What the NGE destroyed

This video expresses some of the betrayal felt in the Star Wars Galaxies community when the NGE was introduced.

Current players of Star Wars Galaxies often belittle those few veterans who still mourn for the game before the Dark Times, before the New Game Enhancement. That’s because there’s no going back, and they have no idea how much better the game was before.

The best explanation for the sense of betrayal, for why players left the game in their thousands, came in an online article by Allen Varney in “The Escapist”, who pointed out that while Sony Online Entertainment thought they were just tweaking a game that was all theirs to change, to the players SWG had become a community, and SOE messed with the basic structure of that community:

“…To increase subscribers, fix the game. It makes perfect sense – assuming subscribers think they’re playing a game.”

“…On November 3, 2005, SOE stunned players by announcing surprising “New Game Enhancements” that would go live on November 15. Why delay the announcement until two weeks before launch? “There were several other announcements related to the Star Wars franchise going on at the time,” Torres told GameSpy, “so we wanted to make sure that something this big didn’t get lost in the shuffle.”

“As WoW barreled toward 5 million subscribers, SOE launched SWG’s Publish 25. The NGE replaced the combat system with a shooter-style twitch game, reduced the value of crafting and entertaining, and collapsed 34 professions into nine classes. Jedi Knight powers, once obtained only after torturous grinding, were now widely available. Creature Handlers and Bio-Engineers, previously stunted by the CU, vanished.”

“…The launch, like the original game’s, went horribly: awful bugs, broken quests, lag. But these paled beside the main problem. For an unexpectedly huge number of players, the issue – the overriding issue that has burned in their heart down to, lo, this day and hour – was betrayal.

A minority of players liked, and still like, the NGE. But the Betrayed were legion, and they were loud. The official forums filled rapidly with complaints; admins pulled them and perma-banned many posters, who created independent “refugee” forums like Imperial Crackdown.”

“…To dismiss these players as mawkish, to tell them to get a life, misses the NGE’s lessons. These paying subscribers thought they had a life, and a community. Among a certain demographic, the distinction between meatspace and online – between “life” and “game” – grows increasingly arbitrary, like cash vs. credit cards. Having invested time building that part of their life, these players watched SOE, with brief warning and dubious justification, sweep it away.

For many younger players, it was their first encounter with betrayal. And as there is no love like your first love.”

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