The Think Tank: Happy birthday, Star Wars Galaxies

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the launch of Star Wars Galaxies, an MMO whose untimely sunset at the end of 2011 continues to make sandbox fans sigh mournfully. This week, in honor of the anniversary, I asked the Massively writers whether they think we'll ever see another new Star Wars MMORPG (other than those we still have, of course), let alone another epic Star Wars sandbox. It's time to speculate!

Anatoli Ingram, Columnist
@ceruleangrey: I think it's highly likely that there will be another Star Wars MMO in the future because it's a huge IP with endless opportunities for games. Another sandbox? Probably not. When SWG was first released, MMOs were breaking new ground, but now that they're more established I have a hard time imagining a big IP like that taking the sandbox route. Sandboxes require a certain amount of trust between developers and players and the willingness to believe that players will find fun in their own way if given some tools and left to their own devices. Would the holders of the Star Wars IP be willing to put the brand on a game where the Star Wars Experience™ couldn't be carefully directed and controlled? I doubt it.

Bree Royce, Editor-in-Chief
@nbrianna: I think we're bound to see a new Star Wars MMORPG with the transfer to Disney and the new movies on the way. I don't think a new Star Wars MMO has much chance of being a simulation/economy-centered sandbox like SWG or a gank-centered sandbox like most others, but sandbox features are making a comeback in limited doses as the genre rediscovers itself and devs reinvent mechanics pioneered almost two decades ago. I'd like to think that at some point the AAA studios in our industry will stop cranking out middling themepark clones and take a hard look at the stickiness factor of classic sandboxes (not just the creativity of retro construction/destruction sandboxes). Star Wars may have gotten me into SWG, but the sandbox kept me there.

Eliot Lefebvre, Senior Contributing Editor
@Eliot_Lefebvre: Will we see another Star Wars MMO? Well, the one that's currently out seems to be doing all right for itself, and pretty much every game in the franchise makes stupid amounts of money, so that seems like a sort of foregone conclusion. It's not a question of "if" but of "when." And I'm sure we'll have another round of people wailing about it compared to every previous game and gnashing teeth over whether or not it lives up to expectations, bitterness if/when SWTOR shuts down as a result, and so forth. I, for one, am unconcerned.

Jef Reahard, Managing Editor
@jefreahard: I'm sure there will be another SW progression grinder. That combo is a money-printing machine even if the product is average or worse. I'd be very surprised if there's ever another sandbox, due to both the cost and the silly but prevailing sentiment among SW fans and gamers in general that they have to be the hero, the One, or the savior of the galaxy in every single title. And broad appeal aside, would another SW sandbox even be worth anyone's time? Given the way feature deficiency is king in modern MMOs, it would more than likely be simplistic and inferior to SWG in every way except for the visuals.

Larry Everett, Columnist
@Shaddoe: I am more than certain that EA is at least in early talks about another Star Wars MMO. With the number of new movies coming out -- not just the main ones -- It would be silly not to capitalize on that. There is a Boba Fett movie and a young Han Solo rumors. I just hope they have a better idea what they are doing the third time around.

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the most caring of the carebears, so expect more than a little disagreement! Join Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and the team for a new edition right here every Thursday.

This article was originally published on Massively.