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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!

Trading Card Game Overview

Star Wars Galaxies System Focus - By Jef Reahard on October 07, 2008

Trading Card Game Overview
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Pure Sabacc?

With the debut of Sony Online Entertainment's Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game, many players, veterans and padawans alike, were left scratching their collective heads at the fork in the road for the oft-maligned semi-Star Wars title.  While Sony's Austin, Texas-based development team was testing and tweaking the much-hyped Hoth heroic instance, Sony (and presumably, partner LucasArts) was busy farming out the creation of an online trading card game to its Denver-based studio.  

While many a disgruntled Galaxies vet will no doubt see a conspiracy to further tea-bag the player base, the reality is actually much less sinister.  Sony is doing what companies do, namely trying to maximize profit and squeeze every last drop of revenue from a product that has performed well below expectations.  While the entire enterprise carries the distinct odor of Real Money Trade (RMT), particularly the redeeming of rare loot cards for in-game exclusives, you can't fault SOE for trying to make a fast buck, and the title has already garnered a sizable forum community that seems to be enjoying the experience. 

The card game itself can be played from within Star Wars Galaxies proper (via a menu button or the /tcg command), or via a stand-alone client accessible from Sony's desktop launch pad software.  The game is only played online, there are no physical cards (sorry, collectors), and prospective players who are not currently subscribing to Star Wars Galaxies will need to fork over their hard earned real-world credits for starter decks and booster packs.  Current Galaxies subscribers receive a free starter deck and five booster packs at the outset, and five additional booster packs per month. For those not versed in the world of customizable card games (think Magic: The Gathering, except with digital cards only accessible on your PC), the play experience consists of a one versus one match (against a human opponent or the proverbial 'computer') in which the victory conditions entail completing four quests before your opponent, or defeating his avatar in combat.  Each player brings a uniquely customized deck to the table, which consists of item cards, ability cards, tactical cards, unit cards, hero cards, and more, all working together to best the opponent and collect phat lewt in the form of rare cards which are then redeemable for items inside of Star Wars Galaxies.

The game, subtitled Champions of the Force, is heavily influenced by Sony's Legends of Norrath card game, currently accessible through Everquest and Everquest II.  Darla Freeze, SOE-Denver associate producer, explains that the "Star Wars Galaxies TCG is developed by SOE-Denver and the same team that created Legends of Norrath. We're treating the Legends of Norrath engine the way you'd treat any game engine, which is to say it's not precisely the same game, but a lot of the technology, the back end, and all that we've used before, and we're using that as a foundation for building out the Star Wars Galaxies TCG."  Translated, Champions of the Force equals major profit, both because of its low development cost, and because it is designed to encourage players to keep shelling out for booster packs.  Gotta have that rare Sith Speeder to spirit your pre-CU Jedi to and from the hair care parlor of his favorite Image Designer?  It'll cost you; if you're lucky you may get it in your first few boosters (at $2.99 each), but there's no guarantee that it won't take you fifty packs and several hundred dollars to score the desired item.

Since the irony of no-trade cards gracing a trading card game has been batted around the Galaxies forums ad nauseam, we'll keep their mention here brief.  Suffice to say that the annoying mechanic leaps from the Galaxies servers to the Champions of the Force play field, as only those cards you've bought and paid for are tradable to other players (freebies for current game subscribers are character-bound, as are the loot rewards they generate). 

Ultimately, while the new Galaxies card game appears relatively harmless, it does lend a certain crass flavor to the game that was heretofore absent, even with the well-chronicled trials and tribulations experienced by players over the course of the title's five turbulent years.  While it is just a (virtual) card game, it feels very much like RMT, and one can't help but wonder if a Galaxies Station Exchange server is in the works.  Sony is clearly unhappy with the revenue generated from the base game, and while the new card game might make for an amusing diversion when you're stuck at the office and unable to devote your full attention to flying your X-Wing or raiding Exar Kun, the question of whether or not this card game was really necessary, at least from a player's point of view, seems to be a resounding 'nope.'