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The Future Of Star Wars: Galaxies - Is It Back With Disney?

Ryan Easby Updated: Posted:
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When Star Wars: Galaxies first launched in 2003, the MMO presented an intriguing promise to fans of the franchise: be whoever you want to be in a universe at war and make your own character in the Star Wars universe. Over the nextf eight years, Galaxies grew in scope and in player count, but sadly the MMO was closed down in 2011, just before Star Wars: The Old Republic was released. 

Yet the game still survives to this day through dedicated fan emulation servers, such as the Star Wars: Galaxies Restoration Project, with a devoted fanbase still playing the MMO, which leads to the question: should Disney commit to making a new game just like SWG? We spoke to the team behind the project to find out exactly what goes into it, why they think the game has remained so popular, and if they believe there’s a future in the game. 

“We have an incredible team of almost 20 people who give hours of their week to keep this game not only online but also moving forward,”  the development lead of the project, John (who goes by Aconite), explained. He continued,“Our server is focused on taking the best aspects the game has had to offer over its different eras and not just combining them together but building on them to create a unique and fun experience that celebrates the best parts of the game and also makes it fun and worth playing twenty years later.” 

“We’ve invested significant resources into modernizing the client (for example, we’ve just launched beta testing of a 64-bit version), building internal tools and infrastructure to empower our developers and support team, and spend quite a bit of time writing and reviewing design documents to fix specific problem statements we’re presented by the community before they go into implementation.”

John also told me that the team is currently searching for a “Business Intelligence Analyst” to help inform the game's design, which is something not commonly seen within the fan project scene and something that will help guide the project's future beyond its current state. 

Currently, the team is working on implementing five new player specs and the ability to play as a Jedi during the Galactic Empire era. Given the consistently high number of players in the game (John estimates that the game has over “1,000 active daily accounts”, with the record daily active accounts being 3072), that means there are plenty of people waiting for new content.

“We’ve observed a seasonal trend among the population and typically see increases in population and typically see increases in population after major updates and decreases when new titles come out that attract a lot of attention. It’s been an interesting challenge to navigate when it comes to game design decisions because the original game wasn’t really designed for fluctuations like this and relies heavily on player interdependence among social, crafting, gathering, and combat roles.”

While Star Wars: The Old Republic remains incredibly popular (in the last thirty days, the game has averaged over 4,000 players per SteamCharts, which is only one spot where you can play), it is still consistently updated with brand-new content. It’s interesting to note, then, that the fact that a game that is over a decade old and no longer officially supported has around a quarter of that number means that there’s something that players are finding in Star Wars: Galaxies that they’re simply not finding in other games. 

“I’m a big fan of the idea that every game has something unique to offer players. I played Star Wars: The Old Republic heavily on its release and still log in to play through major updates because I think the storytelling and cinematics of The Old Republic are unmatched. I also think Raph Koster’s Theory Of Fun [A book written by Star Wars Galaxies creative director] reigns true today, and there’s demand for highly immersive, open-world, sandbox games where customization is endless and there’s extensive flexibility and social structure,” John explained. 

We’re currently in the age of remasters and re-releases. Games that were released less than a decade ago are receiving rereleases that add new content and update the graphical quality of the game (just look at The Last Of Us Part 2 Remastered for an example of that, then take a look at the sales for confirmation that, despite complaints online, these re-releases do sell). The last triple-A Star Wars game, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, sold incredibly well (while official numbers aren’t available, we know that the game had sold over 30% more than the previous game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, did in its launch week), and love for Star Wars as a gaming franchise is at a high. So, should Disney think about bringing back Star Wars: Galaxies, and have two ongoing Star Wars MMOs at the same time that can appeal to people who enjoy two very different eras of the galaxy?

“While I can’t speak to the commercial interests of Lucasfilm, I think the persistence of a fanbase for this game after two decades - one decade in which the game hasn’t even been live - speaks volumes of its success and should be a lesson to game designers everywhere,” John told me.

“Raph Koster and Richard Vogel, who worked on Star Wars: Galaxies originally, spoke of this not long ago at the Game Developer’s Conference in their Classic Game Postmortem: ‘Star Wars Galaxies’ and I think they summed it up best: ‘If Galaxies was an active title today, it would have enough active users to be in the top 100 titles on Steam, even now, which is just a testament to the passion and dedication of that community.” 

The sheer existence of the Star Wars: Galaxies Restoration project speaks to how beloved the MMORPG is even now, and how fondly an entire group of fans remember the game. With that, and the sheer popularity of Star Wars games in the current generation, Disney should consider re-releasing Star Wars Galaxies in an officially supported form, or at the very least consider making a brand new Star Wars MMORPG that can fill the gap that Star Wars:  The Old Republic doesn’t. 


Ryan Easby