EA Buying Star Wars Might Not Be All Bad

The news that EA has locked down the rights to Star Wars games has, understandably, been met with a fair amount of backlash. Electronic Arts is far from people's most trusted and beloved publisher of video games, and fans are worried this will somehow be bad news for the future of Star Wars video games.

But is it all bad? Not at all. In some ways it's the best outcome we could have hoped for in, given the realities of big business, a fairly awful (read: lesser of two evils) situation. Here's why.

  • Disney was never going to break this up. As the owners of Star Wars, Disney was never going to offer the rights off individually to various publishers on a per game basis. It was only ever going to sign a bulk deal like this, lock somebody in for the long haul, and given the popularity of Star Wars, only a handful of publishers would have been able to afford it. Maybe even two. The other being Activision. Would you have preferred that?
  • These are good teams. EA is a terrible publisher, and for the most part, I'll agree with people who mistrust them and straight up dislike them. But at the same time, the specific studios named to be working on Star Wars games today have some of the best track records in the business in spite of that. There could be a lot worse developers out there working on new Star Wars games than the companies behind the various Battlefield games and Dead Space. Indeed, put it that way and it almost seems like a best-case scenario. Almost.
  • Think about those studios. They have specialities. If DICE don't end up making some kind of Battlefront replacement, using their Battlefield experience, I'd be very surprised. Or, if not that, then at least a decent shooter from the Bad Company team. Ditto for Visceral; we've had loads of quality Star Wars games over the years, but a quality survival horror experience hasn't been one of them. The benefit of the deal being such a big one looks to me like Disney is seeking to cover multiple bases with multiple projects catering to different genres and markets. So we'll get a shooter, yes, but other games like RPGs and horror games as well, hopefully.
  • It's not like Star Wars games have been setting people's pants on fire lately. When was the last time you played a truly great Star Wars game? Force Unleashed was OK. Republic Commando was pretty good. Before that, well. It's been a very long time. How is EA getting the rights to these games any worse than the situation we had previously, where Lucasarts sat on the licence and either farmed it out for shovelware or released shoddy sequels?
  • These aren't kids games. They're not Facebook games. Disney will be handling the lighter stuff on their own. This deal is specifically for "core" games, the kind you'll play on an Xbox, a PlayStation or PC. Since that's a section of the market Lucasarts mostly ignored over the last decade - and since it's likely the section of the market you belong to - that's good to hear.

Of course, I'm a hopeless optimist. I always hear about deals like this and hope for the best because, well, that's how my mother raised me. I'll grant you, though, that there are also potential pitfalls ahead.

  • DRM. Always-online. DLC. Rushed annual releases. Ceaseless microtransactions. In-game advertising. You know, the bad stuff people associate EA with. The company has surely learned valuable lessons from recent disasters surrounding SimCity and Medal of honour, but you can never be sure. If we start seeing Lightsabers® powered by Energizer™, it's time to bail.
  • BioWare. Five years ago, news BioWare were working on a new Star Wars game would have made fans go bananas. But the BioWare of 2013 isn't the BioWare of Knights of the Old Republic. The company is spread - perhaps too thinly - over multiple teams, all of which have had a few black marks against their name lately, from Mass Effect 3's ending to Dragon Age 2's step backwards to Old Republic's colossal waste of resources. That makes going bananas a less immediate inclination.
  • Movies. It's easy to get carried away and start hoping for strong new takes on the Star Wars universe, or true continuations of series like KOTOR, but at the same time, there are new Star Wars movies coming. Lots of them. For every decent/good/awesome game we get, we're just as likely to get a movie tie-in.

Call me naive, call me a hopeless optimist, but as someone who's played a ton of Battlefield and Dead Space over the last few years, and who has yearned for someone to stand up and start making serious Star Wars games again in the absence of any real drive or ambition from Lucasarts, I'm quietly pleased - if not ecstatic - with today's news.

Top picture: MasterChef_117


    There sure as shit won't be a new xwing or tie fighter game, which is the only thing that might get me to break my EA boycott, so I just can't bring myself to care.

    We’ve had loads of quality Star Wars games over the years, but a quality survival horror experience hasn’t been one of them. I really don't think Star Wars could work as a survival horror. I can not think of one thing that is scary about Star Wars.

    Edit: I have not read any of the books

    Last edited 08/05/13 10:57 am

      I was going to post the same thing. Then again the recent iterations of dead space were just action shooters anyway so the team could possibly put together something along the lines of 1313

      Ever read Galaxy of Fear series? Basically Goosebumps in the Star Wars universe. Not scary by adult standards at all, but shows that there is a lot of scope in the universe for almost anything.

      Obviously you've never read the Death Trooper books then :P (I've only read the prequel, Red Harvest).
      A game based on those could be pretty interesting. What could be more scary than zombie jedi/siths?

      The closest they got (in my experience) was in Republic Commando when the Geonosians pulled that soldier out of the LAAT gunship in the beginning :-P
      Past games have been too Sci-fi-action to be survival-horror... But it's not completely impossible.

      I remember reading a book once featuring "Bartokks" - insect creatures and hive minds surely promote survival horrors, right?

      Last edited 08/05/13 1:14 pm

    Plz make KOTOR3, Plz make KOTOR 3...

      KOTOR3 was released as an always-online co-op game called Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's available to try for free in an incredibly ultra-limited form at the moment, and instead of a box price you pay a subscription for as long as it takes to finish it. Weird, but there it is.

    You've played Deadspace over the years? Then perhaps you saw how the series degraded into Deadspace 3? Yeah.... not too good...

      I didn't really like how much of a 'shooter' DS3 turned out to be, I found myself playing a GOW without the cover system. The only real thing that saves the game is dialogue and storyline.

        Exactly. DS3 wasn't Deadspace, it was Gears-Lite. I went back and played the original Deadspace after I rented DS3 and thanked christ I never bought 3.

    Dice on the next Star Wars Battlefront? Maybe yes,

    Couldn't have said it better myself Mr Plunkett, Despite EA's bad wrap they are probably the only ones who can produce a 'quality' star wars game. I do like your quote about it being a better alternative than 'Activision', at least Bioware or DICE can create something considerably more interesting and mechanically awesome :)

    The fact that you feel the need to even write an article pointing out that it’s not ALL bad is a pretty good indication of how bad the culture of being whining, entitled knobs has become in the gaming community.

    EA has terrible DRM and DLC policies, yep, but they’ve still published a LOT of great games this generation. As far as studio’s who will actually invest the money into the franchise to ensure we get good quality Star Wars games coming from a variety of teams I couldn’t think of anyone better than EA to be holding onto the license.

    Without re-opening your bag of nerd tears I’d like to point out that KOTOR was NOT a perfect game by any means and on the scale of it, was probably not significantly better than Mass Effect 3 (on its own) even if you didn’t like the ending. It’s really sad to see a developer who puts out games which are consistently better than everything else on the market being constantly criticized for 10 minutes some people didn’t like. The way they managed to put together 45+ hours of previous gameplay choices into a final game, while still maintaining very solid shooter gameplay and RPG elements together has never been done before in gaming and should be celebrated.

    It’s a tremendous achievement to take on a generation-length project and have the level of success that they did….

    But no, “black mark” from Plunkett…… didn’t like the last 10 minutes. Sad.

      I personally didn't mind the ME3 ending because my expectations were set appropriately from reading developer interviews prior to the game's release. They did actually tell us that Shepard's story was going to be definitively Done. Over. Finished. No more. The End.

      How many possibilities did fans expect from that kind of advice? Death or ascending to a higher plane. What else is there that means you cannot ever possibly revisit the character, ever? There was never going to be a 'ride off into the sunset' happily-ever-after, and we were told this in advance. They didn't say, "Well we're done with Shepard, but someone else could always pick up the mantle, like Bungie with Halo." They said that Shepard was done. People should have been preparing for that, and the fairly nihilistic implications of realizing that it doesn't matter what you do in life, you're still going to die in the end - so I guess none of your choices matter? That's kinda confronting.

      But that said... for people who were so upset by it that you'd think Bioware had shot their dog, I can understand how it could ruin the series for them, even if they felt everything leading up to the last ten minutes was gaming gold.

      Just think: If you were out eating at a restaurant and every new dish they brought out was an explosion of flavour, a delight for the senses, that if your tongue could orgasm, it would... then for the final dish, they brought out a giant steaming bowl of foul-smelling, runny shit and forced you to eat it before you could leave. Would you go back to that restaurant again, or recommend it to your friends? Or would you get very, very angry? Would you say that your dining experience was good or bad?

        Trying to resist the urge to rant, but it wasn't the lack of options or finality of Shep's story it was the final 20 minutes being an absolute mess. It switched genres and was just full of awful, awful writing. This retroactively soured the rest of the game so naturally people are going to start picking at things like plot holes and lack of options.

        Also for the record they said that stuff in the lead up to ME3, but it's not what they were saying during ME and ME2.

        HAHA! While i see your point about being fed a Coogee Bay Sunday for desert, I don’t think a REASONABLE (and that’s the key word here) person would be the same level of upset over the dissatisfactory ending to a game and having to eat a steaming pile.

        At the end of the day a lot of people were that upset, which is a very unique combination of hilarious and pathetic.

    I played Dead Space 3 and thought it was awesome. It is a slightly different game but I jumped into it feeling like Ripley in Alien 3 ad Ressurection. You know about the Necromorphs, you know how to deal with them, you know their tricks. Time for killin'.

    Either way I had fun playing it, Same way I had heap of fun playing Mass Effect 3 and Battlefield 3. People grab one detail of a game and say its rubbish. I play the game, have fun and say its great.

    Hey, remember Pandemic? The devs that made the two fun-as-hell Star Wars Battlefront games?

    Yeah, EA closed them.

    Yes actually, I would have preferred that Activision acquired the Star Wars rights. They may make some horrendous business decisions from a player's standpoint, but EA has proved they are far more incompetent and more money-hungry than Activision ever have been. They've shown outright contempt for their consumers.

    The funny thing is that just a few years ago, I would never have believed that Activision would be the lesser of two evils.

    hey kotaku, can you contact EA and ask them to make that a real game please? i really wanna play The Clones now

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