Sony announces closure of Star Wars Galaxies

Sony has announced that the servers providing the backbone for its long-running MMO Star Wars Galaxies will be closing their ports for good in December, making room for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Sony launched the massively multi-player on-line role-playing game back in 2003 after a three-year development period. Unlike other titles around at the time, SWG introduced several clever mechanics including non-combat classes and the ability to buy in-game housing that made it a popular title with Star Wars fans.

Sadly, a bungled update in 2005 - dubbed the New Game Enhancement, or NGE - left many players feeling that the heart of the game had been removed in order to make it more appealing to those used to traditional combat-heavy action RPGs. The update was so badly received, many fans opted to run their own private servers reverted to pre-NGE editions.

Sony's decision to close the official servers down isn't just a result of dwindling popularity or the looming- yet delayed - spectre of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic on the horizon, however. The company's licence with LucasArts to use the Star Wars brand expires next year.

"The shutdown of SWG is a very difficult decision, but SOE and LucasArts have mutually agreed that the end of 2011 is the appropriate time to end the game," the companies claimed in a joint announcement on the Star Wars Galaxy forum.

"We are extremely grateful to all of the SWG fans," the announcement continues. "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.

"In recognition of your incredible loyalty, we are extending special Fan Appreciation offers to the current SWG community. We also plan to go out with a bang with a galaxy-ending in-game event in December and hope to see you all there."

The offers, Sony has confirmed, will include free access to other Sony titles between October and December to help soften the blow. With private servers still existing for NGE haters, however, the game could be running unofficially well into the launch of rival MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic.