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SWG would have been more successful if it started out as a themepark. Instead it started a sandbox, failed, turned to a themepark, but alienated the small playerbase it had.
In history of MMOs, themeparks have always been far more successful than sandbox games. EQ had more subscribers than UO and far more than Asheron's Call. Then modern times, EVE is "successful", but nothing compared to WoW...and every time a themepark MMO comes out, it starts off with FAR more players than EVE can ever dream of. Likewise, sandbox MMOs that try to launch now never end up doing that great (like Vanguard)
I really think SWG should have started out as a themepark. This would have had far more long term success. But you can't just change the entire genre of the game mid-way through its life. No matter how bad it was originally.
My Skyrim, Fallout 4, Starbound and WoW + other game mods at MODDB: