Star Wars Galaxies, an MMORPG once greeted as a potential contender for "one of the biggest games of all time," will go offline in December, creator LucasArts announced this week. Reps for the company said Galaxies would exit the gaming universe with a bang – some sort of major but as-of-yet-unspecified December event is planned – and apologized to users left hanging in orbit by the sudden closure.
"We are extremely grateful to all of the SWG fans," reps for LucasArts wrote in a statement posted to a Star Wars Galaxies message board. "We have had the rare opportunity to host one of the most dedicated and passionate online gaming communities and we truly appreciate the support we’ve received from each and every one of you over the course of the past eight years."
Released in its first iteration in 2003, Star Wars Galaxies garnered a whole lot of hype – see the hyperbolic quote at the top – but generally left reviewers disappointed. "[T]he gameplay is generally slow and uneventful, and that once the novelty of the Star Wars setting wears off – and it probably will – there isn't much of interest to be found in the game at this point," one critic opined at the time.
Still, the series quickly surpassed 100,000 registered users, each of whom paid a monthly fee to play Galaxies. In an exclusive interview over at Massively, John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment, downplayed suggestions – aired elsewhere on the Web – that the shutdown was a direct result of shrinking in-game populations or the recent SOE breach.
"The decision to shut down SWG is first and foremost a business decision mutually agreed upon between SOE and LucasArts," Smedley said. "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." The entire interview, which is very much worth reading in its entirety, can be found on the Massively site.