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Star Wars Galaxies: Editorial: Audience Alienation

DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

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.

image 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.

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios



  • qotsaqotsa sioux city, IAPosts: 834Member Uncommon
    Probably the best I've seen this whole deal summed up.

  • kasrakasra umePosts: 33Member
    So true!!!!!!  . to bad Soe/La dont listen to us vets ...
  • FernusFernus Williamsport, MDPosts: 28Member Common
    This is real simple.

    They have lost more players then they have kept.

    The gamble was that they could get more players back with the changes then they would lose players.  They figured if people were going to pay for the game in the state it was, they would pay for it in any state.

    The gamble isn't paying off.  I highly doubt that SWG lasts much more then a year at this rate.

  • korvasskorvass den haagPosts: 623Member
    Despite being one of the masochistic vets who stills plays regularly with ever-diminishing crowds, I can do nothing but wholeheartedly with this write-up.

    Though I'm certain various people at SOE realised and tried to affirm that the NGE was not a good plan. However I believe such people had rank pulled on them. I won't say who, as I don't know.

    All in all, the NGE is an exercise about how not to make changes to a mmo.

  • AhrumaNAhrumaN BudapestPosts: 12Member
    Well said.
    And yes, though the most inspiring moment of the game, when a veteran comes and points you out, the game should offer to teach you how to progress, otherwhise how can you start a game when there are no veterans.
    Only a small amount of people takes the tire to find out things, the most states that the game is boring and contentless.

  • kasrakasra umePosts: 33Member

    If SOE/LA will just give us classic server the devs can play NGE by them self.

  • ToriauruToriauru Gatineau, QCPosts: 18Member
    I think they've alienated a lot of people.  Sad to see.  :(

    URU lives! Mystralia date set for July 29/30 for details.

  • ThourneThourne Lake Station, INPosts: 377Member Uncommon
    Very nicely said

  • AmatheAmathe Miami, FLPosts: 1,756Member Uncommon

    I beta tested this game and played it for 6-9 months after release. This article is right (though there were other major problems).

    Never in my life have I experienced such arrogance as with SOE and SWG. To say they wouldn't listen is like saying the ocean is wet, or that outer space is big. You just can't do justice to the magnitude of the concept  with words.

    SOE is saying things NOW that were told to them in beta by many people, including me. Only back then, they not only didn't listen, they locked your threads as being "unconstructive."

    According to SOE, no matter what people express on message boards, there is always this "silent majority" of players who love everything they do.  That's like saying if there is some axal breaking pothole on the highway, and a handful of concerned citizens call into complain, everyone else LOVED THE POTHOLE. 

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • AhrumaNAhrumaN BudapestPosts: 12Member

  • AhrumaNAhrumaN BudapestPosts: 12Member

    Originally posted by Fernus
    This is real simple.

    They have lost more players then they have kept.

    The gamble was that they could get more players back with the changes then they would lose players.  They figured if people were going to pay for the game in the state it was, they would pay for it in any state.

    The gamble isn't paying off.  I highly doubt that SWG lasts much more then a year at this rate.

    They thought that we are not serious about leaving the game, when we
    threated them with that, now they realised, that we really left... And
    noone came. The reasons are in this article.
  • BigJonnoBigJonno PeterboroughPosts: 10Member
    What makes it worse is that if there ever was a game that needed to stick to its guns, it was SWG. I played the game a couple of months after release and, barring the inevitable problems caused by releasing about six months early, the vast majority of the complaints were from people who just didn't get it. I remember the rallying cry of "please don't let this game be Everquest in space!" It wasn't, it was something completely different and I don't think anyone could have done a better job of recreating an existing setting.

    It seems to me that there are two distinct types of MMO out there. Massively multiplayer online games and massively multiplayer online worlds. WoW is very much a MMOG, it is designed to be played in a certain way and everything is geared to creating a fun playing experience. It's probably why this style of game has so many endgame problems, but that's another topic. SWG was very much an online world. There was no particular goal, you were given the Star Wars universe and could live in it however you liked. The reliance on other players (outside of the normal grouping context) was very indicitive of this. The people who were complaining were those who wanted a game and not a world. They were the ones maxing out their characters and wondering what they were supposed to do next. Unfortunately they were a very vocal group and I think that SWG's downfall is a result of that group being listened to too closely.

  • killingjoke7killingjoke7 Georgetown, KYPosts: 5Member
    I agree with your opinion. I was a regular subscriber that started at beta. I cancelled my accounts long ago. After the CU and profession elimination (BIO ENGINEER and a CREATURE HANDLER), I decided that my time devoted to a game was worth more than what SOE thought it was worth... I currently play 3 other subscription based MMO's and would have been happy to continue playing SWG, but they have changed it SO MUCH from the game that I originally purchased, that I wont give them another dime only to have all my work wiped out again.

  • Wildcat84Wildcat84 Ashland, KYPosts: 2,304Member
    Very well written.

    Clearly after the CUNGE fiasco of the last year and SWG losing half it's sub base (at least) over it NO OTHER MMO company will ever do to their playerbase what SOE/LEC have done here.

    It's just a shame that our once fine game had to be wrecked for the industry to learn that lesson.

    Clearly, to turn this around, SOE/LEC are going to have to give in...  Ditch the NGE.  Give us classic servers.

  • korvasskorvass den haagPosts: 623Member
    Well, if you look real close, SWG is currently receiving 'brand new' patches, and with each one, the game begins to appear more like pre-CU...


  • SpiritCrawlerSpiritCrawler Houston, TXPosts: 157Member

    Originally posted by qotsa
    Probably the best I've seen this whole deal summed up.



    "In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don''t." -Blaise Pascal

  • krakkenkrakken Huenenberg SeePosts: 200Member
    excellent article!
    swg RIP - Amen

  • zoey121zoey121 s, TXPosts: 926Member

    Very well written and some great points as well.

    Though not all bad, it did have some positive affects as well.

    There are universities that offer gaming development as a course line as well as business ethics classes a case study for dos and don't do's for years.

     It offered other deveolpers a classic what not to do in their release of their up coming projects

    Side efffects that were un intended is that players that left in discust had a cross over soe hate for other soe titles and possible hands on of soe example; vanguard out rage when it was announced soe would be background publishers

    Those that left also had a hard time finding a replacement game and in some cases left the mmorpg genra' completely ( or at least untill other then clone style game play was offered ) .

    It allowed players to see early in beta if a project would ever be worth while of their time, and commitment.

    example ; irth , dark & light

    Also a poster boy on game fourms in different games , as a warning to developers of other games what happens to your community if you follow in soe foot steps of ignoring your player base

  • nthnaounnthnaoun newport news, VAPosts: 1,438Member
  • viadiviadi huddersfieldPosts: 816Member

    its a shame that the drive for more customer drove everyone involved (vets) away and killed what could have been what wow was had only they thought about the game rather than the cash we would not be having this conversation today

    nice story and well wrote thanks

    Tin Foil hats dont work.. its all a conspiracy

  • ClattucClattuc Alphaville, DCPosts: 163Member

    This excellent editorial is one of the few times I can remember MMORPG.COM showing some backbone when it comes to Sony.  Long overdue and well done.  Of course if it had appeared on the SWG Forums it would have been deleted as unconstructive and not "fun" :)

    The sad fact is that although many other gaming companies will learn important lessons from the SWG debacle, SOE themselves can't see it and won't learn.  They had no plan and no clue; they still have no plan and no clue.  Some day the unit will be shut down, broken up, and/or sold to another company, with all new management.  Only then will the SOE Curse be lifted.

  • auntisocialauntisocial Seattle, WAPosts: 120Member

    Thank you for this very fine article. 



  • dulceneadulcenea Austin, TXPosts: 18Member

    Very well said.

    I don't know why nearly everyone but the SOE brass can see and understand that the CU2 was a bad idea (over the planned rebalance) and that the NGE was a disaster, and that the best way to fix the hate is to give the people (CUSTOMERS) what they want.

    I played from beta through the first two years but when the CU2 came out, the addition of levels to my beloved SWG was the deal-breaker for me. Right now I'm not playing any MMORPG because nothing appeals to me enough to spend the money and time on. And I'm certainly never giving SOE my money for any other game again after what they've done to SWG and their customers in these last years.

    And yet, if they were to bring back pre-CU and give us the orginally planned rebalance, I have to admit that I'd be back in the game in a heartbeat. With bells on.

    *sigh* When will SOE ever learn? My fear? Never.

  • freethinkerfreethinker evansville, INPosts: 775Member Uncommon
    that opinion was both star warsy and iconic. well done. 


  • DaveydjeDaveydje CannockPosts: 12Member

    Originally posted by Amathe

    I beta tested this game and played it for 6-9 months after release. This article is right (though there were other major problems).
    Never in my life have I experienced such arrogance as with SOE and SWG.

    Yeh... the arrogance drove me away eventually too. I left initally because of that... stuck my head back in for the CU... left... Then again for the NGE... and left for the last time... Theres only so much a person can take... only so many times you can get slapped in the face, before you decide the relationship isn't worth it...

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