Last month, Disney shut down LucasArts, leaving the Star Wars license in limbo. Last week, we were hit with another round of EA layoffs, with EA seemingly looking to put more stock into mobile gaming and dial back on core titles. Yesterday, those two pieces of news collided as EA announced exclusive rights to develop and publish new core Star Wars games in a multi-year contract.
The news comes from Gamasutra, who reveals that Visceral Games (Dead Space), DICE (Battlefield) and BioWare (Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic) will all be developing core games in the Star Wars universe.
“The new experiences we create may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay,” said EA Games label president Frank Gibeau.
While Disney will retain rights to publish games on mobile, social, and online platforms, and EA hasn’t announced which studios will be working on what types of games, we can definitely guess based on track records. I would guess that BioWare will be working on a KotOR-style game, DICE is probably working on a Battlefront followup, and Visceral is… well, I don’t like the idea of dismembering wookies, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
This is that time of year where, after revisiting their first quarter reports, many companies decide to “restructure” their makeup, much in the same way a victim of a zombie bite tries to “restructure” by severing the afflicted limb outright.
To that end, Disney has shut down LucasArts, the publishing house responsible for Star Wars game production, as well as seminal classics like Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle. From Game Informer:
After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.
Sad news, as always, but there’s a silver lining for gamers. Now that other studios are free to create Star Wars games and have them licensed by Disney, we may see a marked jump in quality in future Star Wars games. A Japanese-developed Star Wars title? It could happen. Heck, we could see Capcom take on Indiana Jones, for all we know.
Endless possibilities in the light of some tragic layoff news. That’s pretty much the game industry in the nuttiest of shells.
My kids are definitely going to watch the original Star Wars trilogy first, no spoilers for them. I want to see this reaction from my son when he watches them for the first time:
J.J. Abrams will direct the next “Star Wars” film for Disney, taking stewardship of one of Hollywood’s most iconic and lucrative film franchises, an individual with knowledge of the production told TheWrap.
This could still just be a rumor, what with Abrams previously denying that he would direct Star Wars and the use of “an individual with knowledge of the production” as a source.
But I think we can assume this is legitimate. To make a new Star Wars credible, Disney needed a nerd’s nerd to be the director. Nowadays, that brings two individuals to mind: J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon. I can think of few others who are as well known for respect for source material and knowing what makes particular franchises fun.