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Has EA Ruined Their Chance With Star Wars?

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
While there are quite a few people who stand by Battlefront 2, a lot of other gamers aren't happy with how EA has been handling their exclusivity to the Star Wars licence.

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Why EA Should Lose the Star Wars License

The Star Wars franchise boasts an expansive presence in the realm of entertainment. It’s one of the biggest movie franchises that sees millions upon millions of dollars at the box office. Each new television show is met with critical praise and commercial success. As for video games, it stands as one of the biggest failures of the current generation, and it’s all thanks to EA. We’re early into 2019, and the publisher has already caused an uproar in the gaming industry. In just a little over a year since shutting down Visceral Games and cancelling “Ragtag”, EA has cancelled yet ANOTHER Star Wars game. Under the codename “Orca”, this was the game that was reworked from “Ragtag”, and it didn't even make it past early development. Strap yourselves in, folks. This is going to be a salty video…

In light of “Orca's” cancellation, the gaming community has restarted the conversation on whether or not EA should lose the “Star Wars” license. Let's cut right to the chase - yes, yes, yes , and a thousand times YES!! Since securing the rights with Disney back in 2013, EA has managed to spew out two “Star Wars” games - “Star Wars Battlefront” in 2015 and “Star Wars Battlefront II” in 2017. Both were online multiplayer shooters that employed scandalous business practices in order maximize profits. “Battlefront 2015” not only demanded sixty dollars for an unfinished product, but it also wanted fifty dollars for a season pass - a season pass that finally made the game feel like it should have been at launch. As for “Battlefront II”, the game was originally built around a pay-to-win economy, forcing players to buy lootboxes in order to obtain high-level ability cards. It took about a month of anger from consumers, government officials, and, eventually; Disney themselves. EA shutdown its microtransactions mere hours before the standard version of “Battlefront II” launched. At this point, its safe to say that EA has squandered any opportunity it had to make a good “Star Wars” game. Yet, the disappointment doesn’t stop there!

In addition to launching two of the biggest disappointments of this generation, EA has cancelled TWO single-player “Star Wars” games. The aforementioned “Ragtag” game was to be a single-player linear adventure. At the helm of the project was Amy Hennig, who had previously written and directed some of the “Legacy of Kain” games, “Jak 3”, and the first 3 “Uncharted” games. With a name like hers attached to a project, you can almost guarantee the game is going to sell like hotcakes! As one would expect, EA wasn’t happy with the game being a linear adventure and decided to cancel the whole thing. EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson insisted “Ragtag” wasn’t cancelled because it was single-player, but because it wasn’t following trends in the market. (Sure, EA...Sure.) Not only did EA cancel the project, but they also shutdown Visceral Games. Assets were then handed off to EA Vancouver so that the project (now “Orca”) can follow more closely to what EA wanted - an open-world game that’ll make players want to “come back and enjoy for a long time”. (Psst! That’s code for “live service”!) And now, that game has been cancelled because it would take too long to develop.

(Side Note: How could a major gaming company not realize that an open world game with space travel would take a long time to develop? Are EA really that incompetent?)

To explain (but not really explain) the situation: EA released a statement following reports of the cancellation of “Orca”, QUOTE: “There’s been speculation overnight about one of our Star Wars projects. As a natural part of the creative process, the great work by our team in Vancouver continues and will evolve into future Star Wars content and games. We’re fully committed to making more Star Wars games, …” I’m going to stop you right there EA, and call BS on you’re ‘Fully committed’ pledge … here’s why.

In 2016, “Rebel Galaxy” developer Double Damage Games; put together a pitch for what could have been an exciting space shooter, where players could pilot a variety of “Star Wars” vehicles. The footage showed the player switching between the Millenium Falcon and an X-Wing during an explosive fight against an Imperial Star Destroyer. Double Damage clearly had a vision, but EA didn’t want anything to do with it and outright rejected the game. To their credit, maybe there is something in the contract that forbids EA from partnering with studios outside the company. However, until we get confirmation on this detail, we can't forgive EA for passing that opportunity. Double Damage is now reworking the game into “Rebel Galaxy Outlaw” set for release later this year, and already it looks amazing, you can be sure as hell we’re going to be covering that.

And lets not forget the handful of Star Wars projects that were in the works from the now defunt LucasArts, including the nearly finished “Star Wars First Assault” and the highly anticipated “Star Wars 1313”. The EA deal was signed only a month after the closure of that studio, so EA had the perfect opportunity to pick up nearly completed projects that would have been far more ready to ship sooner. Yet they chose not to, in favour of their own titles.

And what have they got to show for their own titles? Two appalling online shooters that have soiled the brand's reputation as a gaming franchise. EA has five years left to belt out something decent. At the time of writing, we only know of three games in development. In Fall 2019, Respawn will launch their awkwardly titled “Jedi Fallen Order” game, which still hasn’t revealed any gameplay - not even a logo or concept art! Then, there’s Capital Games’s “Star Wars: Rise to Power”, which is a strategy game for iOS and Android... like we don’t already have enough of those. As for this third game from EA Vancouver? Who knows what that could be. Allegedly, it’ll have a small enough scale for the game to be pushed out sometime in 2020. In other words, don’t expect anything impressive.

From everything we’ve covered, one can see why “Star Wars” fans and gamers alike are crying out for Disney to pull the plug. Even the writer of “Rogue One”, Gary Whitta, is calling for the license to be revoked! Unfortunately, EA won’t be losing the license...not immediately, anyways. Disney and EA signed a 10-year contract. If Disney truly was shopping “Star Wars” to other studios, it would have done so back when “Battlefront II” was dragging the brand through mud. On top of that, finding a new studio/publisher on short notice; would mean a long wait before we got to see another “Star Wars” game. It’s too late for Disney to spend the time and money just to terminate the deal. EA, on the other hand, would be facing a serious dilemma. Not only would a revocation force three more games getting cancelled, but more studios would be at risk of shutting down. Both Disney and EA would most likely suffer major financial losses and many people would lose their jobs. At this point, the best option for both parties is to ride out the remaining five years without stepping on anyone’s toes. Before the contract expires on May 6, 2023.

The lesson to learn here is that EA doesn’t seem to care about “Star Wars”. The publisher has proven that it cares more about brand recognition and profit margins, than shipping out quality products. After all, EA themselves labelled “Battlefront II” a disappointment due to the game selling ONLY seven million units. (Their target was eight million…) Ignoring their shady business practices, and the fact that their game forced countries to change their gambling laws. both “Battlefront” games were hastily rushed out the door to coincide with the releases of “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” respectivly. EA seems to have no confidence that Star Wars games would sell on their own and decided to release them as if they were movie tie-ins.

Upon shutting down Visceral Games and cancelling “Ragtag”, CFO Blake Jorgensen made an blindly ignorant remark that players “don’t like [linear games] as much today as they did five years ago or ten years ago...You gotta cut the bridge when you realize you can’t make a lot of money on something.” Keep in mind that Jorgensen stated this in late 2017. The same year, “Horizon Zero Dawn”, “Persona 5”, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”, and “Super Mario Odyssey” had accomplished impressive sales numbers. The only single-player game EA had whittled away that same year was “Mass Effect: Andromeda”, a disastrous mess that put the “Mass Effect” franchise on ice. 2018 would further disprove Jorgensen’s notions thanks to the monumental successes of “God of War”, “Marvel’s Spider-Man”, “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey”, and “Red Dead” Redemption II”. Hell its only February and 2019 already has 2 Game of the Year Contenders that are single player titles: “Resident Evil 2” & “Kingdom Hearts III” both of which are already reporting strong early sales.

EA has made it clear where its head is at; if it can’t be heavily monetized and made with little effort, why put it out? However, there is a possible solution. If they haven’t done so already due to an NDA; Disney could already start looking for other studios to release a Star Wars title after the May 2023 expiration date and sign a new deal granting rights to release a game after the current deal has expired. 5 years would certainly give someone else a lot of development time to make a big Star Wars title.

So, who else would be better for the “Star Wars” franchise? Well since we do speciliase in Lists on YouTube, It is therefore MojoPlay’s Internet duty to provide you with the Top 5 companies who should be allow to use the Star Wars License.

#5: Double Damage

Considering we already talked about their Space Combat pitch earlier, this is a no brainer.

#4: Insomniac Games

Given their recent success with the Marvel licensed “Spider-Man” and their Sci-Fi adventure series “Ratchet & Clank.” They have the potential to give audiences an exciting adventure game, perhaps one starring our favorite smuggler and ace pilot?

#3: Devolver Digital

They’ve been eager to take a crack at “Star Wars”, even going so far as to tweet out their resume to the “Star Wars” Twitter account.

#2: Ubisoft

Say what you want about Ubisoft, but they’re proven to have the In-house resources required, to tackle a multitude of Star Wars titles under different genres.

#1: Literally Anyone Else

I mean COME ON! It’s Star Wars. What passionate game developer hasn’t dreamed of making a Star Wars title? One that isn’t sabotaged by dumbass business decisions?

Yes, EA should definitely lose the license, but it won’t. There’s simply not enough time left for Disney to spend additional resources in finding a new partner before their curent contract expires. Disney’s best bet is to start preparing new deals to go in effect after May 2023.

Mark your calendars people. Assuming Disney is smart enough to not renew the EA deal; May 7th, 2023 will be “Star Wars Redemption Day.”

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