Assorted thoughts on the Lucasfilm/EA exclusive game deal

EA LogoReaction to yesterday’s news that Lucasfilm will be licensing the Star Wars IP exclusively to publisher Electronic Arts was, to put it mildly, a mixed bag. First off were people happy that there were going to be new Star Wars games at all. Then there was the anti-EA crowd upset that Disney was licensing to the least popular company in the gaming industry. So what is it? Good news for fans, or Disney making a mistake and hurting fans?

Some assorted thoughts…

  • Disney and Lucasfilm were never going to break things up and offer rights individually on a per-game basis. There’s more leverage in locking a company up in on an exclusive multi-year deal. Because of this, only two publishers were realistic options: Electronic Arts and Activision. Given that neither company is particularly well regarded in gaming circles, it’s pretty much a pick-your-poison. For me, Electronic Arts has the better game developers in its portfolio so going with them is far and away the preferable option.
  • While Electronic Arts is hated by gamers (some would say irrationally hated), they’ve got fantastic game developers working under them. From the onset, they’ve announced that Bioware, DICE, and Visceral Games are going to be working on future Star Wars titles. This is good news. These are studios that have produced some fantastic products and are capable of doing great things with the Star Wars IP.
  • Yes, even Bioware is a fantastic studio. Whether or not you liked the ending to Mass Effect 3, they are a developer that has consistently put out above-average games that have featured top-notch writing efforts to create deeply immersive games.  Knights of the Old Republic 3? Maybe that’s finally back on the table now that Lucasarts isn’t pulling the strings. Maybe it means a single-player RPG experience in a completely different era. Either way, it’s exciting and turning Bioware loose on a new Star Wars title is great news.
  • For fans that have long wished for Battlefront III, this news is nothing short of a miracle. DICE is the company that produces the Battlefield titles, multiplayer online shooter titles with a remarkably similar feel to the Battlefront games. Critically lauded multiplayer online shooter titles, I might add. You might not get Battlefront III specifically, but I’d say odds are high you’re going to get a game remarkably similar to it.
  • Visceral Games is responsible for the acclaimed Dead Space games, a franchise that’s textbook core market.  They’ve shown they can do atmospheric titles that can push the action angle. Good fit for Star Wars? I think so.
  • Disney and Lucasfilm were never going to leave money from the core gaming market on the table. Claims that they would abandon more grown-up titles to only produce Facebook and iOS titles were simply overreaction to the news that LucasArts was closing down. Maybe it’s time we recognize that Disney isn’t out to make Star Wars fans miserable by cancelling everything we love and acknowledge they just might know what they’re doing?
  • LucasArts was having an increasingly difficult time producing games, so Disney handing the IP off to a company with a stable of high-quality developers was not only a smart business decision, it was a good gesture to fans. At the very least, it’s hard to get much worse than where the IP has been. It’s been a long time since the last critically acclaimed Star Wars title. Giving Electronic Arts a go might be just what the franchise needs to produce something special again.

Boil it down and I just can’t find much to be upset about. There is way more good news than there is bad news involved in this announcement. As of right now, three top-notch studios are going to get to work on the Star Wars IP and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do with it.

Lucasfilm Licensing selects Electronic Arts for exclusive multi-year game deal

When LucasArts was closed down, Disney and Lucasfilm said that the Star Wars IP would move towards a licensing model with out-of-house talent handling development duties. Fans were skeptical that anything would come out of this, naturally. Today Lucasfilm put those concerns to bed with the announcement that publisher Electronic Arts has been selected for an exclusive multi-year game deal.

Today it was announced that Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney Interactive are entering into a multi-year, multi-title exclusive licensing agreement with Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) for the creation of new high quality Star Wars games spanning multiple genres for console, PC, mobile, and tablets.

Industry leaders and creators of best-in-class blockbuster games, the development and publishing teams at EA will collaborate with the creative teams at Lucasfilm to provide audiences with all-new gaming experiences set in the ever-expanding Star Wars galaxy. As part of the agreement, EA studio teams DICE (Battlefield series) and Visceral (Dead Space series) will join BioWare (Mass Effect series, Star Wars: The Old Republic) in the development of new Star Wars games.

“Our number one objective was to find a developer who could consistently deliver our fans great Star Wars games for years to come,” said Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm. “When we looked at the talent of the teams that EA was committing to our games and the quality of their vision for Star Wars, the choice was clear.”

While EA studios will develop for the core Star Wars gaming audience, Disney Interactive will focus on delivering new Star Wars games for casual audiences on mobile, social, tablet, and online gaming platforms.

“This agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come,” said John Pleasants, co-president of Disney Interactive. “Collaborating with one of the world’s premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to fans around the world.”

“Every developer dreams of creating games for the Star Wars universe,” said EA Labels President Frank Gibeau. “Three of our top studios will fulfill that dream, crafting epic adventures for Star Wars fans. The new experiences we create may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay.”

More information, including titles in development, will be announced in the coming months. Continue to check for updates on the future of Star Wars gaming.

Take a moment to look at the studios that are going to be involved. DICE, Visceral Studios, and Bioware. These are three big-name players that command a lot of respect in the gaming community and have produced some incredible game portfolios. Lucasarts may be gone, but the Star Wars gaming IP is perhaps in better shape than it has been in years.