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LucasArts / SOE Austin
MMORPG | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 06/23/03)  | Pub:Sony Online Entertainment
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:$19.95 | Pay Type:Subscription
System Req: PC | ESRB:TOut of date info? Let us know!

Editorial: Audience Alienation

Posted by Dana Massey on Jun 13, 2006  | Comments

Editorial: Audience Alienation - Star Wars Galaxies -

As anyone who visits our boards knows, the Star Wars Galaxies community has been vocally speaking out against the NGE and other changes to that game over the last year. Kevin Tierney jumps in to examine the alienation of that community in this editorial.

There probably has been no MMORPG that has caused more controversy than Sony Online Entertainment’s (SOE) Star Wars Galaxies. It’s core game has been fundamentally altered twice, and debate has still been very intense, even six months after the latest revision, the “New Game Enhancements.” (NGE) While one can look for varying reasons as to why such changes were made, one is obvious: people, from LucasArts representatives Nancy Macintyre and Julio Torres, to numerous developers, all the way to the head of SOE John Smedley himself have argued that the changes were necessary to truly attract a crowd worthy of Star Wars. I believe this approach is flawed for numerous reasons.

One problem the MMO market is that it is currently experiencing what I call “The WoW effect.” When World of Warcraft was released to stunning success, it redefined what a successful MMO was. Before this, 500,000 customers of an MMO was a very respectable number. Right before the first changes (i.e. Combat Upgrade) SWG reportedly floated at around 300-350,000, again quite respectable pre-WoW. The release of WoW caused SOE/LucasArts to radically alter the originally planned “rebalance” to an “upgrade” that not only incorporated many of Blizzard’s features, but also added a ton of bugs to boot. SWG was simply not compatible with a linear style WoW gameplay. Those who wanted WoW’s features were already playing WoW, without the bugs. While the CU had overall mixed results, one thing was clear, subscriptions were down.

You can read his full opinion here.