EA to release "major MMO" in spring 2011

Star Wars: Old Republic the likely candidate.

EA chief executive John Riccitiello has said that the publisher is planning to release a "major MMO" in "spring 2011".

It seems likely that Riccitiello was referring to BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic, a joint venture with LucasArts. The other unreleased massively multiplayer games on EA's slate are less conventional and scheduled for 2010 releases: Realtime Worlds' subscription-free online action game APB, and the free-to-play Need for Speed: World Online.

"One key driver is going to be the launch date of our major MMO," Riccitiello said in an investor conference call (thanks Shacknews). "As it stands today, the game is making great progress towards a spring 2011 launch.

"But given the volatility of this particular sector and the fact that we haven't yet provided a specific launch date, at least for now, we're excluding the revenue, or will be excluding the revenue, from our FY11 plans."

GameSpot asked an EA rep if Riccitiello was talking about The Old Republic and was told, "No further comment beyond what John said. This wasn't a comment about a specific franchise, but a notation on how we are building a plan and guidance for the next fiscal year."

Star Wars: The Old Republic is considered the first credible threat to Activision Blizzard's World of Warcraft, whose immense revenues Riccitiello presumably eyes with envy - so it would make sense for him to refer to it as "our major MMO". Many thought it might see the light of day in late 2010, but EA, LucasArts and BioWare have never previously given any indication on its release date.

Of course, it could be that EA has another MMO project in the works that it hasn't told anyone about yet.

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