EA is nearing an agreement to move the ongoing development and operation of MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic from BioWare to third-party studio Broadsword Online Games, IGN has learned.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Broadsword and EA have signed a letter of intent, with the deal expected to be finalized as soon as this month. The agreement would see The Old Republic handed over to current Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot developer Broadsword Online, which is run by former Mythic Entertainment co-founder and BioWare VP Rob Denton, who previously worked on The Old Republic in its early days.
After the publication of this story, EA addressed the news in the following statement:
“Almost 12 years after launch, Star Wars: The Old Republic remains a success and continues to grow its dedicated and passionate community. We’re so proud of the work the team has done, and the future of the game and the community continues to be very bright. We’re evaluating how we give the game and the team the best opportunity to grow and evolve, which includes conversations with Broadsword, a boutique studio that specializes in delivering online, community-driven experiences. Our goal is to do what is best for the game and its players.”
Currently, roughly 70-80 people are part of the core development team of The Old Republic, more than half of whom are expected to move to Broadsword. Those remaining with EA would have an opportunity to look for roles elsewhere within the company, but may otherwise face layoffs.
The Old Republic will continue to see planned content updates, such as the upcoming patch 7.3 and the next PvP season, with more expected down the line. EA will remain as the game’s publisher, while BioWare will focus its resources on single-player games such as Dragon Age and Mass Effect. The two series announced new games in 2018 and 2020, respectively, but details for both have been scarce ever since and Dragon Age: Dreadwolf in particular seems to be suffering from an exodus of senior leadership. Its QA workers voted to unionize last year
A new hope
The Old Republic was first launched in December of 2011, and IGN gave it a 9/10 in our review at the time. It was initially released as a subscription game but was converted within the first year to free-to-play after a steep subscription drop-off, and has remained that way ever since to steady success.
The Old Republic is still being updated regularly, with numerous expansions over the last decade, and while it never quite reached the heights of competitor World of Warcraft, it did achieve nearly $1 billion in lifetime revenue as of 2019. Last year, its creative director Charles Boyd left the company after 16 years.
The Old Republic remains a popular period within the Star Wars universe, with Lucasfilm acknowledging it as a potential setting for future movies and shows. A remake of the original Knights of the Old Republic is currently in development, but its status is unknown after being delayed indefinitely.
One way or another, the Old Republic is on the cusp of a new era.
Additional reporting by Kat Bailey.
Update, June 6, 2023: Updated to include a statement from EA.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.