Bioware and EA today announced the release date for its new massively multiplayer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The launch is set to  take place just before the Christmas holidays on December 20 in the US, and two days later for gamers living in Europe.

The game is set thousands of years before the events seen in the epic film franchise, and it has already been confirmed that players will be able to customize their characters. More interestingly, those playing the game will be able to  visit some of the locations that star in the films, including Luke Skywalkers home planet, Tatooine.

"The pre-orders have been going exceptionally well. It’s the fastest selling pre-ordered game in EA’s history," Ray Muzyka, Senior VP of EA and co-founder of its BioWare label said during his presentation at the Eurogamer Expo.

The new Star Wars title is reportedly EA is most expensive game ever created, costing millions of dollars, but with pre-orders exceeding 200,000 copies in the last week it looks to become an overnight bestseller competing against other established MMO games like World of Warcraft.

BioWare founders, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk chose the Eurogamers Expo at Earls Court, London to announce its release date and provide exhibition-goers an opportunity to see more information about the game. The European Expo is the last chance for game developers to announce release of products in time for Christmas and New Year. As well as EA's announcement, other big attractions included Fifa12, Skyrim, Battlefield 3, and Modern Warfare 3.

Pricing has been set at either $14.99 per month, $41.97 for 3 months ($13.99 per month), or $77.94 for six months ($12.99 per month). This places it in the same price-point as WoW, Rift and Eve.

BioWare has also invested in a new call center in preparation for the imminent launching of the game. The new site marks the first presence the company has outside of the US, and is located in County Galway, Ireland. The new facility will provide 24-hour support to those purchasing the new Star Wars title, creating 200 new jobs locally.