Online Games News arrow Star Wars Galaxies arrow President of SOE Responds to Criticisms 26 March 2023  
President of SOE Responds to Criticisms E-mail
Monday, 30 January 2006
John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment, the company behind Star Wars Galaxies, posted on the official forum a reply to the community on the thousands of complaints about the New  Game Experience, the infamous big patch that completely changed the SWG on-ground gameplay.
Hello Everyone,
Obviously the NGE has stirred up a lot of strong feelings among the SWG playerbase. There is no denying these changes have upset some of our players. While I can certainly understand and respect these feelings, I assure you we approached them with a longer term strategy in mind and with the best of intentions. That strategy is to lay the foundation for a longer term vision of the game that will keep people playing for the long haul. Yes, many of our long time players are upset... and we do understand why. We're not sitting in our offices thinking of ways to upset our paying customers.. we're trying to bring Star Wars Galaxies to a broader audience to make sure that it's viable for the long haul.
Many of you ask "Why did you have to make such a sweeping change rather than just fixing the things that were wrong?" - well, to put it bluntly - everyone had different ideas of what we needed to fix. Trying to balance 34 professions, and add compelling content to make everyone happy proved to be a very large challenge. Many design decisions made early on in the game's creation were boxing the team in to the point that we were never going to be able to really make this game rise to the level it needs to as both a great experience AND as a business.  We have consistently kept the SWG team as one of the largest teams within SOE (around 70 people). Even with a team that size getting new content done along with maintaining the live game, along with developing new systems for SWG just proved to be tougher than it should have been. We've got a lot of experience doing MMO's, and SWG has always proven to be the game that was the toughest for us to make changes to. So, along with our partners at LucasArts we did a very lengthy look at just what the fundamental issues with SWG were. We spoke to many of you, read the forums and conducted numerous focus group tests with both existing players, people who have played MMO's before (but not SWG) and people that haven't ever tried MMO's before.
The consistent feedback we recieved through this research showed us where the problems were. Here are the top 3 issues:
1) Difficult to get into - too complicated. People didn't understand what all the professions were, and the interface was just plain hard.
2) Combat wasn't exciting enough
3) Game wasn't "Star Warsy" enough. The professions issue also showed itself here.
In order to make the changes neccessary we examined just what we would have to change, and quickly came to the realization that reducing the number of professions was the single most important thing we had to do. Many of the professions overlapped and when we looked at what would make a really fun Star Wars style game, we came up with the profession list that's in the game now. Equally important to making SWG a viable game in the long term was addressing the fact that combat just wasn't fun enough. I recognize that some of you will disagree here - and I hope you can recognize this is a very subjective thing.. but the research we did was extremely clear on this point - the old combat system wasn't up to snuff. We tried different things and landed on the "fast action" style of combat that's in the game now.
We couldn't make changes of this magnitude without changing some things that people loved - creature handlers for example are among the most upset. This was an example of something that was near and dear to people (including myself btw). It's one of the coolest parts of the game. It's one that's only gone in the short term - we'll be bringing it back in a different form in the near future once we work through the consequences of how we can make this core system work within the new framework. It won't be a profession in and of itself, but something people  can do as part of the existing professions.
One last thing I'd like to discuss in this explanation is the business end of things. Many of you question the logic of the decision to do this NGE.. stating that many of the existing players will quit because we're changing the game so much. From our standpoint we have to look at the game for the long haul. EverQuest is will be 7 years old on March 16th. We HAVE to think that long-term. With the game the way it was we knew we would never be able to attract enough people to really keep SWG viable as a business. It certainly would have kept some portion of our existing playerbase for a good long time, and we would have put out new expansions and new content as well as fixing bugs.. but it wouldn't have appealed to the really large Star Wars fanbase out there.. and frankly over time the existing userbase would have churned out as happens in any game like this. We just didn't have the game we needed to have if we're going to really grow this userbase. It might surprise you to know that after the first combat upgrade, we actually added new subs. We took a step in the right direction, but it just wasn't enough. So what we're doing here is obviously risky.. we're betting that we can make this game a whole lot more fun to our existing userbase AND make it appealing enough so that we can grow that userbase in a major way. Right now I think it's fair to say we have work to do on both ends. I hope you understand that we absolutely value each and every player. You pay the bills around here, and that's not something we are forgetting. None of us like seeing people cancel..If you think this change is about "acceptable losses for a bigger goal", that's simply not the case.. nor is it how we view things. We have a clear plan to make this game a whole lot more fun,  for everyone.. and that's the gamble we're making.. that we can pull this off and get you, our players to help us make this the Star Wars game we all want.
And that brings me to the really important part of this post - the path forward.
The Path forward
The real purpose of this post is to ask for your help. In this thread, could you please list the top issues you see needing to be addressed in the short term. Any big problems from your perspective - what's really keeping the NGE from being a postive thing from your perspective. We will be watching this thread carefully and taking notes, and posting an ordered list of stuff we'll take care of (and we'll try to say how quickly we can do it as well). Please keep this thread on point. We have to move forward - asking us to pull the NGE out isn't going to be productive. If you really want to help, here's your chance.
From our perspective, we're focused on the following:
1) Fixing actual bugs
2) Adding new skills to differentiate the professions much better, and particularly the advancement path (i.e. making cool new skills the higher you rise through a particular profession).
3) Working on making crafting a much more important part of the NGE.
4) Cool new content - particularly focusing on the Galactic Civil War
As for the future expansions.. we have a lot of ideas (wouldn't it be cool for a guild to have a Star Destroyer?)... but for now we want to focus on what YOU want us to focus on. So please add a lot of constructive thoughts to this thread and let us respond by taking care of as many issues as we can.
A few loose ends -
I would like to specifcally address a few consistent things people have been emailing me - No, we aren't making these changes in order to bring SWG to consoles. This is simply untrue. Noone is working on an Xbox 360 or PS3 version of SWG (Or PS2, Xbox or PSP), nor is one on the drawing board. Would that be cool someday? Sure... but it's not on our radar at all.
Unfortunately we also can't put up a pre-NGE (or PRE-CU) version of SWG. That would require us to support 2 separate versions of the codebase and we're just not able to do that. We couldn't simply put up a version like this unsupported.. what if someone found a really bad exploit?
Thanks for taking the time to read this.. and please join in giving as many constructive ideas as you can (preferably in a list form ordered most important to least important).
John Smedley
President, Sony Online Entertainment
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