When LucasArts’ new parent corporation, Disney, announced that they were shutting the company down a few weeks ago, they said that the development of new Star Wars games would be licensed out to a third party. Today, they revealed who that third party is: Electronic Arts.
The deal between EA and Disney gives EA the exclusive rights to create all “core” focused Star Wars games, while Disney will retain the rights to publish casual-focused games set in the franchise for smart phones and the web. The details of the deal, including how much money EA had to pony up for the rights to the franchise, haven’t been disclosed yet.
EA says that their three biggest development teams — Bioware (who previously worked on the Knights of the Old Republic series,) DICE (creators of Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge,) and Visceral Games (the team behind Dead Space) — are already working on new Star Wars games, though EA representatives weren’t ready to discuss any specific details about what those games would be like or how many titles are in development.
It’s also unknown if this deal with effect the distribution of already released Star Wars titles on services like Steam, Xbox Live, or PSN.
Now, I know we all like to blame EA with everything that’s wrong with the industry (which isn’t exactly an unfair assessment… sometimes,) but the news doesn’t sound all bad — Bioware, DICE, and Visceral Games are all proven development teams with lots of great games under their belt, so there’s a chance they might finally turn out some good games with the Star Wars license. It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten any decent games set in the galaxy far, far away, so it’s not like EA could do a worse job than LucasArts did for the last few years three or four years… Of course, there’s an equally good chance that the new Star Wars games might be shovelware filled with microtransactions and on-disc DLC, and given EA’s recent financial problems, they might simply try to milk the Star Wars cash-cow for all it’s worth. But regardless of how you feel about this news, I think at this point it’s too early to make assumptions about what EA is going to do with the franchise.