Report: Aspyr's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake is on pause

Two department directors were fired and the game was "put on pause" after the team completed a vertical demo to show to Aspyr's business partners.

Bloomberg News' Jason Schreier is reporting that Texas-area game studio Aspyr has put its remake of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic "on pause" and fired two department heads. According to Schreier's report, this followed the completion of a vertical slice of the final game that did not meet expectations.

Aspyr's version of Knights of the Old Republic (often shortened to KOTOR) was announced in 2021 as a ground-up remake of BioWare's 2003 role-playing game. The game debuted at a PlayStation Showcase event with the indication that it would be a console exclusive title on PlayStation 5. It had been in the works for the last three years, and was intended to launch in late 2022.

Schreier's sources told him that a "realistic target" for the game as of this date would be a release in 2025.

This title would have been Aspyr's first original game project. Though the game is a "remake" of KOTOR, it was set to feature a new combat system, new graphics, and new writing. It's comparable to Capcom's recent remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3.

The company has spent its lifespan providing development support to studios like Gearbox Entertainment, and most recently it developed a reputation for porting older games to new platforms like PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices.

According to Schreier, Aspyr's developers completed a vertical slice of KOTOR in late June, and the team was apparently "excited" about the project. One week later, Aspyr reportedly fired design director Brad Prince and art director Jason Minor. 

In July, Aspyr studio heads met with employees in small groups to inform them of the delay, and said the company would begin looking for new contracts and development opportunities.  

Star Wars game development has been turbulent lately

Aspyr's KOTOR remake is the second major licensed Star Wars game to be announced, marketed, and then kicked into development hell since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.

Electronic Arts (which had the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games until 2023) quickly put a number of projects into development, one of them being a single-player action adventure game from Visceral Studios. The troubled development of that game would lead to the ouster of director Amy Hennig, and lead to Visceral Studios' closure.

Hennig is now working on an action-adventure Star Wars game at Skydance Media.

Elsewhere, EA struggled with the monetization of Star Wars: Battlefront II. That game's monetization model attracted the ire of U.S. legislators, as its loot box pricing encouraged players to spend money for the chance of receiving powerful in-game content.

A screenshot of EA's cancelled Star Wars single-player game.

The company is still developing and publishing BioWare Austin's Star Wars: The Old Republic, and has a number of Star Wars projects cooking away at Respawn Entertainment, including Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, a sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. In 2020, EA Motive released Star Wars: Squadrons to critical acclaim.

It also released Star Wars: Squadrons to critical acclaim in 2020 and still maintains the live service game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.

The Division 2 developer Ubisoft Massive and Detroit: Become Human developer Quantic Dream are also working on licensed Star Wars games. Both are not expected to be released for some time.

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