Electronic Arts (EA) and Lucasfilm Ltd. announced on Thursday a new global publishing agreement for BioWare's highly-anticipated MMOG, Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA said that all publishing, marketing and distribution responsibilities will be shifted over to the company, reportedly centralized for efficiency.
"There's not going to be any obvious change for gamers," said BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka during an EA Games showcase event in San Francisco. "It makes things easier for us to have everything under one roof, and that will eventually benefit players." Customer service was offered as an example.
So what role will Lucasfilm (LucasArts) play? According to EA, Lucasfilm will continue serving as a key partner, collaborating on design and marketing, and as a licensor of the property. This means George Lucas and Co. will continue to stay hands-on with the project to ensure that the final experience is 100-percent Star Wars in content and overall tone.
When launched, players will explore "an age thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader when war between the Old Republic and the Sith Empire divides the galaxy." As indicated, the game will have two factions with four classes each: Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight, and Jedi Consular for the Galactic Republic and Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, and Sith Inquisitor for the Sith Empire.
Currently Star Wars: The Old Republic is still slated for a Q1/Q2 2011 release. We're hoping sooner than later.