The highly anticipated remake of the video game Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic has a new developer after a bumpy ride.
The project, formerly in development at Austin, Texas-based Aspyr Media, is now being led by one of Saber Interactive’s Eastern European studios, according to a person familiar with the change who asked not to be identified because the details are private. Both developers are owned by the Swedish company Embracer Group, which obliquely referenced the pivot in a public statement last week. A representative for Embracer didn’t immediately have a comment.
The transition shuts down any lingering hope within Aspyr that it may be able to continue leading the project. Bosses at the studio, which had been developing the remake for more than two years, told staff last month that the game was “on pause” as the company tried to figure out what to do next, Bloomberg reported. The message left open the possibility that Aspyr could one day reclaim a leadership role, but rumors quickly swirled among employees that Saber was taking over.
Last Thursday, Embracer said in a financial report that one of its big titles, known within the industry as a triple-A game, had switched developers, but did not identify the game.
“One of the Group’s AAA projects has transitioned to another studio within the Group,” the company wrote. “This was done to ensure the quality bar is where we need it to be for the title.” Some analysts correctly guessed, based on Bloomberg’s previous reporting, that the statement referred to the Star Wars remake.
Embracer intends to recreate the magic of the original Knights of the Old Republic, a role-playing game that came out in 2003 to great acclaim, and update it using modern technology. The game lets players create their own Jedi, wield light sabers and choose whether to follow the light or dark side of the Force, in a galaxy filled with complex characters and a rich story.
Remakes have become common in recent years, but it’s rare for a game to switch companies in the middle of development. Doing so almost always leads to major delays. The new developer must learn how to adapt to unfamiliar code, and in most cases will revamp or at least modify previous decisions made for the project.
Embracer said it is not “expecting any material delays” due to the transition. But the game, announced during a PlayStation event last year, does not have a public release date and will likely take at least two more years to finish, people familiar with development said. Embracer’s stock tumbled on Monday after lukewarm reviews of an upcoming game, Saints Row, and is down 28% this year.
Still, some close to the project said they are optimistic this will lead to a better product. Decision-makers at Embracer and at publishers Sony and Walt Disney Co., both of whom have financial interests in the game, were displeased with progress under Aspyr, which ultimately led to the transition.