It would be incorrect to say that the “Knights of the Old Republic” is finished. This is only true to a point, but due to Bioware’s renewed interest in the franchise with the development of their upcoming MMORPG, “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” we can safely say that the “setting,” as it were, has been unearthed and that we are to see a continuation of the series in the form of an online game rather than a single player RPG.
With that said, many fans–including myself–aren’t at all pleased by this development. An online game is all well and good, but it would be more than a dream come true for us if Bioware returned the game to its single player roots with the creation of a “Knights of the Old Republic 3,” if you will.
There’s a multitude of reasons as to why the setting would be better served as a single player experience than an online game. First and foremost, “The Old Republic” is simply going to be a continuation, of sorts, of the failed “Star Wars Galaxies” by Sony Online Entertainment. And it goes without saying that going head to head with “World of Warcraft” isn’t the best idea, especially considering how so many other titles, including EA’s own “Warhammer: Age of Reckoning” and many other titles have failed to compete with Blizzard’s unyielding juggernaut. I question the game’s development.
There is nothing wrong with trying to compete with juggernauts–especially when the market has room for two or more competing titles. There is room in the FPS genre for multiple contenders–”Call of Duty”, “Halo”, “Battlefield” and “Killzone,” just to name a few. The “Call of Duty” series might be the most successful first person shooter on the market, but the market’s shown time and time again that it’s big enough to sustain more than a single military-themed FPS, especially if Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon series and EA’s Medal of Honor and Battlefield titles are any strong indicators.
Yet, the FPS market is nothing at all like the MMORPG market. There are only so many MMORPG players to go around who are willing to pay a subscription fee.
The FPS market and the RPG market (to bring KOTOR back into the topic) can get away with having plenty of competition because gamers simply have to pay a one time fee to play a game for as long as they like. These games don’t suffer from the same pitfalls as MMOs. For instance, players aren’t at any sort of disadvantage for picking up a single player game six months after its release as they would with an MMORPG.
Single player games do not suffer from the same limitations and restraints as online games, nor do they require the same amount of financial investment from either the players or the creators. They’re safer investments for developers, and they cater to a much larger market of gamers. And they’re safer bets for gamers, who don’t have as much time or money to lose on a single game.
With “The Old Republic” possibly failing to meet the expectations of both the public and the investors who poured their money into its development, the fate of the setting arguably teeters on the brink. It could end up being buried forever if LucasArts decides the setting was to blame for the game’s failure. But before that should happen, KOTOR3 needs to come along and pick up the franchise.
The time is right for a new game set in the Star Wars universe that doesn’t contradict the established franchise and manages to bring it back into prominence, especially with the failures of both “The Forced Unleashed” games.
“Knights of the Old Republic 3” is in a unique position in that it has a strong following of RPG players outside of the Star Wars fanbase and that its creators–be they Bioware or Obsidian–have the freedom to do as they like with the story and its characters without LucasArts executives looking over their shoulders.
It goes without saying that the next “The Knights of the Old Republic” game would be best served as a single player RPG, in the same vein as the original two KOTOR titles but also with the polish and mechanical advances of BioWare’s latest titles. The events of the game could take place after the second game, and even take place simultaneously with “The Old Republic,” potentially giving players of both games a firmer grasp on the setting and a stake in the events that unfold.
Why waste your time competing with Blizzard when you've got the single player RPG genre pretty much in your bag, Bioware? “Knights of the Old Republic 3” is a surefire success. You can't go wrong with it. That everyone wants to play it is an undeniable fact. Give the people what they want.