Greedo is Good said:
Shakespeare, I don't doubt it for a minute. Hell, did the WEG version have a longer run than Wi zards? Of course it all comes down to a creative and well-run game.
I just can't emphasize enough how much I love this generally narrativist turn that new game mechanics are taking. It's all I want to play. Trail of Cthulhu, Sorcerer, (Jedi) in the Vineyard, WHFRP, and now this. I've got a wife, a job and a two-year old. Even if I wanted to figure out all my multi-class feats for a Pathfinder game (which I don't, really), I wouldn't have the time. The fact is that I'm having more fun gaming in my thirties than I did in my teens, and much of it is because of these kinds of games. It's too fun.
Apologies for the necro, but some
WEG not only got a great license at a decent price, at first, but they also were the most wide-spread source of "Expanded Universe" data…
There were few novels when they started…
3 Han Solo novels (HS at Stars End, HS's Revenge, HS & the Lost Legacy) by Brian Daley
3 Lando Calrissian novels (LC and the Mindharp of Sharu, LC and the Flamewind of Oseon, LC and the Starcave of ThonBoka), by L. Neil Smith
Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster
And 3 novelizations of the movies
During their run, 6 Jedi Prince books and about 6 other books were released. As were the Dark Empire graphic novels.
There was no internet to search for more info… you went to the game for its sourcebooks.
There was very limited marketing of setting info books other than WEG's.
There was no ready outlet for fan-writers, and WEG gave a good one (SWAJ).
They added value to the property just as the marketing wave from Jedi was peaking… and when they lost it, the whole industry was in a slump, but they'd inspired a bunch of people to remain active fans.
TSR/Wizards simply couldn't compete with the internet as a source of data for fans. So the only thing they had going was the engine… And the engine put off many fans of SW… including some who liked d20 in general.
WEG's SW Sourcebook was as much for fans as for gamers. No shortage of gamers started because they noted game stats in the gorgeous book of setting data.
We can't expect FFG-SW to be as influential as WEG-SW… the WEG model won't work due to competition with free websites, and loads of soft-canon stuff like the guide to the Falcon.