Friday, May 10, 2013

And the license goes to...

EA will now be printing their own form of currency in the shape of Star Wars games. This week Disney gave the official announcement that Electronic Arts will be receiving exclusive rights to publish Star Wars branded games (Though that will not include mobile platforms.). I have been sitting on this to think about what it could end up really meaning to this franchise's games. One thing is that some of the best Star Wars games of recent memory came not from LucasArts but licensing deals; the biggie being Knights of the Old Republic which came out of BioWare the same developer that has a very cozy relationship with EA already. From what has already been said DICE and Visceral will be joining BioWare to make new games in a galaxy far far EA...

As to what I think about this whole move of Star Wars over to the "Worst Company" in America , I don't know. It is always exciting to play a Star Wars game, because I love that universe they inhabit as many others do; it is just hard to say what EA will have in store for the brand. Their trend in the last several years is to push everything to the center of the stream for the sake of sales. The example I think of as analogous to this is Mass Effect, specifically because I consider the first in the series to be real spiritual successor to
Knights of the Old Republic (Because the actual sequel didn't do much to build on the accomplishments of the predecessor.Yes, yes I am a blasphemer and should be burned at the stake; Not important right now.)  The trouble is that I think EA pushed BioWare to turn their brilliant action RPG into a shooter with some RPG elements by the end of the trilogy, and that bums me the hell out despite enjoying the series as a whole (Yes you people can burn me too.). The same thing has happened to Dead Space which started as horror game, but now has moved to a buddy cop shooter and not very scary one at that.

That is what gets to the heart of my fears. The industry is having a constant battle over innovation, originality, and guaranteed sales. BioWare took a chance making a MMORPG like The Old Republic, but since it was not a blow out success like a World of Warcraft for EA I don't think they will allow for another experiment
like that again. I think the same thing happened to Mirror's Edge despite the discussions of a sequel in the works (Maybe it will be a free running shooter.). Star Wars doesn't need a bunch of static shooters aiming to appease the shareholders and muckety mucks in the EA board room. They need a face and a story because what makes the Star Wars franchise worth a damn? The characters, not a faceless guy behind a gun.

I could be all wrong and my worries are all for naught, but until we find out what is up the emperor's sleaves  I shall maintain my extraordinarily cautious optimism. Maybe we will still see something good happen with the games already in the works 1313, First Assault, and Battlefront 3; the place that they have in publishing limbo is pretty frustrating especially if you had been looking forward to any of them the way I had.

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