The sad fact about MMOs is that they all have an expiry date. Aging software is only sustainable for so long until a game is completely over-run by its competitors. It’s also hard to keep a consistent number of players both populating and investing in a world over several years. Even the once seemingly invincible World of Warcraft has seen a tough year with a major decrease in subscriptions.
With that in mind, Sony Online Entertainment announced recently that it would be letting go of four of its MMOs in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventure and Wizardry Online. While all of the titles had several years of operation to their name, Wizardry Online, which in 2011 started an open beta in Japan, has been live less than a year in the west.
For players who had put hundreds of hours into some of their characters, this obviously comes as a huge blow. SOE’s director of global communications Michele Cagle released a statement (via Polygon) about the closures explaining the situation to fans.
At Sony Online Entertainment, we are always evaluating our portfolio to ensure we’re providing players with the best gameplay experiences. At times, as part of this commitment, we have to make the difficult decision to sunset a game so we can refocus our resources on other areas in the best interest of our company and player community.
SOE currently runs hits such as Planetside 2 and DC Universe Online with the much discussed EverQuest Next (which was revealed to be coming to PS4) on the horizon. These cancellations appear to be business driven as the publisher is looking to free up resources to make room for current and new MMOs.
On that note, SOE president John Smedley has hinted that a new MMO is on its way filling up some of the publishers new found space. During a Reddit AMA, Smedley stated that:
SWG (Star Wars Galaxies) PLAYERS – OUR NEXT GAME (not announced yet) IS DEDICATED TO YOU. Once we launch it… you can come home now.
EA currently holds all the rights to Star Wars video games, so granting SOE permission to make this Star Wars MMO face off against Star Wars: The Old Republic was always slim. That didn’t stop speculation though as fans speculated that Star Wars Galaxies could be relaunching. Smedley came out to cool discussion over Twitter confirming that the game had nothing to do with the Star Wars IP.
just to clarify a point I made in my AMAA – we have a new game that I think SWG vets will like. It’s not a new Star Wars game at all. – John Smedley (@j_smedley) January 27, 2014
There is no indication what the new game would be, but from Smedley’s comments it seems that while the content won’t be Star Wars based, it will share traits with Star Wars Galaxies. Exactly what traits those are are currently unclear. The discontinued Star Wars MMO featured space travel, the ability to found new cities and elect mayors as well as live out professions. Judging on how moldable EverQuest Next is looking, it’s perhaps not unrealistic to assume a reprisal of some of these traits could be coming in the unannounced MMO.