The recently launched MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic could be the most massive video game project ever. The game's development involved over 800 people on four continents have been working on the game. Organizing a massive amount of employees over such huge distances is, understandably, a bit difficult.
Many important aspects of the game are handled overseas. According to the Los Angeles Times, the game's art was outsourced to Russia, Estonia, and China. Quality assurance testing is done in Romania, Argentina and India. The customer service operations are handled out of Ireland. While motion capture filming takes place in Los Angeles and Vancouver, the voice acting accompanying it is performed in New York, London and Paris.
"Coordinating it all is like teaching elephants to do ballet,” said BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk.
The six years of development cost an estimated $200 million. That's likely not counting the considerable amount of money that EA spent marketing the game. To give you a basis of comparison: Grand Theft Auto IV cost about $100 million.
The LA Times says that, in order for the game to break even, Old Republic will need over a million players to not only buy the game but also pay for the $15/month subscription. TOR racked up a million players in its first week but it remains to be seen if those crowds will stay. The game came with 30 days of free game time, which ran out this weekend for people who bought the game at launch. Now that people have to start ponying up subscription money, we'll soon have a clearer picture of how the game's doing.
It's a constant challenge for MMO developers to keep players subscribing. BioWare is hoping to prevent the "bleeding" of subscribers that some new MMOs see after launch by providing regular content updates. The first update, 1.1, went live last week. BioWare has several more updates planned for the coming months as well.