Apparently SOE, makers of Star Wars Galaxies, have partnered (again) with LucasArts to create another MMO in the Star Wars universe. Supposedly this one uses the Free Realms engine and will be aimed at a much more casual audience, and will be set during the Clone Wars period (so much for SOE learning from its previous mistakes).
Here's the news from TenTonHammer:
From time to time we get to hear some juicy tidbits while we travel from event to event. With crowds of adrenaline-pumped gamers, and energetic developers, lots of conversation takes place, and every once in a while we hear something that causes everyone’s ears to perk up.So it sounds like they're making a Free Realms-type Star Wars MMO for casual players. Of course the question is how this would affect the other two Star Wars MMOs, Star Wars Galaxies and Star Wars: The Old Republic, but in truth it likely won't affect it much. After all, it's (probably) going for a very different audience and a very different gameplay experience.
The latest of such incidents: Ten Ton Hammer has learned from an inside source that Sony Online Entertainment has once again partnered up with LucasArts to do another Star Wars MMO. While we have not yet learned the title of the upcoming game, it sounds like SOE is planning to use the browser-based Free Realms engine to power the game, and the game’s setting will be the Clone Wars. Does this mean Star Wars mini-games within the game, like the holographic chess-like game as seen in A New Hope? Unknown, but it would be cool to hit up a cantina with some buds and sit down for a few mini games.
A casual Star Wars MMO property was probably obvious in hindsight. Look no farther than LEGO Star Wars for proof that a fun, stylized version of Star Wars can sell big, attracted kids and adults alike. Plus, there was an unusually large focus on Star Wars Galaxies at this year’s Fan Faire, and perhaps this was in attempt to rekindle the SOE/LucasArts hype.
Too soon? Former and current Star Wars Galaxies players can still remember the sting of the NGE that changed the face of that game for everyone. SOE has repeatedly said that they have learned from their mistakes, and plan to not repeat them. If SOE isn't expressly targetting the hardcore segment this time around, they (unlike BioWare) won't have quite the same initial level of expectations to deal with.
Don't let us give you the impression that SOE plans to take on BioWare, and their highly anticipated MMOG debut, The Old Republic, particularly given the engine the game is rumored to be based on. More plausible is that it will be based off the Clone Wars CGI animated film, offering a more stylized approach to the universe. Free Realms boasts over four million registered players, and a lot of this can undoubtedly be attributed to the accessibility and polish of the web-based engine. The initial download is exceptionally small, as the client downloads content as players explore the world. This formula seems more and more to be a key component to popular MMOGs, if the success of Free Realms and to a larger extent, World of Warcraft, is any indication.
So who’s the target audience of the game? Again, it’s unknown. It’s possible, though quite unlikely, that it will be aimed at a younger audience. More likely it will target a casual crowd of several generations who have had Star Wars ingrained as much into their culture as Burger King and McDonalds.
Though, unless I'm mistaken, I think it would be the first franchise to not only have three MMO, but three MMOs running at the same time.
Remember that it's still a rumor though.