Earlier today, Lucasfilm Games announced that it’s partnering with Ubisoft to create an open-world Star Wars game. While the idea of an Ubisoft open-world Star Wars game is something to get your blood flowing, the major piece of news to take out of this announcement is the rapid approach to the end of EA’s exclusivity deal with Lucasfilm Games.
Since 2012, EA has been the only publisher producing Star Wars games. EA’s time with the Star Wars brand has been…interesting to say the least. There was the loot box debacle with Battlefront 2 in 2018, which spear-headed the on-going conversation surrounding gambling in games. On the flip side, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order received wide-spread acclaim and a Games Awards nomination for best action/adventure. Jedi: Fallen Order ended with the idea of a sequel, and with EA’s deal running through 2023, there’s still a chance we see Cal again. Overall, it’s been hit-or-miss with EA when it comes to Star Wars games, so the idea of other studios taking a crack at making their own intergalactic adventures should be celebrated.
Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment studio will be behind the development of this Star Wars project. Massive Entertainment developed The Division 1 and 2, so the Swedish games studio knows a thing or two about creating immersive worlds. The amount of detail they put into creating New York City and Washington D.C. was incredible. Now imagine that same level of detail, but Star Wars. Massive’s Star Wars project is still very early, but we can start making a few early assumptions on what to expect. Open-world Ubisoft games are notorious for having towers for the player to ascend in order to unlock areas of the map, so bank on that. Right now, it’s unknown what Massive’s game will be about. Could it be another Jedi adventure or maybe we’ll get to play as a bounty hunter? I think there’s a rather popular one with his own show on Disney+?
— Lucasfilm Games (@LucasfilmGames) January 13, 2021
Now as I mentioned, Massive’s project is a ways out there. But seeing that this announcement was made now, it’s only natural to wonder what other studios will take a swing at Star Wars. Let’s take a look at another major Disney-owned franchise: Marvel. Over the past few years, we’ve had a number of Marvel games from different developers: Avengers (Crystal Dynamics), Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (Team Ninja), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Traveller’s Tales), Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (Capcom), and Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series (Telltale Games). While each of those games come from the same property, they’re all different experiences in their own right. This is something that should get Star Wars fans excited. Star Wars is such a huge franchise with countless characters that the ideas are limitless. There’s so much potential in the Star Wars brand and now studios will finally have the creative freedom to possibly explore it.
Lucasfilm Games is not done with new announcements:
“And that’s going to continue throughout the next year or so, where we’re going to continue to announce projects that are more representative of the legacy of the old Lucasfilm Games that we’re now trying to live up to.”
— Nibel (@Nibellion) January 13, 2021
As with most things, there’s going to be both positive and negative ripple effects. How could ending EA’s exclusivity deal potentially damage Star Wars? With multiple studios now vying for a piece of the galactic pie, Lucasfilms Games could find themselves in a “quantity over quality” situation. Instead of getting one Star Wars game every couple years, we could see multiple games released in a single calendar year. While many can’t get enough of Star Wars, having too many games could saturate the market and introduce Star Wars fatigue. On the other hand, given the amount of backlash EA has received over the course of its Star Wars deal, Disney might be picky regarding studio pitch ideas. They may not want Star Wars games for the sake of Star Wars games, which could also restrict the amount of creativity behind future projects.
Another potential negative ripple effect is how this muddles up the water on other Massive Entertainment projects. The Division games were solid, although not necessarily the home run hitters that Ubisoft may have envisioned. In addition, Massive announced an Avatar project back in 2017. That makes three major projects, so something has to give. Apparently, Massive is still recruiting staff for the Avatar project, so that would leave a possible third Division game on the outside looking in. While I hope we eventually get a third Division game, the overall premise of an apocalyptic world has overstayed its welcome. If the choice was between The Division 3 and an open-world Star Wars, give me the space game every time.
Still in development as they are recruiting staff for it
— Nibel (@Nibellion) January 13, 2021
At the end of the day, Star Wars is simply too complex and enormous of a property to be tied to one studio. EA’s exclusivity deal created too much of a hinderance on the brand and bottlenecked its overall growth. Disney choosing to branch out to other studios beyond EA will ultimately benefit the Star Wars brand moving forward. There’s always that slim chance this move doesn’t pay off, like Star Wars fatigue, but I don’t see that happening. The Star Wars brand hasn’t strayed far from the Skywalker stranglehold, so having an arsenal of studios adding their own flavor to Star Wars can help diversify the brand. There’s so much to be explored in this galaxy far, far away and the end to EA’s deal is the first step in the right direction.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are solely of the author’s and doesn’t represent the entirety of MP1st or of its staff.