Two decades after release, strategy classic Star Wars: Empire at War is still being patched

Gamers don’t forget: Major publishers are actively working toward a future where games run in the cloud and then disappear forever when the servers shut down soon after. However, some developers can still show some affection for their creations even after a considerable number of years have passed.

Petroglyph Games definitely belongs to the latter category. Founded in 2003 by two former programmers of the legendary Westwood Studios, the Las Vegas-based developer is mostly focused on making real-time strategy (RTS) games for Windows PCs. Their first game was Star Wars: Empire at War, a Star Wars-themed RTS published by LucasArts in 2006 for PC and macOS.

Chronologically set between Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) and Episode IV (A New Hope), Empire at War depicts the Galactic Civil War events that fueled the construction of the Death Star. The player takes the role of a “galactic commander,” visiting well-known areas in the Star Wars film mythology (Kashyyyk, Tatooine, Dagobah) and leading their army to victory.

In October 2006, Petroglyph released an expansion for the base game titled Forces of Corruption. The game lost its online multiplayer functionalities in 2014, but it was later re-released on Steam with full multiplayer and workshop support. The Star Wars: Empire at War Gold Pack currently available on Valve’s marketplace includes both the base game and the Forces of Corruption expansion.

Earlier in November 2023, Petroglyph released a maintenance patch for its 17-year-old game to provide minor bug fixes and optimizations. Now, the Las Vegas studio is providing yet another maintenance patch update, with some remarkable improvements to an old 3D RTS that should have been lost in the fogs of gaming history years ago.

The latest patch for Star Wars: Empire at War converts both the base game and its expansion from 32-bit to 64-bit applications, which should solve out-of-memory bugs and crashes players have been experiencing. Multiplayer out-of-sync issues have been addressed as well, improving overall stability. Furthermore, the patch provides “numerous” fixes aimed at addressing gameplay balance and incorrect unit behavior.

Despite being almost twenty years old, Star Wars: Empire at War still has some loyal fans out there with thousands of concurrent players logged on Steam at any given moment. Multiplayer is definitely an option, and Petroglyph’s commitment to maintaining their first game is commendable. Switching to 64-bit could provide some incentive for modders as well, while a modern remake isn’t entirely out of the question. Petroglyph’s latest productions include Command & Conquer Remastered Collection (2020) and The Great War: Western Front (2023).

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