EA has never said exactly how much it has spent funding BioWare's Old Republic MMO, but it has admitted to spending more on it than any other game in the publisher's history. Rumors claim the sum lands anywhere between $100 - $300 million dollars.
However, despite how much is being spent on it, the BioWare doctors view the title's expense as more of a "bet" than a "risk".
Speaking with Eurogamer, Ray Muzyka called the game a "tremendous opportunity" and while it is indeed a big bet, it's "right" kind of bet for both EA and BioWare to make.
"It's taking everything we know from the last 15 to 20 years of development experience and place some amazing people onto the team, with MMO experience as well as RPG experience," he said. "The team is a group I'm really proud of. They're working really hard to deliver this great game. It's got a lot of content. It's taking the best of features from other products like MMOs and putting them together with something BioWare's known for: the story, choice and consequence, but not losing anything in the translation - exploration, combat, customisation, progression.
"So in that sense it's really a smart decision. It's a pretty good bet for a studio group like BioWare to be building right now. We see it as more opportunity than anything else."
Greg Zeschuk added that "entertainment's risky by nature" as sometimes what's put out there is successful, and sometimes it's not.
"We're bringing to bear an incredible amount of talent and focus on something that also happens to be the biggest brand in the world," he said. "Everything works out, we're all pretty happy."
"And it's a great BioWare type experience in a massively multiplayer space in a Star Wars setting," said Muzyka. "Those seem to be some pretty good factors that have set us up for massive success. Beyond that, we just build the best game we can. We're certainly making a game that has a lot of value long-term and it's going to be a great experience for fans who love Star Wars or BioWare games or MMOs generally or just a great online experience with their friends."
As far as whether SWTOR will have microstransaction elements or not included with the planned sub-model, neither Muzyka or Zeschuk would say, but Zeschuk is of the belief that no matter the payment option, users are paying the same in the long run anyway.
"The expectation is that for subscription it will be deeper and have other longer-term benefits that perhaps wouldn't be as significant in a free-to-play game," he told Videogamer in another interview. "Or maybe the free-to-play game will offer the exact same thing, but it's going to cost you the exact same thing anyway [via micro-transactions].
"The price is the price is the price, know matter how much you dress it up."
SWTOR is on the docket for a 2011 release.