On the heels of some pretty bad press coverage (Washington Post, CBS, etc.) and the cold hard facts that focus groups just don't like the changes to Star Wars Galaxies I have something to say. Letting SWG die is the best thing that could happen if you are a Star Wars (and MMORPG) fan.
It is unlikely that SOE would let SWG die, but it is very possible that they will rollback the NGE. Rolling back the NGE would be a toss up to whether the game could survive. My guess would be that any major change would completely alienate any remaining fan base and possibly push Lucas Arts to pull the license.
I am not an expert on licensing, but I couldn't imagine Lucas Arts letting the Star Wars name be dragged through the mud by the national media much longer. Lucas Arts was a driving force behind the changes to make the game more "Star Warsy" and I doubt they are pleased with the results. So I will blame both SOE and Lucas Arts for the current state of the game. Afterall we know Lucas Arts had to sign off on moving the timeline forward and allowing Jedi to appear all over the place.
So what does this all mean for the Star Wars fan that is still looking for the game where they can experience the Star Wars universe in all its glory? If SWG was to die it would be very possible that the license for a Star Wars themed MMORPG could be up for grabs. That is a tempting prospect for any MMORPG developer with the current state of the market.
World of Warcraft has proven there is a market for MMORPGs that extends beyond just Everquest's 500,000 subscribers. In fact it extends far beyond that. The market is global for MMORPGs that want to support a huge development cost. While Star Wars is a global name it is unknown what sort of following a Star Wars game would have in the heavy gaming countries of China or Korea. World of Warcraft is one of the only games to really succeed in both the East and West.
What I do know is that a new Star Wars MMORPG would generate a ton of buzz. First of all there is SWG that has a few years under its belt that has taught us a lot about what the gaming and Star Wars communities want out of a game. We know that space flight and combat, action inspired gameplay, and Star Warsy"ness" are all required. We know there isn't people lining up to be Moisture Farmers. We also know there is plenty of wannabe Jedi in the galaxy.
A new Star Wars MMORPG should have a pretty solid understanding of what to build. It would be an exciting development period as SWG critics, SWG fanbois, Star Wars fans & critics, and MMORPG fans all battle to get a game that will bring the excitement that the Star Wars films and MMORPGs have brought to millions of fans. Star Wars galaxies is better dead than alive.