The Dark Side has won. It was never as popular as World of Warcraft, but Star Wars Galaxies had something that the king of MMORPGs didn't: The Force.
Galaxies used the power of the Star Wars brand for eight years, an eternity in the games space. Unfortunately, those days are almost at an end. In December, the game will suffer the same fate as Princess Leia's home planet of Alderaan. It will be terminated.
Now before you start writing an angry letter to George Lucas, remember that this sort of thing happens all the time. Eventually, even the most beloved online games go to that great arcade in the sky. Such is the fate of Galaxies. The game, which launched in 2003, has seen its share of success and problems (many of them technical). Some might argue that it never fully lived up to its considerable potential, but the game drew millions of satisfied players. Web searches on the game quickly blasted into hyperspace on the news of its cancelation.
The formula was as follows: Players created a character based on one of eight Star Wars species. Players then "pursue adventure, fame, and rewards by building power within their chosen profession, which includes Jedi, bounty hunter, smuggler, officer, trader, entertainer, and others that fans have seen portrayed by characters in the movie series."
What does that mean? Well, for players who chose to be bounty hunters like Boba Fett, this meant tracking down other players online and collecting (in-game) rewards for their efforts.
A common misconception may be that the game's users are jumping ship for something new. Not so. In an interview with gamer blog Joystiq, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedly, whose company handles the game's online components, remarked that "populations have stayed pretty steady for a long time now."
The reason has less to do with flagging interest and more to do with contracts and, more interestingly, a new Star Wars game on the horizon. "LucasArts has a new game coming out, and the contract would be running out in 2012 anyway, so we feel like it's the right time for the game to end."
Yes, there is a new game. Fans of a galaxy far, far away will get to start fresh when the long-anticipated Old Republic game hits servers. The game doesn't have a release date yet, but for those who dedicated their online lives to Galaxies, we're sure its replacement can't come soon enough.