Wars is well known for. Already existing Star Wars franchises such as Battlefront, Jedi Knight, The Force Unleashed and Republic Commando would fit well in this era. How cool would it be to get a new Battlefront and experience the Battle of Bothawui, the Breaking of the Mandalorian Blockade, and the Sacking of Coruscant? Or how about a Jedi Knight game starring Satele Shan or any other prominent Jedi? It would be a whole new setting for many developers and offer a lot more freedom for them to get really creative. Maybe there would even be room for a true Knights of the Old Republic successor for fans to enjoy. The possibilities are endless. LucasArts just needs to make any of these games happen and they will have many happy fans. TOR is an MMORPG and Star Wars can be done in so many different genres. We could get first-person shooters, action games, gfighting games, you name it. Who wants to start putting bets down for when we see LEGO Star Wars: The Old Republic?! Who wants to see how long it takes before we see actual TOR LEGO sets…
If TOR becomes as big as World of Warcraft, it would get some serious attention from Lucasfilm. Take WoW‘s 5.5 million subscribers outside of Asia (Asia has their own play by the hour business model). From these figures alone Blizzard makes $990 million from North America and Europe alone. World of Warcraft is reported to have hit 10 million total subscribers in early 2008. Let’s speculate that The Old Republic manages to get 5 million subscribers at $15 a month in North America and Europe, and manages to hold those numbers for three years. We’re looking in the neighborhood of just under $3 billion. In just three years The Old Republic would have made almost as much as the Original Trilogy at the box office, and that figure sits at $2,944,359,200 after inflation. TOR’s future at this point is still unknown and nobody knows if it will even come close to WoW’s numbers, but if TOR does get just as many subscriptions as WoW or more, it will make more money than all six Star Wars films at the box office. TOR’s exact numbers are impossible to predict. We all know World of Warcraft is a giant in the gaming industry. If The Old Republic becomes just as big, it is very possible that Lucasfilm could take it seriously.
When you look at the art style in The Old Republic, you could draw some similarities between it and the Clone Wars cartoon. Could it be possible that The Old Republic gets its own series? The short answer is yes. Clone Wars has been a huge success and while it has received mixed reactions from the most dedicated Star Wars fans, it is a huge hit among kids. Even though it is a cartoon made for children it does a good job of exploring mature themes that many kids shows don’t go near. When looking at the Clone Wars there isn’t a better kids show out there. A similar series could be made with TOR’s same stylized approach and hit the same themes found in BioWare’s game. Beyond an animated show however would be the ultimate holy grail for TOR fans: film. When you look at the numbers that TOR could potentially bring in, it is not hard to think that Lucas would, at the very least, consider movies set during The Old Republic. Who would make them, who should make them is an entirely different story. Years from now if TOR is a big presence in the MMO space and in the gamer culture we could start hearing talks about plans for the big screen. That being said, fans have been demanding a TOR movie since the first CGI trailer released by BioWare.
Could Darth Malgus become as iconic as Darth Vader? Could the Jedi Knight series retire Kyle Katarn in favor of Satele Shan? Could all the years of BioWare’s hard work get the attention of Lucasfilm? Only time will tell. One thing is certain though: once The Old Republic is released it will be here to stay. Not only will we be playing TOR, but we will be reading about it. Maybe LucasArts will give us new and interesting ways to play games in the TOR universe, and maybe Lucasfilm will be convinced to give us a treat on the big screen. We’re not only looking at the next step forward in MMOs here but also the next step forward in Star Wars. First there was the generation of Star Wars fans that grew up with the original trilogy with X-Wings, TIE Fighters, the Millenium Falcon and Stormtroopers. Then came a generation of Star Wars fans who grew up with clones, droids, and Jedi. The next generation of Star Wars fans could grow up with Darth Malgus instead of Darth Vader, T7-01 instead of R2-D2 and Shae Vizla instead of Boba Fett. Or it could be possible that none of this happens at all. In any case it will be interesting to see how Lucas will react to The Old Republic.