Earlier this week, LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment said that the long-running Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG will be shut down on December 15 due to the end of the licensing agreement, declining subscriptions and competing MMORPGs. Immediately speculation arose claiming that the decision was based on the launch of a "competing" MMOG from EA and BioWare in Q4 2011 called Star Wars: The Old Republic. Admittedly there's no question that the timing of closing SWG and launching SW:TOR doesn't seem like mere coincidence.
Upset over the announcement, more than 2,500 SWG fans (and counting) launched a petition to keep the virtual world up and running. After it went live, SOE reportedly started locking forum topics and banning players related to the petition. The company later defended its actions by saying that "promoting an online petition causes disruption within the community and does not provide gameplay feedback that our development team can use." The explanation was contradictory to say the least.
The petition itself offers up several options in order to keep the MMORPG alive and kicking: (1) Making the game free to play (2) Making the game free to play, with premium content available for those wishing to purchase a subscription (3) Maintain the Trading Card Game as part of Star Wars Galaxies, and continue to charge for purchases made to the TCG (4) Continue to offer free character transfers from one "Galaxy" (server) to another, while monitoring population levels on each server, to facilitate further server closures in order to reduce operational expenditures.
But apparently the petition isn't enough. VentureBeat reports that several SWG subscribers have written in claiming that they actually filed a class-action lawsuit against SOE to prevent the company from shutting down the game. The lawsuit also centers on SOE swinging it's Ban-Hammer in the forums, and how one player was labeled as the protest "ring leader" and threatened with a permanent ban from all SOE games. Even more, SOE allegedly threatened to sue this specific "ring leader" for trying to cause "unlawful harm to the company."
Naturally the lawsuit won't stand up in court thanks to every single player agreeing to the company's end-user license agreement. Not only does the company have every right to close the MMORPG, but the right to kick troublemakers off its forums. Still, the lawsuit isn't surprising given the SWG drama that's unfolded over the past eight years. Fans have been passionate about the game from day one and will continue to act accordingly long into the launch of Star Wars The Old Republic.
Still, it will be interesting to see how this "lawsuit" unfolds, so stay tuned.... and may the schwartz be with you.