Star Wars Galaxies was the first ever massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe. Developed by Sony Online Entertainment and published by LucasArts, the game ran from 2003 until 2011.
Set between the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) allowed players to create their own unique character and explore the galaxy in a true sandbox environment.
Many still consider Star Wars Galaxies to be of the best MMOs ever made thanks to its wide variety of complex systems and emergent gameplay. These experiences offer a level of immersion that is unmatched in both modern MMOs and Star Wars games alike.
Star Wars Galaxies’ official servers were shuttered long ago, but even before then players were keeping the flame alive on rogue servers (sometimes also referred to as private servers or emulators) such as SWGEmu. Over a decade after that shutdown, there are now a whole host of options for players wanting to either relive their time in the game or experience it for the very first time.
While getting into the game isn’t quite as easy as hitting install on Steam, it doesn’t require too much time and effort once you know how.
Where can I find a copy of the Star Wars Galaxies discs?
Remember when you had to put actual CDs into your computer to install a game? If you want to play Star Wars Galaxies in 2023, most servers will require that you have a physical copy of the game.
If you played the game back on the live servers you might still have your copy stashed away in your garage, or if you’re like me, proudly displayed on your shelves. If that isn’t the case, then you’re going to have to go shopping.
Unfortunately, it’s rather unlikely you’re going to find a brand-spanking new copy in your local retail game store (if your town or city even still has one of those). It’s possible that a nearby retro, used goods, donation, or thrift store may have a copy, but your best bet is to find a copy online.
Amazon and eBay should be your first port of call, but as the game has been out of print for many years you may have to prepare yourself to hand over a fair bit of cash. You will find however that some versions of the game are cheaper than others.
Which version of Star Wars Galaxies should I buy?
Between its launch in 2003 and the shutdown in 2011, the game was re-released in several different versions. Any physical copies of Star Wars Galaxies will work so long as they include a copy of the base game. This means that individual expansion releases and beta discs are the only ones to avoid (unless you want them as collectable items).
You do not need to have physical copies of the expansions in order to play that content on rogue servers.
At launch, Star Wars Galaxies was released in a regular edition and a collector’s edition. The regular edition was available both as a big box release and in a standard jewel case, while the collector’s edition came in a larger package and featured several additional trinkets such as a pewter figurine, pin badge and art book.
While the regular edition of the game is relatively easy to come by, an intact version of the collector’s edition is far less common and likely to set you back significantly more money.
When SWG’s first expansion, Jump to Lightspeed, was released, it was only made available as a stand-alone physical release. Therefore, having a copy of these discs would not be sufficient to play one of the Star Wars Galaxies rogue servers, as they won’t install a full copy of the game.
Alongside the second expansion for the game, Rage of the Wookiees, a physical edition dubbed The Total Experience came packaged with both the base game and the Jump to Lightspeed expansion. Similarly, the third expansion, Trials of Obi-Wan, was released in a comparable package called The Complete Online Adventures. As they contain the base game on the discs, both The Total Experience and The Complete Online Adventures are valid copies of the game which will allow you to play on rogue servers.
Finally, a version of the game called The Starter Kit was released alongside the game’s major NGE overhaul in 2005. This version is also sufficient for playing on rogue servers.
How do I play Star Wars Galaxies without a disc?
Towards the later years of its lifespan Star Wars Galaxies was available as a digital download from SOE’s online store, as well as other digital storefronts such as Steam.
Unfortunately, you can no longer buy Steam keys for Star Wars Galaxies, but if you purchased it on your account before the game closed down then you can still install the game from there.
Otherwise, downloading an ISO of the game’s installation discs is considered a legal grey area and is therefore not advisable. If you have a copy of the discs however but do not have a disc drive from which to install them you can find an ISO of the game on the SWG subreddit.
Alternatively, some rogue servers, such as SWG Restoration, come with a copy of the game’s files in their installer. It is however still advisable that you own a physical copy of the discs as the game is not officially classed as abandonware.
Does Star Wars Galaxies require a subscription to play?
While the official version of Star Wars Galaxies required a monthly subscription, the rogue servers available today do not charge players. Some servers allow players to donate towards the monthly costs of hosting the server, but they’re not allowed to profit from the game.
Therefore, because there are no subscription fees or microtransactions, Star Wars Galaxies is essentially free to play once you have a copy of the game files. If you can afford to spare a little money each month towards keeping your favourite server alive though, please do donate!
Can my computer run Star Wars Galaxies?
When it was released, Star Wars Galaxies was a demanding game for even high-end PCs. 20 years later however the game will run on pretty much any desktop PC or laptop. The game was notorious for its poor optimization, so even the fastest computers may still encounter the occasional stutter with shadow and terrain options at max, but many rogue servers have done additional work to improve this.
The full system requirements for Star Wars Galaxies can be found here.
Can I play Star Wars Galaxies on a Mac/Linux/Steam Deck?
While there is no official client for Apple users, Wineskin, Bootcamp, and CrossOver are all capable of running Star Wars Galaxies on Mac. Here is a guide to a Reddit post with information on getting these working. If you prefer video guides here’s a video with instructions on how to run the game using Wineskin.
SWGEmu has a native Linux client available on their install page which will allow you to play any rogue server which uses their code. Servers which run off the live game’s source code such as Legends and Restoration will require a little extra work. You can play SWG Legends using Lutris, Wine, or PlayOnLinux. Restoration can also run via PlayOnLinux.
Although the Steam Deck is still quite new, some players have already managed to get Star Wars Galaxies running on it. Video footage shows that the game runs quite smoothly, but Reddit user Dr_Fumi reports that “The FPS can drop in certain areas, the controller configuration can be buggy at times, and I’ve had it crash on me once so far.”
Another Reddit user, Chazq2012, has a guide on how to get both SWGEmu and SWG Legends running on the Steam Deck, and Dr_Fumi has posted the controller configuration that they use to play the game. This includes options for both ground and space gameplay.
Which version of Star Wars Galaxies should I play?
There were three distinct eras in SWG’s lifespan. These are commonly referred to as the pre-CU, CU, and NGE eras. Each one offers a different kind of gameplay experience, and while the pre-CU may regularly be hailed as the best version of the game, it may not be the best version for you specifically.
With so many different rogue servers offering their own spin on these eras, things are complicated even further. If you played the game while it was live you will likely already have a preferred era and if that’s the case then you’re best off heading towards one of the servers which reflects that.
Here’s a guide which will help you find the right one which suits you, but when you’re starting out you shouldn’t be afraid of trying several different servers until you find one where you feel at home.
There are lots of exciting content and friendly communities across the spectrum of SWG servers, with something unique to recommend on all of them. You can find a full list of SWG rogue servers here.
How do I install Star Wars Galaxies?
Each rogue server will have its own installation process, but they’re all simple to follow. Once you’ve installed the game’s files from your discs, you can go ahead and download the installer from the rogue server you want to play on.
When running the installer, you will usually have to point it to the folder where you installed your discs, and then the rogue server will create a separate folder with its own server-specific files.
For servers which run on the SWGEmu code (An Empire in Flames, Sunrunner II, Dark Rebellion etc), you’ll need to install SWGEmu beforehand. This isn’t the case for servers running the NGE source code (Legends, Beyond, Restoration etc).
You can go ahead and install as many servers as you want at a time without conflicts. Just like any other MMO, future updates to each server are downloaded and installed via their own launchpads.
Will the Star Wars Galaxies private servers be shut down?
As with any MMO, there are no guarantees that any Star Wars Galaxies server will be around forever. Many of the SWG rogue servers have been running for several years now and have established a thriving, public-facing community.
A few other servers have shut down for various reasons such as server costs, small communities, or developers having lost interest, but none have been closed due to legal complications. While this could always change, it’s likely that you’ll be able to enjoy playing Star Wars Galaxies for years to come.
Is Star Wars Galaxies worth trying in 2023?
There are several different reasons why Star Wars Galaxies might still be worth playing – whether you’re a new player or a returning one.
If you played the game some years ago the main reason why you may want to return is nostalgia. Even if you don’t want to devote tens or hundreds of hours to the game you can still have a great time in SWG just by creating a new character, listening to John Williams’ score, and hanging out in the cantina.
If you’ve never played the game before you may find a similar sense of enjoyment doing the same things, but the dated aspects of the game may somewhat hamper the experience. SWG’s lightly stylised graphics aren’t quite as jarring as other games from the same era, so that isn’t so much of an issue. The main thing you’ll have to keep your expectations in check for is the lack of accessibility and quality-of-life options that you would expect from modern games.
This is less of a problem on the NGE servers which feel more akin to the MMOs of today, but if you want to experience the older version of SWG which many people still rave about, then you will have to be willing to spend quite some time getting to grips with the game’s many complex systems, arcane controls, and grind-heavy gameplay.
If however, you’ve got a passion for video game history – or just want to experience a true Star Wars sandbox – that shouldn’t hold you back from trying the game out. We’re extremely fortunate to be in a position where it’s even possible to play the game again, and the community in general is more than willing to offer help (and gear) to new players.