Why Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 3 Is Never Happening

Knights of the Old Republic is basically my favorite RPG series of all time. I grew up playing the original, surviving Taris, winning my swoop bike race after an afternoon of save-scumming and killed more Krayt dragons than you can name. Believe me when I say that I wish I could play a Star Wars Knights of the old Republic 3 game. But you know honestly, it is not going to happen. Let’s begin the post with a little bit of insight for those of you just coming to the series.

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic is an RPG series published by LucasArts. The series has 2 official single player RPG games. Knights of the Old Republic, (the first game) came out in 2003 to an incredibly good reception. Audiences loved the first game and to this day the videogame still has a huge, dedicated fanbase, which at this point can’t even be called a cult following anymore. The subreddit for the series still has over 80,000 followers. For a game that came out in 2003 for the original Xbox that is pretty insane and a testament to the popularity the game has.

“we got quite a bit of traction… we wrote a story, designed most of the environments/worlds, and many of the quests, characters, and items.”

John Stafford, Lead content writer for Star Wars: The force unleashed

The second game was not quite as well received and upon release was labelled as ‘incomplete’. It was clear through playing the game that there were features in the game that were seemingly implemented but never came to light. Certain dialogue choices and character stories eluded to planets or areas in the game that just didn’t exist at all. A ‘rushed development’ was concluded to be the case of this missing content. As the Christmas period drew nearer, the publishing company wanted to get the game out as soon as possible for the Christmas period and capitalize on the success of the first game. A fantastic case study on the game located on a blog post here discusses Knights of the Old Republic 2’s rushed development in more detail. Please, if you do get a chance give it a read as it has great insight into publisher deadlines and development team crunches. The crunch is very clearly evident as the sequel managed to be released the following year after the first kotor was released. This is insane, especially considering that the two games were made by 2 completely different developers. (The first game was developed by Bioware, however Knights of the old Republic 2: The Sith Lords was developed by Obsidian).

Was a Knights of the Old Republic 3 game ever in development?

There are a few sources here and there that talk about how a Knights of the Old Republic 3 was in the works. Some good sources at that. John Stafford known for his work as a lead content writer in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, was apparently the lead writer of a Knights of the Old Republic 3 that was in development back in 2004. John Stafford had this to say about the games development:

“we got quite a bit of traction… we wrote a story, designed most of the environments/worlds, and many of the quests, characters, and items.”

News surrounding the games development is seemingly under wraps as after the project was cancelled nothing else deemed to come of it. No reports, no press statements. It seemed like EA was just moving along to other projects and focusing on other IPs.

In an article posted by Videogame news site vg247.com, they talk to Chris Avellone, Lead Designer for Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords. In the interview the reporter asks if there was ever a story planned for Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 3. Chris responds that there was in fact a pitch of a very interesting story planed out, which had the player following the footsteps of Darth Revan and encountering even stronger Sith lords. Have a read:

“The third game involved you, as a player character, following where Revan went and then taking the battle to the really ancient Sith lords who are far more terrifying than the Darths that show up. These guys would just be monsters. These would have a level of power that was considerable, but at the same time you’d be able to dig more into their psychologies, and their personalities, their history, and even how they dealt with the player, how they talk with the player, the different powers they cultivated and developed, and for some of them like – they’re the ancients, so they’re not just ruling a solar system, [but] swathes of the galaxy.” Chris Avellone when talking to Kird Mckeand for vg247. You can read the full article here to see the full text. Please do. It really is a good read.

Concept art of the unfinished game Star wars knights of the old republic 3
Taloraan: Concept art from the cancelled knights of the Old Republic 3 project [Image courtesy of https://starwars.fandom.com/]

In the years following Knights of the Old Republic 2’s release it seemed as though nothing was happening in the way of Star Wars IP. Until later on in 2007 we started hearing rumors that Bioware had started hiring people to work on a Sith Lords spin off game. This generated quite the stir at the time as fans of the series had been left hanging off 2 fantastic RPGs and wanted more. This later turned out to be development for the Star Wars MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. (Abbreviated to swtor). This MMO game once again saw the Knights of the Old Republic IP being back in the hands of Bioware. Published once again by EA The Old Republic was set 300 years after the events of the original RPGs and includes all of the canon established by the games. References to Revan and the older games can be found throughout the MMO sequel including his full outfit.

A few Jedi and troopers stand together in this screenshot from Star Wars The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic has had it’s own success following the single-player RPGs

Single player RPG fans don’t want an MMO?

Many fans were disappointed with Star Wars: The Old Republic and felt that the games MMO prioritizing left many of the stories and quests feeling ‘shallow’ and ‘grindy’. The videogame features planets established through the Knights of the Old Republic canon such as Taris and Korriban. It also features an alignment system, much like the first 2 videogames, with the ability to not just have one driving story. In the start of the game you create a character based on a few different classes and choose an alignment, light or dark to go with it. For example you may pick a Sith Marauder, or a Republic soldier. Opinions are divided on the class stories, many saying that some of the class stories live up to the standard that Knights of the Old Republic set where others fall short. Like the first 2 games in the series swtor also has companions that can join you on your adventures and have their own branching stories. Does that make it Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 3? Well yes and no. Technically the game is a sequel to the series, providing a continuation of the story in the same universe. Although the game does have some pretty decent reviews (currently 4.5 stars on Google, 89% positive reviews on Steam) , it isn’t really the single player turn based story that fans fell in love with. It just isn’t. White the game is fun in it’s own right and actually a blast to play with friends, the subscription feature to unlock the entire story and the player homes and customization just isn’t what fans wanted.

Fans to the Rescue?

trooper looking at a star map in Star wars Apeiron
Cancelled Star Wars Knights of the Old republic reboot screenshot

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Apeiron was a fan-made project by Poem Studios taking the original game and updating it’s graphics and gameplay to a more updated level. The project saw a complete overhaul of the game while still staying true to the story. This included using a completely new engine, new graphics, sounds, models and everything. The project developers were streaming their work regularly on Twitch and were making decent headway on the game. Unfortunately development was ceased as LucasFilm sent the company a cease and desist letter essentially ending all development on the game. The team always knew this could happen at any point in the games development and mentioned that during their time working on the mod. The team knew the risks but thought that the project being technically a ‘mod’ of the original game would be allowed to continue under fair use. Poem Studios said that being a mod of the original game, that players would have to have an original copy of the game bought genuinely with a cd key to be able to use their modification. You can see some small footage of the project before it was cancelled, uploaded by YouTuber MrMattyPlays here:

Poem Studios released the full letter they received on their Twitter. The letter concludes that Poem Studios use of Star Wars branded logos and property is infringing copyright laws. Their are arguments to be made about fair use in terms of videogame fan-made recreations and modifications but it is a losing battle. How is a small studio with the support of a few hundred fans going to compete with a multi-billion dollar company like Lucasfilm, (now owned by Disney). This isn’t the first time fan-made game projects have been sent cease and desist letter due to copyright infringement. There have been a lot of Pokémon projects shut down due to fair use and Nintendo is fairly strict about anybody using their IP without the company’s consent. Whether you agree with their policies and actions or not, it is what it is.

Is there a future for Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 3?

There may be a small spark of hope, should there be an audience for it. In recent years in gaming, we have seen the focus slowly start to fade off single player RPG games as online multiplayer games started to gain a greater audience. Call of Duty remains one of the most sold video game franchises of all time. Call of Duty’s Wikipedia page has a total of over 300 million copies sold. It seems the focus of video games these days are getting more corporate. Why waste time hiring writers, mo-cap equipment, voice actors and everything for a fully fleshed-out single player RPG if the market is just not there for one? In an article written by venturebeat.com, Fifa 20 reached over 10 million players. So for the company to actually pick the series back up and develop it there would need to be a sufficient market to make it happen.

Steam banner image for the game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
A successful single player Star Wars game in today’s market?

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a single player story based adventure game developed by Respawn Entertainment. Though it isn’t exactly Knights of the Old Republic 3 it does have similarities. In the 4 months after the games’ release over 10 million copies were sold worldwide. This tells us that there is still in fact a market for single player Star Wars games. Critics and players alike praised the game on it’s story and adventure. It really feels like a Star Wars game and a lot of users were thrilled to finally experience another single player Star Wars story.

In 2018 Aspyr ported Star Wars Knights of the old Republic to Android and iOS devices. This saw a new market emerge for the game as the game looks great on the smaller screen. Images are less janky than the PC counterpart and the model look overall just a bit better when you can see them on a big screen. The game has over 500,000 installs on Android and that is no small figure for a game that came out in 2003. Aspyr is also very soon releasing their port of the second game in December 18th, 2020. I covered this story in a post last week and am very excited about it personally.

A robot named HK47 holding 2 pistols next to a jedi with 2 lightsabers
The Sith Lords is a fantastic sequel to a fantastic game

Perhaps if the mobile port of The Sith lords gets enough attention EA will think about setting their sites on a Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 3? Personally I would absolutely love to dive back into the story of the old republic. Hear what happened to Revan, Malak and the rest of the game. I have called Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic my favorite game of all time and no one is keener than i am to see this sequel happen. Unfortunately i am not really sure if the market is there for a single player turn-based RPG but hopefully with the recent uprising of all things Star Wars and especially the extended universe stories i hope that EA will change their mind and give us Star Wars Knights of the old republic 3.

What do you think about a Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 3 game? Do you think The Sith Lords was a great sequel to the first or do you think more could have been done? What features would you like to see in a Knights of the Old Republic sequel? Let me know in the comments below your thoughts.