No New Hope: Star Wars Galaxies Closing

By Alec Meer on June 24th, 2011 at 10:28 pm.

Actually, that looks amazing

A long time (well, eight years) ago in galaxy well, right about here, SOE launched a Star Wars MMO. It was… odd. To say the least. It was also extremely beloved by a significant few, thanks to being something of a sandbox with complex and ambitious features such as player-made cities and pet Rancors. WoW and its many followers might be a whole lot slicker than Galaxies, but they just can’t hold a candle to its crafting and virtual economy. Sadly, an attempted relaunch as something more action-centric in 2005 made the dwindling Galaxies faithful love it a little less, and subscriber counts have continued to drop since then.

It’s amazing it’s kept going for so long, quite frankly. But now, its Jedi will return no more – Galaxies will close for good on December 15, 2011. Many Bothans died to bring us this information.

Like all things Star Wars, it is course getting a sequel in prequel’s clothes – Bioware/EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic is due to arrive sometime in the not-too-distant, although a concrete release date continues to elude us. Is that the reason Galaxies is closing down, or just strange timing? Hard to say – SOE aren’t especially in the habit of closing down their olden MMOs, despite fairly low audiences – the likes of Vanguard, both Everquests and Planetside are still operating, for instance. Another possible smoking is Sony’s other Star Wars MMO, the kiddie-orientated Clone Wars Adventures, but that’s hardly likely to be attracting Galaxies devoutly hardcore players.

Here’s the letter that went out to players a little earlier today – notice the reference to Lucasarts being involved in the decision to have the game go gentle into that good night, which could support wild theories that this is so as to not confuse matters come SWTOR.

We write to you today to inform you that on December 15, 2011, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and LucasArts will end all services (MMO and Trading Card Game) for Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). The shutdown of SWG is a very difficult decision, but SOE and LucasArts have mutually agreed that the end of 2011 is the appropriate time to end the game.

We are extremely grateful to all of the SWG fans. We have had the rare opportunity to host one of the most dedicated and passionate online gaming communities and we truly appreciate the support we’ve received from each and every one of you over the course of the past eight years.

In recognition of your incredible loyalty, we are extending special Fan Appreciation offers to the current SWG community. We also plan to go out with a bang with a galaxy-ending in-game event in December and hope to see you all there.

You can no longer buy a subscription for longer than a month at time, all billing ceases at the start of October, active subscribers come September 15 will be able to play the last months for free, and pro rata refunds will be given to any players whose paid-up sub time exceeds the remaining lifespan of the game. So hopefully it’s going out all neat and tidy and doing right by those who loved it.

Oh, and subs will be given three months of free, fully-paid-up game time in any one of Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, EverQuest, EverQuest II or DC Universe. More details here.

No word on what the game-ending event will be yet, but it’s bound to be worth watching. Wonder if my account’s still valid?

Farewell then, Galaxies. You were always a bit of a mess – but you were also one of the most fascinating and ambitious MMOs there’s ever been.

Update: Massively’s interview with SOE’s John Smedley suggests the closure is down to their license from Lucasarts expiring in 2012 and both sides feeling it’s not worth renewing – although the impending arrival of SWTOR is also referenced as being a factor.

, , .

63 Comments »

  1. MCM says:

    Hmm. Seems likely TOR won’t come out much before Dec 15, then. That might even be a clue that TOR will open Dec 15?

    • runtheplacered says:

      “Hmm. Seems likely TOR won’t come out much before Dec 15, then. That might even be a clue that TOR will open Dec 15?”

      No, not at all. SOE and EA have nothing to do with each other. I seriously doubt EA gives a crap at all. And there’s almost no chance this game would come out on December 15th.. that date doesn’t really make any sense.

      Right now, all signs are pointing to roughly a late Aug, Sept, or, early October release.

    • thegooseking says:

      I don’t know about that. I’m getting the impression it’s more LucasArts’ decision than SOE’s, despite claims that they “mutually agreed” to shut it down.

  2. Premium User Badge

    dartt says:

    I’m oddly sad to hear this despite not having played with SWG for many years.

    It was an odd beast that lost it’s charm (after they polished some many rough edges that there wasn’t a lot left of it at all) but I had some of my best MMO experiences running around in that game.

    • J-snukk says:

      I had my best experiences full stop in SWG. What a behemoth of a game, I’m nto sad to see it go now however, as for me it died a painful and pointless death with the Combat Upgrade, the NGE being the final nail in the shit covered coffin :(

    • Mayjori says:

      NGE killed it for me :/

      SWTOR isnt going to even come close to the scope of SWG, not to say it isnt going to be good, but part of what made SWG so awesome, was the sandbox nature of the game, where as SWTOR is just another re-skinned WoW type clone. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably play SWTOR, but its not going to even be remotely sandbox-like.

  3. Gravy says:

    I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

  4. laddyman says:

    I didn’t know that this game even existed anymore, much less had a subscriber base of any number.

  5. obowersa says:

    A shame to see it go. Despite the mess of NGE, the game has come leaps and bounds since then.
    The advantage of having a very dedicated developer and a relatively low number of players. Despite all its flaws, it achieved that same level as planetside, ultimate online and eve when it comes to player orientated stories.
    As for December the 15th, the answer is simple ( and not that TOR is released that day.)
    The contract for SWG from Lucas Arts lasts until 2012. It doesn’t make business sense for either company to look at renewing the contract.

    • dontnormally says:

      Can someone sum up what the “Combat Update” and “NGE” did that was so baddy?

    • Brun says:

      One of the big complaints I always hear is that the updates (NGE I think) made it so that attaining Jedi status – which thus far had been incredibly difficult – relatively easy. Basically it trivialized a lot of the things that had formerly been considered status symbols.

    • dontnormally says:

      This awesome forum thread where they try to string-up a single designer on the NGE team, who them calmly responds, rules:
      http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/1230753#1230753

      He should be an RPS moderator.

  6. Bhazor says:

    I will always love Star Wars Galaxie for one thing and one thing only.
    And that is the story I heard about protesting players being teleported into empty space by the admin.

    This is because I just know that is exactly what I would if given control of an mmorpg.

  7. Bostec says:

    I remember someone from PCgamer writing about this, camping out a rare gas node or something that appeared. A real shame, was a real sandbox before the NGE came out.

  8. Akike says:

    I don’t really know. Sounds like a bit more harsh than usual ToR marketing.

  9. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    It would be nice if they’d release the server software for the pre-NGE galaxies under a GPL license (or some other license that only allows free usage). Not that I’d play it a lot, but I would like to be able to revisit the old game some times, for study and inspiration.

    • Bhazor says:

      Free….?

      Did you miss the word Lucasarts there?

    • Wulf says:

      They could always keep an agreement alive enough to sell server license bundles, post and pre-NGE.

  10. Maktaka says:

    “We also plan to go out with a bang with a galaxy-ending in-game event in December and hope to see you all there.”

    Invasion by Yuuzhan Vong. INVASION BY YUUZHAN VONG.

    I don’t care if it’s anachronistic, I just want one bloody Star Wars game with Yuuzhan Vong in it damnit!

    • Bhazor says:

      Never heard of him
      Googles
      .
      .
      .
      “OH MY GAWD! WHATS WRONG WITH YOUR FAAAAAACE?”

    • MrBRAD! says:

      Bhazor, that reference has made my week :D

  11. Rii says:

    “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

    <3

    It's always sad to see an MMO go. In a sense MMOs die all the time, in that you can never return to the game as it was those years ago when you were wide-eyed and bushy tailed and the community was thriving and not entirely jaded and the devs hadn't made those Awful Changes in That Terrible Patch, but still there's a poignant finality to switching off the servers that brings it all home.

    I didn't call SWG home, but for those who did, my condolences.

  12. The Great Wayne says:

    This is just the last nail in the coffin.

    Pre-NGE SWG, we miss you so much…

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I feel bad for Raph Koster. He designs a wonderful sandbox MMO which is loved by the intended audience, and after a couple years The Powers That Be decide to ruin it by making it just like everything else. Happened with both UO and SWG. His ambitious creations crapped up by people who just don’t get it.

  13. Myros says:

    Havent played for years but sad to see it go. A source of good memories and the first time I became a ‘millionare’ in a game as a gun smith called ‘Stinger Wolfen’ … fun times, until they killed it.

  14. President Weasel says:

    I can remember when Vanguard was a new upstart MMO, siphoning players away from my WOW guild. Come to think of it, I can remember when Everquest 2 was brand new. I had a weird sense of deja vu for a place that never existed, when I went back for a couple of months over the winter.
    All those levels, all those dungeons, all those hours put into characters I cared about at the time and will never go back to now. All those … moments will be lost in time, like tears…in rain.
    (Also something about attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, since it seems like an apt quote for SWG).

  15. Johnny Lizard says:

    Never played it… but I heard they held a beauty pageant and they let the Wookiee win.

  16. RakeShark says:

    I guess they went back on their promise of “So long as people are playing SWG, we will keep the servers going” in the wake of the SWTOR MMO announcement.

    Heh, no surprise there.

    • Dozer says:

      Well if they stop people from playing, then no-one is playing SWG and therefore it is OK for them to close the servers according to that statement…

    • edrick says:

      This had more to do with LA than SoE. SoE has kept Vanguard up, and we all know what a piece of crap that is.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Driveshaft says:

    I wasn’t a big fan of the combat, but I did like the community interaction and world exploration in SWG. The space-flight addon (Jump to Lightspeed) was awesome too. I wish I could play it single player – whether you were shooting down TIE fighters or flying one, it was a hell of a lot of fun.

  18. Noterist says:

    Gotta make the money, credits no good, when a Jawa’s running shop in yo’ neighbourhood…

  19. Snuffy the Evil says:

    Pity too- I was always enamored with Galaxies, but unfortunately I only managed to play it after the NGE update which I believe a lot of people think generally made the game awful. There are supposedly several private servers being developed with the aim of bringing the game back to its previous state, but I don’t know what’s up with that right now.

    It’s a pity The Old Republic looks more like StarWOW than Star Wars.

    • Fiatil says:

      SWGEmu is actually in surprisingly decent shape. The mobs are sort of buggy but 95% are killable, and the community is going pretty strong. Of course updates to the code are slow slow slow in coming, but its in a playable state.

  20. Mr_Initials says:

    Bothans really got to stop dieing so much. They should try to be more like the alderaans. … wait…

  21. Bodylotion says:

    There are 2 MMORPG’s I played a lot. One of them is WoW but before WoW there was Star Wars Galaxies. I’m not completely sure why i liked SWG but the things i do know is that it had so much atmosphere and character. You really felt at home in the game unlike many other MMO’s. Besides that the graphics were pretty amazing for an MMO back then. Building towns, socializing, crafting and selling stuff and ofcourse the Star Wars universe made this game one of the best MMO’s ever (in my opinion).

    After the NGE patch the game got ruined. Instead of making the game better the game was total garbage, I don’t understand why they just didnt bring back the old SWG. It still survived for quite a long time and I hoped it would be released on steam for free but sadly that will never happen.

  22. tehfish says:

    Galaxy ending event: Jar jar binks gets stuck in a cloning machine, the binks horde invades :o

  23. Fierce says:

    Meh. Preemptive player base migration to SWTOR as a sensible reaction to some analyst’s internal report about market cannibalization.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  24. Doth Messar says:

    *RIP* That was an amazing game. It is and always will be better than any of the other MMOs. Sure, other MMO’s had their little perks and they certainly ran better, but SWG brought something unique to the table that other MMOs didn’t. Didn’t matter if it was CU, NGE or pre-CU. Spent an enjoyable year and a half on there. Tempest server, United Kingdom Imperial Guild.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Daiv says:

    SOE owned SWG and Planetside.

    Why was SWG not Star Wars Planetside?

  26. johnpeat says:

    I think the only thing you can say is “not before time” really…

    That said there are a tonne of MMOs which could follow it into oblivion and are unlikely to so I guess the players won’t be terribly happy.

    Still – life is brighter when you have a deadline – make the most of that, SWG players – then try a game which isn’t a series of kicks in the head.

  27. runtheplacered says:

    Is the header image Star Wars: Empire at War?

  28. xGhost4000x says:

    Wait, so what game is that up there?

  29. frenz0rz says:

    What a shame.

    Long before I first played WoW (or indeed, before it was even out) I was considering giving SWG a go. I remember reading in PC Gamer about one of the writers owning a struggling droid sale/repair shop on the outskirts of a large town on Tatooine. The business wasnt too successful, or even that exciting to play, but it was his business damnit. Reading that was the first time I ever considered that the universe did not have to revolve around the player – that you could just be one small cog in a gigantic galaxy, living out a completely unique experience with one of countless professions, on one of many worlds. I still wonder what my first MMO experience might have been like had I chosen three years of SWG, instead of WoW.

    Of course, then the whole debacle around NGE completely put me off. I didnt WANT to be a ‘famous’ jedi fighting alongside Han Solo or Luke Skywalker. Thats not a unique experience. I wanted to own my own little droid shop, one tiny landmark amongst thousands, and craft my own experiences.

    What a shame.

    • grimwwr says:

      Good lord, I think what you said sums up SWG as a whole Pre-NGE. I don’t think any one could’ve said it better and that if Lucasarts or SOE saw how many people had the same exact feelings about SWG, that it would still be the thriving galaxy it was 5 years ago.
      I made more memories on SWG than any other game, met and kept in contact with more friends than any other game, and most importantly put countless hours into a unique character that was ME. I never ran into any one in that MMO universe was just like ME. That was the great thing about it. RIP SWG

  30. Bart Stewart says:

    I’m also sad to see SWG go. Rich Vogel and Raph Koster got dinged for (it was claimed) caring more about “creating a world” than about “exciting gameplay.” I even criticized SWG myself for not feeling enough like Star Wars.

    Even so, it was the world that drew me in and kept me interested because it was broad enough to allow me to create my own gameplay. The reconfigurable skills-based ability system (rather than the fixed-class system of later MMORPGs) made it possible to explore the game’s content in the way that was the most fun for you as an individual person. And if you happened to enjoy crafting, SWG’s resource system was a little piece of game design brilliance — people still praise it, and rightly so.

    Unfortunately (if you see things the way I do), from Day One the post-launch development team seemed to hate the worldiness of SWG, and dedicated itself to punching up the combat content over anything else. The Combat Upgrade and even the New Game Experience were simply the final realizations of that belief system. (This isn’t just idle speculation on my part; I put together a 3500-row spreadsheet of every documented change from 1.0 to the last stuff before the NGE, categorizing every change — and “killing people and taking their stuff” definitely got the most attention.)

    Hence the Great Exodus. After the SOE Death Star demolished the world in which they had invested their energies, the SWG Refugees fled into the MMORPG Galaxy seeking a new hope, a new gameworld that was equally satisfying if all you wanted to do was craft, or explore, or just watch a sunset in a world filled with other people. EVE Online wasn’t it — the constant threat of PvP was a dealbreaker. Seed never got there. Star Trek Online, which had promise, was revealed to be just another kill-’em-and-take-their-stuff game based on the Champions Online codebase. Minecraft rewards exploration and crafting, but it isn’t an RPG and has no science fiction setting. A Valley Without Wind seems to offer worldy features, but has turned more to fantasy and won’t be an immersive 3D place.

    It’s possible that some day some developer will build a MMORPG that “gets” what was great about the original SWG and provides it in a high-quality universe. (It probably won’t be a major developer, what with publishers seeming to believe that only the Path of WoW is worth funding.) Until then, I believe the SWG Refugees — those who haven’t given up on MMORPGs entirely — will continue their search for a homeworld.

    Help us, indie developers — you’re our only hope!

  31. bill says:

    Frickin Bothans…

  32. Leelad says:

    Sad to see it’s passing, My first venture into MMO’s the size of it all at the time was something I had never seen in a game.

    No endgame raids back then…we just had the farming of sand people and PvP to keep us paying our cash when the skills had maxed out.

  33. ntigo says:

    I joined SWG with my brother right before/as the combat enhancement patches came out. We had never played an MMO together (I considered it a waste of money, but he loves them). As we left the town to explore the countryside we spotted a character at a campsite on top of a hill. I thought it was a quest, or some kind of NPC ambiance. It turned out to be a Wookie Master Ranger who had set up camp–set up a damned camp with fire and tent and everything–after doing a bit of hunting. He invited us to join him by the fire.

    I had never had a game experience like that before. To be able to set up a home, any home, wherever we wanted. It made the whole planet ‘livable’. I’ll never forget that. We ended up joining his guild, and we got a tour of their town. Regrettably, it was a ghost town by the time me and my brother joined. Nevertheless it still maintained a ‘lived-in’ charm, as if the residents merely came back on holidays. We met the mayor/local artisans/quest givers and then spent the rest of our time enjoying the relatively easy XP (SOE was giving lots of double/triple xp in a bid to keep players).

    But the last memorable experience I had in SWG was when my brother and I re-spec’d to master bounty hunters. After a painful amount of work to get a contract on the same person (thus letting us tag team the mark) we set off to a planet where the mark was in ‘jedi training’. My brother on his speeder and I prone, hiding in the tall grass, we intended to herd him into my view for a quick kill. As he emerged from the fog my brother brushed alongside him and expertly herded him in my direction. As he retreated towards my position I could feel the hair on my neck stand up, this was what i re-spec’d for. This is what i spent all that time and money on a sniper rifle to DO.

    And the plan went perfectly, except for the quick kill part. My stun shot was deflected by his lightsaber. Something i knew could happen, but still caught me by surprise when it did. The same went for every other style shot. Once in a while we’d get something in edgewise but we ended up chasing him all the way to his own town where he promptly ran inside a small shack (The game wouldn’t allow us to enter, even though we were ‘on the hunt’) and logged out.

    Even though that defeat was certainly disenchanting, everything up to that point was absolutely stellar “one-of-a-kind” experience. It reminded me of why I play games. I deeply appreciate the designers who put a system in place to allow my brother and me play out our fantasies of Brother Bounty Hunters, if even for just a few hours. I’ve yet to forget it. And even though we unsubscribed shortly thereafter (with no regret), I still think fondly on those memories and hope for a game in the future where I can once again see a waving figure against the horizon, asking me if i’d like to sit at their campfire and share a snack of cooked womp-rat.

  34. TormDK says:

    I had great fun in SWG during my stay there, and I to this day wonder why we don’t see some other developer “borrow” heavily from the crafting and social aspect of the game and port it to some other setting. Because there has been no rival to SWG since then.

    Eve might be able to lift up the sandbox part in a few years once their new avatar system works out the kinks.

  35. Tei says:

    SWG is like the BIGGEST ghost town of the MMO world.

    There is *literally* valleys filled with empty houses that use to have some life.

  36. Very Real Talker says:

    it’s funny how swg looks better than the old republic

  37. Betamax says:

    I have so many fond memories of my time spent playing SWG that despite not having played in years now, this is still sad to see.

    It really was never the same after the NGE hit though. I remember thinking people were a bit silly about the combat upgrade that preceded it, making a mountain out of a molehill and such, and enjoying quite a lot of the changes. However the NGE was something else entirely, it felt like it stripped a huge amount of the games soul away, and frankly SWG was just not a good enough game at it’s core to survive without it’s charming eccentricities.

    With that said it did do a lot of things right, and in my opinion even better than most MMOs that have come since. The sandbox element is just one part of that, but a big one, and I wish another big MMO would try it’s hand at it – player cities and all. It always seemed like a system that just needed a bit of refinement and it would be perfect. Looking at the way LotRO handles a similar element for example and it doesn’t even come close.

    So yeah, you will be missed SWG, but mostly for who you used to be and for the potential you never quite attained. Oh and your quirkiness. Ironically this will probably be enough of a catalyst to get me to reinstall and resub for a month or two just to say a proper goodbye. I guess if I sub at the right time I can get those extra couple of months for free anyway.

  38. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    And Ultima Online still soldiers on …

  39. sharpy1888 says:

    My first MMO experience and till this day even with rose tinted specs remains unbeaten for sheer fun and ability to do anything..

    The crafting
    Creature Handler
    TKM/Smug/Pistols
    Grinding Jedi for 6 months and then NGE came in a week later (not such a great memory!)
    Cantinas
    Houses
    Player Cities

    sigh….RIP SWG

  40. Kaje says:

    As a long time SWG player, I’m gutted. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into the game and there’s not a single other MMO that comes close to giving players the freedom and tools to RP (player controlled ships, housing, economy etc.).

    I most certainly won’t be playing SWTOR (Essentially a single player game that requires a subscription fee? No, thanks.) as it doesn’t come close to offering the same experience. Even the ships are the same per class, no housing, no real customisation options to speak of ….. just poor.

    Hopefully, the SWG Emu project will pick up pace and offer an alternative for those who enjoyed the game for what it was – a sandbox that offered a freedom like no-other.

  41. Sunjammer says:

    I rather liked SWG. It’s certainly a unique game with its own take on how things should work. Or at least it was one. Running a corp with a bunch of buddies and building a whole town over time was an incredible experience, even if the meat and potatoes of the game were a bit dysfunctional.

    I’ll take an SWG over a WoW any day.

  42. Gothnak says:

    2nd most read story on the BBC website has a link to RPS, good work chaps!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13925263

  43. Wyrm says:

    SWG was one of the best, and one of the worst. Still have many fond memories. I hope TOR has even a tenth of it’s atmosphere.

  44. ArcherShadow says:

    Doth Messar – I was in UKIG too, Master Doctor Stivin. After all these years, when I think about Tempest I still feel like a refugee :-(