Gamers might have to wait a bit longer than expected to get their Jedi on.

Last January, EA CEO John Riccitiello dropped some hints that BioWare’s highly-anticipated MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic would be launching in Spring 2011. That release date may have been pushed back yet again – “development sources” have indicated to MCV that the story-focused Star Wars MMO is now scheduled for a September release.

If true, the bad news for publisher EA is that this means another half-year of paying the salaries of a sizable development team before it starts to see a return on its already-massive investment. Stockholders, who are already wary of the title’s success, may lose further confidence in the game, and that could hurt the company’s shares.

The good news is that this means another six months of development time for the team at BioWare Austin. Thus far, previews of The Old Republic have been relatively lukewarm, and half a year – an eternity in development time – to tighten up the mechanics could really help make the game better. Polish is invaluable for a new MMO in the post-WoW world, and six months of polish can only help. Not only that, but a September launch would place the title squarely at the beginning of the lucrative holiday season, with few major PC-exclusive titles to compete with.

It also means that probably more than a few of the millions of people who jumped back on the WoW train for Cataclysm will find the new luster starting to wear off the then-seven-year-old MMO. A new MMO with SW:TOR‘s clout could be perfectly poised to take a chunk out of Blizzard’s market share.

On the other hand, NCSoft’s Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have a release date beyond “sometime in 2011,” and if that solidifies some time too close to the release of TOR, the two anticipated games could hurt each others’ chances. There’s also the potential threat of Diabl – no, I can’t even finish typing that with a straight face.

Of course, this is just a rumor. The Old Republic could come out in spring of this year as planned. Who knows?


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