EA’s exclusivity arrangement to make Star Wars games for Disney is no longer on the table! The nearly eight-year deal saw the cancellation of exciting titles like Star Wars 1313. The company even suffered the cancellation of their own Star Wars games, including “Project Ragtag” and a Battlefront spin-off. Fans bemoaned the deal when it happened, and rightfully so. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 faced massive backlash for predatory microtransactions. However, we can’t ignore that they did incredibly well with Jedi: Fallen Order and Squadrons. I do keep in mind that Respawn Fallen Order and Motive Studios created the latter.
StarWars.com revealed that Lucasfilm Games is the official identity for all game titles from Lucasfilm. When they made the announcement, many wondered what it meant for EA. At first, it appeared this new direction would allow gaming companies to create games based on other properties. For instance, Bethesda is working on an Indiana Jones game. I don’t have information on that, and Bethesda isn’t likely to reveal anything for quite a long time.
On 1/13/2021, Lucasfilm Games announced a partnership with Ubisoft. According to Wired, we are officially getting an open-world Star Wars game, developed by Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment. Massive Entertainment most recently created The Division and The Division 2. It’s too early to know what the story will be about, but it’s a title to look out for.
What happened to the EA deal?
The significance of Ubisoft developing a Star Wars game is enormous. In 2013, EA said they had an exclusive 10-year deal to create Star Wars games. We’re seven years into the agreement. Although they’ve lost exclusive rights, EA will continue making games for Disney. Sean Shoptaw, senior vice president of Global Games and Interactive Experiences at Disney, told Wired, “EA has been and will continue to be a very strategic and important partner for us now and going forward. But we feel like there’s room for others.”
EA is still in the fold, but their course correction for their games gives me hope for the future. It’s the microtransaction practice that soured EA’s relationship with gamers. The content of their video games has been of high quality. After playing Jedi: Fallen Order, it’s no surprise that Lucasfilm Games doesn’t want to part ways with the company; It is a substantial property that demands more sequels.
Their deal came to fruition in an attempt for Disney to minimize company risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. However, since the EA deal, there have been only a handful of titles.
“It’s all connected” applies to Star Wars now
Disney has been breathing new life into the franchise, weaving not just comic books into the canon. EA’s Jedi: Fallen Order and Squadrons are both canon to the overall universe. From now on, all video game developers are free to pitch ideas, but they are playing with Disney’s toys. “Ultimately, we have final approval over everything,” said Douglas Reilly, VP of Lucasfilm Games.
James Waugh, Lucasfilm’s VP of franchise content and strategy, sums up the connectivity to Wired this way:
“I think where people get tripped up on that sometimes is like, ‘Oh, then it has to connect to everything else. And that’s not necessarily what we’re always saying. That will happen if it’s right for that story.”
I take that to mean everything is still tied together. You won’t need to watch, read, or play certain things to understand a game’s place in the world. Not every time, anyhow. Star Wars has handled this well. Look at Squadrons. Star Wars Squadrons is relatively stand-alone but involves Hera Syndulla, a popular character from the animated series Star Wars Rebels. It’s left to gamers to decide whether or not to absorb past content to know who she is. Admittedly, many of us are going in having already watched the series.
The Future of Star Wars
Besides Ubisoft’s open-world game, there are rumors about Battlefront 3. Tweets from multiple Star Wars Battlefront 2 actors are making people believe the sequel is in the works. Janina Gavankar (Iden Versio), Anthony Skordi (Admiral Garrick Versio), and T.J. Ramini (Del Meeko) have been working on something secretive together. Ramini and Skordi confirmed this in December.
There may not be much to report on now, but we can look forward to many Star Wars announcements in the future. Rather than give my two cents about why, here is a quote from Kathleen Kennedy:
“As we look to the next 50 years of Lucasfilm, we look forward to continuing the wonderful legacy in games, which has introduced so many memorable characters and stories. These new collaborations will allow the Lucasfilm Games team to pursue fresh and exciting directions in the storytelling of Star Wars and Indiana Jones in imaginative and different ways than those explored by our films.”
Disney has invited more creative minds to create their own spaces within the Star Wars Universe than ever before. At this point, Disney’s well of ideas won’t dry out anytime soon. The only negative about this, in my mind, is old franchises don’t fit the new canon. Although we won’t see another Force Unleashed, I look forward to joining you all in a galaxy far, far away.