After the leaked information in a special collector’s edition of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, publisher EA have decided to go all out early and have enabled gamers to pre-order from not one but three different versions of the game.

You’ve got the choice of the “Standard Edition”, the “Digital Deluxe” and the big fat all-singing, all-dancing “Collector’s Edition”. For a comprehensive look at what each version of the game gives you, here’s EA’s own site listings of the contents of each different version.

Looks good to have that kind of choice, right? Well here’s the kicker, they’re all freaking expensive.

After scouting around the torturous pre-order process (more on that later) here’s the lowest price I could find for each version of the game:

  • Standard Edition: $59.99 (Gamestop)
  • Digital Deluxe: $79.99 (Exclusive to Origin)
  • Collector’s Edition: $149.95 (Amazon)

While this was the best offering at the time of writing, cheaper options for the standard and collector’s editions may well emerge from the woodwork. One reason why it’s hard to nail down exactly which retailer’s have the cheapest version is that there have been listings removed and other assorted shenanigans amongst the long lists of retailers put up by EA who are supposed to be accepting pre-orders.

Frankly, the preorder launch looks like a hastily thrown-together mess.

The issue isn’t limited to the US. The UK pre-ordering process is riddled with similar problems. Rock, Paper Shotgun has a summary of the torturous process and the even steeper prices (exchange rate wise) faced by Brit SWTOR fans.

The Australians have it even worse; Origin pre-orders aren’t available in their region.

What gives, EA? With a hefty monthly fee attached, even new and freshly stamped MMOs are supposed to be a little more affordable than this. It seems that the 300 million dollar development of The Old Republic has encouraged EA to tack on a whopping great price tag from the outset.

Does this suggest that EA are less than confident in the game’s ability to attract, and more importantly, hold the attention of the MMO gaming crowd in sufficient numbers to make a commercial success? Could the severely steep pricing represent a scramble to recoup the development cost while hype remains high?

It could simply be that EA believes this to be the price that gamers are willing to pay. They may be betting that the long development time has whetted the appetite of Star Wars gamers to such a razor sharp point that the price will not seem so unreasonable.

However, if EA is so desperate to encourage the adoption of its new digital distribution platform Origin, a high pre-order price and a $5/£5/€5 pre-order fee is definitely not the way to do it. All of EA’s talk in the past few weeks about “setting up a lasting relationship” with its customers through Origin is looking ever more laughable in the face of some pretty shocking pricing decisions.

If this is supposed to be the honeymoon period of the relationship with Origin, I’m already looking forward to the divorce.

UPDATE: It turns out that Origin customers who have actually pre-ordered the game had the pre-order price of $5 taken off the total cost of the game, so the standard edition still comes to $59.99. While I’m glad that this is the case, EA should have made it clear that the $5 isn’t actually an additional charge. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the prices of the three different editions, they’re still sky high.