Electronic Arts Signs Exclusive Star Wars Game Deal With Disney

Star Wars screen

DICE and Visceral will join BioWare in developing all-new games for the Star Wars franchise.

You might think that in the wake of the The Old Republic debacle, Electronic Arts would be a bit gun-shy about signing a long-term deal with the Disney behemoth that commits some of its best-known studios to creating even more Star Wars games. But you would be wrong! Because that’s exactly what EA has done.

Specifics, as usual, are in short supply but the bottom line is that the companies have signed a “multi-year exclusive licensing agreement” in which EA will develop “core” games “spanning all interactive platforms and the most popular game genres,” while Disney retains development rights for mobile, social, tablet and online Star Wars games.

“Every developer dreams of creating games for the Star Wars universe,” EA Labels President Frank Gibeau said in a statement. “Three of our top studios will fulfill that dream, crafting epic adventures for Star Wars fans. DICE and Visceral will produce new games, joining the BioWare team which continues to develop for the Star Wars franchise.”

The move confirms that Disney’s decision to pull the plug on LucasArts did not signal a loss of interest in the videogame scene, but rather a desire to shift responsibility for the development of future Star Wars games into the hands of a company with some actual expertise in the field. But it’s decision to team with EA – or actually, EA’s willingness to sign on the dotted line – is a little puzzling. In some ways, it’s a natural fit; BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most well-regarded Star Wars games to come out in the past decade. But BioWare is also the studio responsible for one of the most infamous (and expensive) videogame train wrecks of all time, the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. It’s also no secret that movie licenses aren’t the gold mine they were once believed to be, as anyone who used to work at THQ can attest.

Even so, and despite everything that’s happened post-Jedi, the Star Wars brand carries a powerful cachet and Gibeau said that while some of the games developed by EA “may borrow from films,” they will nonetheless “be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay.” Neither company commented on the possibility that the deal could resurrect Star Wars 1313, which fell victim to the LucasArts closure, but given how much people were looking forward to it, it probably wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Neither would, say, a new TIE Fighter – just something to think about if anyone from EA happens to be reading.

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