In an effort to manage capacity on the day the MMO launches, Electronic Arts has capped the number of physical and digital copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The actual figure is unknown, but once it's reached, no more will be sold until EA can add server capacity to accommodate more players.
Gamasutra yesterday got the publisher to confirm and clarify an earlier report of limited availability. "We are limiting launch quantities of Star Wars: The Old Republic to ensure players have a smooth and high quality game experience and service at launch," an EA spokesperson told Gamasutra. "All versions of the game — physical and digital — are available for pre-order on a limited basis only. Once they are gone, they are gone."
What this will mean, effectively, is that digital downloads over EA's Origin service will be shut off. Physical copies, if you can get your hands on one, are still good after the digital shutoff.
Last month we heard rumors that pre-orders of the MMO would be capped at 500,000, with only the first 50,000 of them guaranteed, the rest queued in a prioritized waiting list.
MMOs can be victims of their own success, as past experiences have shown. In 2009, a "head start" program promising early access to Aion was overwhelmed by more than 400,000 preorders, leading to queue times stretching past seven hours. In February, Rift saw a similar situation, scrambling to add capacity after early-access users battled wait times of three hours before launch.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is due for a holiday 2011 launch.