Is Old Republic the most expensive video game ever?

With the long-awaited Red Tails finally hitting theaters and George Lucas announcing (threatening?) his retirement, it’s obviously a big turning point in the history of Star Wars.

There may be another turning point in Star Wars, as well as video game history with the The Old Republic, which could be the most expensive title ever with a $200 million dollar price tag – putting it in the same price stratosphere as Hollywood blockbuster movies.

The L.A. Times reports that this is a big gamble for Electronic Arts Inc, as the game has been six years in the making. It’s not easy or cheap to make a video game, because it requires teams of people and millions to bring it all together.

As a source told writer Alex Pham, “You hear about RockStar Games as having the richest budgets in the business and spending over $100 million on a Grand Theft Auto game. Star Wars seems to have gone way above that.”

EA swears to the Times that if this game doesn’t make it, the company won’t go down, although this is indeed a big bet. As we’ve reported here on TG, gaming was down last year, even with the mega success of Call of Duty.

But the Star Wars games have also been pretty revolutionary, and as we’ve also reported here on the site, The Force Unleashed was a major groundbreaker that had a great storyline. As it turns out, it was the children of Lucas who took the saga even further once they grew up.

Frank DiGiacomo – who extensively covered the making of Force Unleashed for Vanity Fair –  told TG: “I had never seen a video game put together. To see it done with Star Wars was doubly cool, because Star Wars was pretty big in my whole appreciation for movies and sci-fi / fantasy. They had just put offices at the Presido, and you’d see this whole population of Lucas Arts people that have been so influenced by the whole Star Wars canon, and here they were evolving to. 

“Certainly there were Star Wars games before that, but they wanted to take the whole Star Wars canon and do something new with it. This group of kids in hoodies with their dreams about Star Wars. They had created this whole world, and to watch them putting that together, and the way they did it was fascinating.”

Update: In a recent note to clients, Brean Murray Carret & Co analyst Todd Mitchell wrote that “creeping concerns” about the performance of “Star Wars: The Old Republic” had prompted him to trim his earnings estimates for EA’s 2013 fiscal year. 

“Specifically, initial sales appear to be below expectations, and casual observation of early play is causing us to rethink our churn assumptions,” Mitchell explained in a statement obtained by MarketWatch.