SWTOR delayed to 2012? Two theories why we still have no release date

I sense great fear in you, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Even with pre-orders surging to record levels, the space opera MMO still seems hesitant to announce a release date or even a release year, dithering between late 2011 and early 2012.

There’s a general sense among fans that the whole game is waiting for something to happen, what with top executives hinting at strategic delays and beta tests slowing down this month. Question is, what’s this powerful something that’s holding SWTOR back?

Two theories are emerging: the first involves financial fudging, and the second involves a World of Warcraft beatdown.

Theory 1: Financial Fudging

“We have a date set internally [for calendar Q4], with a lot of assumptions around it. We’re not done until we’re done. … We’re not going to know with enough certainty to publicly announce a release date,” until later this month or sometime in October, EA financial honcho Eric Brown was quoted as saying to Gamasutra.

Mr. Brown goes on to suggest that the game could slip into early 2012 for fiscal guidance reasons, which is codespeak for shifting what could be monumental sales to a more desirable profit quarter. It’s the kind of stuff that concerns accountants and CEOs, asking: “When do we want this big chunk of revenue to come in?”

Theory 2: WoW Beatdown

But for us, the more interesting conspiracy is how SWTOR plans to ruin the BlizzCon 2011 parade this October.

Blizzard has traditionally used their tri-game convention as a launch pad for their latest WoW expansion and patch news. If SWTOR gets dated before the Anaheim shindig, then Blizzard could counter with an even bigger reveal. Maybe confirm Mists of Pandaria as the fourth WoW expansion and totally kill the buzz of SWTOR?

That isn’t as far-fetched as we’d think, given the highly competitive nature of MMOs these days. We’re betting our SWTOR Credits on this theory simply we want to see the fantastic showdown of screenshots and sneak peeks between the two juggernaut titles.