Okay, everyone, prepare yourselves for a little nerdrage. Because this particular discussion of an old game (card game, in this case) is going to get a little...political. And by "political", I mean nasty. Depending on which camp you're in, you might find yourself working up a little reciprocal nerdrage of your own, in fact. We'll see if the comments section fills up or not.
Because the reason that the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars trading card game went out of print has to do mainly with politics--specifically, fan politics. In case you're not familiar with the history of the Star Wars TCG, it was not the first collectible Star Wars card game to come out. Before WotC got the license, Decipher made a Star Wars CCG.
And there's no nice way to say it: It was a piece of shit. Decipher literally does not know the first thing about designing a collectible card game. And unlike so many people on the Internet, I'm actually using "literally" in its proper sense. The first principle of a collectible card game is that you cannot assume that anyone is using any specific card in his or her deck; a good CCG has a solid framework of rules that can support the ever-increasing complexity of multiple card sets, each one being over a hundred cards, without getting bogged down in minutiae or errata.
Decipher's Star Wars CCG, um...didn't do this. Not only was the basic structure of the rules hideous and complicated in and of itself, but cards made specific reference to other cards. If a card turned out to be overpowered, Decipher would make a "magic bullet" card that specifically canceled the overpowered card; then the game devolved into rock-paper-scissors, as everyone either packed the magic bullet against someone who hadn't bothered putting the overpowered card in their deck because everyone used the magic bullet card now, or else didn't have it when they needed it because they'd stopped putting it in their deck because it was useless unless someone happened to put the specific overpowered card in their deck. And then, they released an expansion set, and had to put in errata explaining that the magic bullet card now also worked against this new card that it should have worked against all along, but that card didn't exist yet when they made the magic bullet card...
Decipher was known for putting out a full page of errata for every single set. This is not good design.
But Decipher still managed to sell a lot of Star Wars cards, for two reasons. One, it's Star Wars, and Star Wars anything sells to a certain percentage of the populace. And two, Decipher's graphic design people are as good as their game design people are bad. The cards looked beautiful, despite the fact that the game was so ugly as to be nigh-unplayable without a complete set and a masochistic attitude towards fun.
Then the prequels came out, and Decipher refused to make sets for them, because it wouldn't make sense to have Luke Skywalker being able to fight Darth Maul. Instead, they made a second, non-compatible game for the prequels...which utterly bombed. So then they backed down, and made expansions for the prequels, but didn't include characters like Anakin because their rules wouldn't allow for it. Then they released yet another CCG, which wasn't compatible with either of the previous two. Then LucasArts got sick of all that, and awarded the license to WotC when it was time to renew.
WotC looked at the original game and saw that after all the expansions and errata, it had devolved from a nigh-unplayable piece of shit into a completely unplayable piece of shit. It went back to the drawing board and got Richard Garfield to design a totally new TCG, with an elegant rules structure that allowed for loads of fun and could accommodate the entire Star Wars universe, and which became better with every single expansion. Seriously, this was an absolute triumph on every level, from the mechanics to the playability to the flexibility to the sheer fun factor of having stormtroopers fighting Krayt Dragons and Jango Fett fighting his own son and getting your very own Death Star to blow up planets. It was a thing of beauty.
But Decipher fans refused to support it, because they couldn't use their old cards and they'd already spent hundreds of dollars on the old game and WotC just didn't get it, man! Instead, they made up "virtual card sets" for the old game, which they could print out and play with the old cards (and which managed to be just as incompetent as the professionally released sets, although that's more the fault of the rules they were working with than the people that were designing the new mock cards.) WotC's game managed to last long enough to cover all six movies, but without the support of the Star Wars gamer community, it was eventually canceled.
Which is immensely frustrating to me. Because sure, I still have all the old WotC cards and I can pull them out any time I want and have a grand old time pitting the Republic and the Rebels against the Separatists and the Empire (with the bounty hunters and smugglers playing both sides against the middle)...and sure, there's a fan group putting out "virtual card sets" for this game, too...but one of the wonderful things about a CCG is the way it evolves with each new set. The game that WotC released with "Attack of the Clones" was playable, even fun. But the game that they had when "Revenge of the Sith", the last official set came out? That was brilliant. WotC has a great design team, and I was really looking forward to what they were going to do next.
And because of some people who were unwilling to walk away from a shit sandwich to feast on filet mignon, I don't get it. Sometimes, there is no justice in the world of great games.