Maybe it’s time for Disney to ditch EA and open up Star Wars to the masses, perhaps even conducting a game jam? On this week’s Kotaku Splitscreen, we discuss.
First up, we talk about the games we’re playing, including Resident Evil 2, Danganronpa and Destiny 2's dungeon, Shattered Throne. Then we talk about a wild week of news (32:41) including Bungie’s divorce from Activision, messy litigation at Gearbox, and EA cancelling its open-world Star Wars game. (And, oh, hey, Kotaku broke all three of those stories.) We close things off with an off-topic chat (1:18:58), the NFL playoff story of the week, and Kirk’s music pick.
Get the MP3 here, or read an excerpt:
Maddy: I recall reading a story by you Jason earlier today saying that perhaps EA should not be making Star Wars games any more. I don’t necessarily disagree.
I also saw some fun takes from friends of mine saying, "It’d be so great if there were a Star Wars game jam where everybody could make a Star Wars game, and there were a bunch of really small, fun indie Star Wars games," because that’s something we really never get to see. That take had me really scratching my head and wondering what that would look like if that were even possible.
Jason: If it were accurate, it’d be a game jam except everyone would have to go through LucasArts’ approval processes. So it’d be a 24-hour game jam except you have to wait two months to get every character change approved.
Maddy: I still think even that’d be better because it’d result in a bunch of different permutations and ideas of ways to do things in the Star Wars universe. I was lecturing you today about how the cartoons are really good in Star Wars because they follow different kinds of characters —
Jason: If by lecturing you mean a one-line note in an article.
Maddy: Briefly noting at you that they’re important and should be noted in an article about any Star Wars property. But yeah I think there are a lot of cool Star Wars stories out there, and I’m just kinda sad that the games tend to be these huge sprawling epics.
So in some ways hearing that the game is going to be a smaller-ish game is good news to me, but it’d be neat if it could be something totally different.
Jason: Agreed. I think it’s very early, they don’t even know what the direction’s gonna look like, for what it’s worth. Kirk, what do you make of all this Star Wars news?
Kirk: Not a huge reaction. A game got cancelled, to me that’s not that wild. It does seem as though EA has had a hard time getting Star Wars games out.
Jason: Well, what’s wild is the context around Star Wars games. In the past six years, since EA has signed the deal with LucasArts, they’ve shipped two Star Wars games — Battlefront and Battlefront 2 — as well as a couple mobile games. That’s not what fans were hoping for when they heard that EA would get this exclusive console licence to Star Wars.
Kirk: No, but at the same time, games get cancelled, it happens. Maybe this was the right decision for them to make.
It seems to me like they just haven’t been able to line up a dedicated studio that just makes Star Wars games the way that LucasArts did back in the day, which everybody looks at as this heyday of Star Wars video games where they weren’t all movie tie-ins and there were all these different kinds of games.
There are a lot of creative people telling Star Wars stories, and some of them were really good — like Dark Forces has a great story. And so on. And it’d be cool to see that again. I don’t know how that happens because Maddy, like you said, all the games are these huge people-pleasers that you kind of have to be because Star Wars is so massive at this point.
Maddy: Yeah but does it have to be? I feel like even Star Wars has sort of stopped doing that — there are still the big people-pleaser movies but they’ve broken up the iceberg into these little other bits by having the cartoons for weirdos like me, and then the Han Solo movie which like two people liked and I wasn’t one of them, and all this other Star Wars in there...
I think it’d be cool if the games went on that same property, like yeah you have a couple of tent pole games now and then, but make some little ones.
Kirk: I completely agree, and I’d love to see that, but it just seems like there haven’t been the tentpole games so they keep swinging for that. Because understandably, they want to make the game that makes a kajillion dollars — the Uncharted Star Wars game, or the Red Dead Redemption Star Wars game. The huge, unbelievable open-world triple-A billion dollar thing.
It almost feels like they need to get that out of their system, and they need to make that. Because Battlefront has never been that, and everybody wanted that from the first Battlefront — oh, it doesn’t have a story campaign, I just want to play Dark Forces, Jedi Knight. Instead it’s a multiplayer shooter, and it’s fun, it makes money, but it’s not what people want.
And then the news that keeps coming out is, oh another thing that might have been what people want got cancelled. So the expectations get built up, and it raises the stakes to the point where it’s probably really hard to meet the expectations and make the thing, so it perversely makes it more and more difficult to actually make the game everybody wants to play.
Instead of doing that, it’d be cool of they changed focus — let’s make a bunch of whatever. A Telltale adventure game, lightsaber VR, a mobile game, a whole bunch of different things. I don’t know if I see that happening, unless Jason, your prediction comes true and Lucas and Disney are like, "OK no more EA, let’s let a bunch of people make games for us," which would be great.