The greatest news about the Star Wars franchise in years might be undone because of two little letters- EA.
Electronic Arts, a place where I believe I know more laid-off employees than current ones, has signed with Disney for an exclusive, multi-year licensing deal. This has led most gamers to commence groaning until they mentioned the companies working on the titles - DICE (Battlefield, Mirror’s Edge), Visceral Games (Dead Space) and BioWare (motherfuckin’ Mass Effect, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic).
This is a multi-game deal for every single platform in existence and “the most popular game genres” (ie, expect shooters), although Disney has retained the rights for casual and social games for mobile devices, tablets and online. There's no word on how much money was involved in this decision.
EA Labels President Frank Gibeau in a press release:
Every developer dreams of creating games for the Star Wars universe. Three of our top studios will fulfill that dream, crafting epic adventures for Star Wars fans. DICE and Visceral will produce new games, joining the Bioware team which continues to develop for the Star Wars franchise. The new experiences we create may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay.
After Disney shuttered LucasArts late last year after acquiring the Star Wars license in a billion-dollar deal, it was generally assumed they would license the game out to individual developers the way they’ve been doing for years and years, but they were apparently very impressed with EA’s pitch and studios.
DICE is an obvious choice for a Battlefront-style multiplayer game seeing as how that popular team-based shooter was a riff on DICE's Battlefield in the first place. As evidenced by their name, Visceral Games has always dabbled in the more violent and extreme games, although that backfired with Dante's Inferno. Still, it would be interesting to see gamers get a darker, perhaps even horror title in the franchise - would that even be possible?
“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 on StarWars.com. “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.”
Certainly hope there won’t be any more wasted potential like The Force Unleashed. All of these upcoming games will all be developed on DICE’s Frostbite 3 engine, which has clearly been used to amazing results in the upcoming Battlefield 4. Personally, I don’t see how you could find fault with this news, unless you work at another studio or were hoping for yet another Lego Star Wars game. Say what you want about EA and all its problems (SimCity was a disaster for them) but they're not throwing just any developer at this, these are three of its best, and considering all the lousy installments this franchise has had in the past maybe it would better to have it all under one roof. What do you folks think?