Star Wars games on track?
EA might not be everyone's favourite uncle, but its influence might see some sorely missed series reborn and profiteering once more.
Electronic Arts is now the exclusive publisher of Star Wars games, although Disney maintains limited mobile rights. The announcement came in the wake of Star Wars Day ("May the 4th be with you"). Fitting, as EA could be considered the "The Galactic Empire" of the gaming publisher world. As a result of its negative reputation (voted most hated company in America two years' running), responses to the news are understandably going to be mixed.
Most ridiculously, people accuse the company of "only caring about the money". A publically traded corporation that cares about money - who would have thought? Additionally, large swathes of online criticisers (and voters) seem to be confused about what the publisher actually does in the development process.
EA has a little bit of a reputation for milking intellectual properties (IPs) dry, leaving a bad taste in fans' mouths as they try to forget that "one last sequel" that they bought - wherein they were subjected to a marauding legion of bugs, errors, incompatibilities, incomplete content and general poor design.
However, it also has the reins of innumerable gaming developer powerhouses, not limited to Bioware (Dragon Age: Origins), DICE (Battlefield 3) and Visceral Games (Dead Space). Many of these studios have the benefit of having enjoyed massive commercial success, and more recently, less successful offerings such as the highly rated, but distinctly underselling, Dead Space 3.
One particular title that has been floating about the studios and Internet rumour bases for years is that of a possible sequel to Star Wars: Battlefront 2. It has been confirmed, denied, cancelled, terminated, found by accident and now - had an hour of early game-play leaked to the public.
The series, which closely resembles the Battlefield series developed by DICE, was rumoured to be back under development this year to trial whether it would enjoy market success, and what better way to ensure success than to get the studio that dominates the genre to help out? What remains to be seen is what the production schedules on the upcoming games looked like prior to LucasArts' termination, as the company was advertising for positions a month before its Mickey Mouse owners decided to close it.
So, while this announcement is good for LucasArts IPs, meaning we'll see more games in the future (that hopefully don't involve dancing or animated bird catapults), it could be considered a bit too soon after LucasArts' closure (their sand crawler hasn't even stopped smouldering yet). Gamers' over-involvement with the industry is well known, as no other form of entertainment works quite the same way.
Even managing to change the ending to a triple A release because they didn't like it (well, kind of. It stayed pretty depressing, but went much more in depth). In short, they are the ultimate nightmare audience.
There are few settings more hotly protected and passionately followed than Star Wars, so developing anything in its name can be pretty nerve-wracking. Even its creator has received harsh scorn for decades over post-release changes (or 'ret-cons' - retroactive continuity) - from things as small as who shoots first in Han Solo's first blaster scene (It was Han!).
Some of the settings' massive success stories have been the world-sculpting Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) series (or, if you're a purist, just the first one, because the second was rushed to deadline).
The KOTOR 1 even earned a place in Time Magazine's "Top 100 Games of All Time", with a metacritic score still sitting at 93%. KOTOR 2, despite being criticised for its lacklustre ending, missing content and general feeling of something being missing, was still praised for the depth it added to features from the first game, and has an incredibly respectable metacritic score of 85% (given its circumstances, with the developers admitting it is unfinished).
All things considered, the move seems pretty positive for Disney, Star Wars and EA, and once the shock wears off about LucasArts' demise, more and more fans will remember its poor performance in its more recent releases - and perhaps not stay so sentimental.