I spent last weekend trying to decide the best way to end it all — in Star Wars Galaxies, that is, which we learned will be shutting down in less than six months. Star Wars Galaxies was and is a brilliant sandbox game, which I loudly proclaimed in “The Uncle Owen Paradox” Soapbox rant column just two days before I sat down to talk to Smedley for Massively to hear the awful news. For the record, crow tastes terrible.
We’re calling it a sunset, but maybe it’s really a sunrise. When you only have six months to “live,” you have to prioritize your activities, and you’re freed up to do things you couldn’t or wouldn’t before. I have a list of things I wanted to see and do before the end, like set up a base for my guild when it returns for the end-times events, maybe work out a small plotline, check out the new dances, tool around in my YT-1300, zip through the recent themeparks, and finish off my Ithorian medic (go Ithies!). Primarily, I mean to craft a whole crapton of stuff. SWG’s crafting is unsurpassed, so play with it while you can — now I have an excuse to use those top-end resources I used to hoard, too afraid to use them. How liberating! Of course, I used to craft food and armor and droids to sell; I’m an unrepentant market-PvPer. Nothing is selling now, so instead, I’ll give it away for next to nothing. Might I be tanking the market for “real” crafters? A month ago, yes. Now? What market, exactly? The money means nothing. We’re giving up the condo life and all our flaming worldly possessions. Why not make some noobs or nostalgic returning vets happy? What else am I supposed to do with billions of credits and resources and rares that will blink out of existence on December 15th?
Still, I can’t help but feel a sense of deep sadness at the loss of the game, not just for me but for the genre — like when an underappreciated prodigy dies too young. We’re all robbed of what could have been.
The SWG drama was counterbalanced by the good fortunes of another of my top three MMOs, one that released less than a year after SWG itself: City of Heroes. Last week, Paragon Studios announced it is taking CoH free-to-play in one of the more palatable Western conversions I’ve seen to date. I had some suspicions along those lines, given the recent store sales, Freedom server stress-test, and the success of the booster packs, but I had just as many fears that the game would be sunsetted itself. NCsoft is not known for letting average games linger on, and I worried that Going Rogue might be the game’s last hurrah (especially when so many Paragon employees were reportedly laid off after the expansion’s launch). Instead, I’m forced to praise NCsoft’s vision to stick by an older game that doggedly triumphs in spite of multiple superhero competitors. Someone at NCsoft must love the hell out of the game to have first pumped money into an expansion six years into the game’s life and now pump more money into massive overhaul-cum-conversion. I’m sure it’ll make money, but I’m not sure NCsoft wouldn’t make more money doing something else. That sort of dedication to unique IPs and long-term investment into the game isn’t seen much. SOE’s EverQuest franchise ranks up there, I suppose. Those games seem to have never-ending development and expansions.
But LucasArts hasn’t got that vision. In fact, it’s being terribly reckless with its fanbase. LA is taking me for granted, and that’s irksome. I will still buy SWTOR; most Star Wars fans will. But I’ll love it a whole lot less, and I’ll be much less inclined to live and invest in that game now that I know LucasArts will cavalierly and heartlessly strip licenses from unique and profitable games on a whim. In eight more years, it’ll be EA’s turn, and I don’t want to be the sucker mourning SWTOR.