Today, Sony Online Entertainment and LucasArts announced Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, a free-to-play MMO based on the Clone Wars TV show on Cartoon Network. Clone Wars Adventures, as you might have guessed from the license, is a kid-focused MMO, set in that same time period as the show (around Episode 2 of the new trilogy), and powered by the same engine used for Free Realms, SOE's other free-to-play MMO. The game is expected to launch on the PC this fall.
First, between Star Wars: Galaxies, Clone Wars Adventures, and The Old Republic, we will soon have three completely different Star Wars MMOs on the market. There will be more MMOs set in the Star Wars universe than any other franchise in the genre. How crazy is it to think of the MMO as a genre where a franchise can be over-saturated? We'll find out, I'm sure.
Second, this announcement serves as pretty firm evidence that LucasArts is continuing its business relationship with SOE, even as it works with BioWare on The Old Republic. One of the questions that emerged after the announcement of Old Republic was whether LucasArts would allow SOE to keep making/supporting Star Wars Galaxies once the game came out. After all, SWG has spent the past seven years alternating between being a poor representation of the SW universe, an overused punchline, and a PR nightmare. One would think that LucasArts would be anxious to ditch SOE and let BioWare, a company that has proven it can make a successful licensed product, take the reigns of the franchise entirely. However, the announcement of this game reveals that LucasArts and SOE are perfectly content to keep working together. I highly doubt that, in the wake of their ongoing partnership, LucasArts would force SOE to shut down Star Wars Galaxies.
In fact, this announcement suggests that the Star Wars property has been split up into parts and divided amongst the developers; SOE has this Clone Wars MMO license as well as its "Post Original Triliogy" MMO license, while EA and BioWare have an Old Republic MMO license. I would imagine that LucasArts rationalizes the way Star Wars has been broken up by stating that that these are three different games aimed at completely different audiences, hardly competing with each other:
- Star Wars Galaxies, steeped in the lore and design of the original trilogy, appeals to older Star Wars fans.
- The Old Republic, with its Warcraft-influenced art style and its connection to Knights of The Old Republic, is for the 18-to-29-year-olds who weren't alive when the movies first came out. These are the folks for whom KOTOR represents Star Wars and WoW represents the MMO.
- Clone Wars Adventures, with its ties to the show on Cartoon Network and its free-to-play structure, is for younger kids, fans of the TV show and (potentially) the new trilogy, who are much more drawn to free games.
Jeez, I can't believe I wrote that last paragraph; Licenses split amongst developers and different interpretations of properties for different demographics. Can you believe that, at one point in time, Star Wars was a movie franchise, let alone just a movie? Star Wars is now a property, handled the same way Marvel licensed out their characters and groups; hundreds of different interpretations of the property, designed to target different segments of the market. Star Wars is now targeted to different age groups and designed to maximize familiarity with the property. It's not the Star Wars Universe anymore; how can there be "canon" in a franchise that can be so easily redesigned to reach out to a different audience?
I'm not trying to preach or wax nostalgic or anything. This is just what Star Wars is now. It couldn't be further from what the series used to be or what any franchise used to be. This is just how entertainment is made, and the Star Wars story is a good reminder that, as consumers, we are dealing with businesses, and businesses are in the business of making money.
But enough of that nonsense. Clone Wars Adventures. There's a trailer. Here it is!
And here are some screenshots of the game's various modes to boot!
So, folks, are you right in the target demo for Clone Wars Adventures? Which age-group speaks most to the kinds of games you want to play? And do you want to see other franchises force you into a demographic in the same way?