Star Wars: The Old Republic release expected in 2011, not confirmed

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During the same Electronic Arts investor call yesterday in which company CEO John Riccitiello discussed the release delay for Mass Effect 3, new insights were also offered on forthcoming release of another of the publisher’s highly anticipated video games. Fans and Activision Blizzard both have been watching very closely for news of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The former because it’s a gaming community built around Star Wars and the former because SW:TOR is the most viable threat yet to World of Warcraft‘s undisputed dominance of the MMO market.

The latest EA earnings report, issued to investors as an accompaniment to the conference call, states that the game is set to launch “in the second half of calendar 2011” (via GameSpot). EA Games president Frank Gibeau referred to The Old Republic launch as the “biggest event of the year.” He wouldn’t specify a more specific date or release window, claiming that the publisher doesn’t want to “tip off the competition” and that more data is needed from the game’s ongoing closed beta before a release can be officially set.

Company CFO Eric Brown also brought up SW:TOR, though his forecast makes mention of a possible later release, in 2012. “Although we fully anticipate launching Star Wars: The Old Republic [by the end of 2012], the low end of our guidance range assumes the outside possibility of a January launch,” he said. Riccitiello was similarly cautious in his own statements. “The launch date, while in our fiscal year, is not yet certain” (via Joystiq). EA’s fiscal year ends in March 2012, so it seems we can expect the MMO to arrive before or by then.