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Star Wars Galaxies

Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (SWG) is a Star Wars themed MMORPG for the PC developed and released by Sony Online Entertainment in conjunction with LucasArts Entertainment on June 25, 2003. With several hundred thousand subscribers, it is one of the most popular MMORPGs in the United States.

With a Star Wars license and veteran designer Raph Koster at the helm, expectations among gamers ran high during the development of SWG. Many industry professionals expected that these forces would push the subscription numbers past the one million mark, a feat accomplished only thus far in Asia by MMORPGs such as Lineage. As development wore on, the release date was delayed, features were cut, and Sony removed mention of the planned Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions.

After release, the developers continued working on the features cut during the delay. In November 2003, two of those most anticipated features, creature mounts and player-created cities, were enabled. Also, on November 7, 2003 it was announced that the first player had unlocked a Force-sensitive character slot needed to become a Jedi.

In the game, players choose a profession, from bounty hunter to musician. Through the use of a "skill point" system, players can only master a certain amount of professions. Professions are designed to be interdependent, where, for example, a commando can kill things quickly but might need a doctor's aid, should a combat medic enter the scene. In addition, the Galactic Civil War aspect of fighting for the Rebels or Galactic Empire enters the scene. A survey of the official message boards, however, reveals that several players are unhappy with current implementations. Indeed, game reviews have lamented bugs and broken features that have plagued the game.

SWG has been noted for its vibrant economy--as of Dec 2003, the demand for SWG credits has been stable, with one million credits going on eBay for about $10 USD. Of course, SWG receives a monthly shot in the arm in terms of real-world money, with players paying $15 USD for the privilege of playing the game.

Star Wars Galaxies currently has an expansion in development which will allow the player to traverse or battle through outer-space in ships of their choosing. The "Space" expansion also plans to add new worlds, playable species, non-player characters, creatures and more. It is scheduled for release in 2004.

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