Star Wars Galaxies gets flushed…and everybody is surprised?

27 06 2011

“A little naive, I feel.” – Eddie Izzard.

I’d ask that you forgive the possibly unnecessarily unforgiving take on SWG, but if you love it there’s no way you’ll forgive, and if you don’t love it, you probably won’t care. This is, in fact, the most pessimistic article I’ve ever written about anything  video game related. Here we go.

Word on the street is that Star Wars Galaxies – a game I personally found to be fundamentally boring – is closing down come December. I’ve read a few posts this morning that are epitaphs andIn memoriam-style laments. People appear to be upset. To its credit, allowing players to build their own cities is cool in concept, but honestly it’s like virtually every other MMO out there in that it’s grind-tastic. My memories of SWG (which may no longer be valid, but have stuck with me) are things like:

  • Crafting tons of literally useless objects before making anything usable. Think this is realistic, do you? Oh? Have you ever tried carpentry? How many dozens of completely useless chairs did you have to make before one was able to support your weight? Shame you were completely unable to salvage anything from those failed chairs.
  • Taking literally an hour or more to foot-slog anywhere across a planet surface. Star Wars hit the shelves with no space ships and no speeders. This is Star Wars, right?
  • Boring combat mechanics. But then, most MMOs are guilty of this as none of them can really approximate God of War.

To be fair, the last criticism is sort of 1. stupid, and 2. completely unfair. I (and perhaps you) don’t play MMOs to get a God of War type experience. I play them because they do a better job than platformers do of approximating a mage-experience (so many spells with various effects that are not just damage) and I go for the community-thing. SWG did have this going for it, if you stuck with it, built a town, and really engaged in a Second Life-style game environment set during the Empire era. Again, the first two criticisms here are also sort of everybody’s fault; these qualities are not particular to SWG.

Do you know what is particular to SWG? Something that it shares in common with TOR, and that is this: Lucas Arts has its hooks in it. In a predictable move to ensure zero competition between the two titles, they simply shutdown SWG in favor of their new up-and-coming golden child.

A predictable move, sure. A good move? Honestly, yes. Sure all of those SWG peeps will rage once their game is closed (and all the way up to close, and likely for a while after close) and many of them will in fact not play TOR because it doesn’t offer them the same experience. But some of them will play. Some of them that wouldn’t have played because they were still playing SWG and busy with that.

Lucas Arts (and Bioware) has a goal, and that goal is to impress investors with this new investment that they’ve poured a super amount of cash into. To achieve this, they want to maximize their subscriptions. What better way to do this then to eliminate the competition? They can’t close WoW, but they can close SWG.

If you truly will miss SWG, I feel for you. I do. You should appreciate that it’s being closed down in December (after TOR’s release) as opposed to before TOR’s release. Likely the convincing line for them was to “boost post-launch subs”, but maybe – just maybe – they did it because they appreciate their customers.

Yea, I don’t by that either.

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