It appears that the Star Wars videogame empire will rise again...under the EA banner. After appearing temporarily collapsed when new overseers, Disney shut down the longstanding home-based developer/publisher, LucasArts last month, it has been announced that EA has signed a multi-year exclusive deal with the new Disney-sized Star Wars franchise to develop and publish games on a global basis.
Upon the announcement of LucasArts' demise, Disney's proposed plan was to follow a license-based model. Indeed, today's news fulfills that model with the monolithic company who has published Star Wars titles in the past like the Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic RPG series and Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. With the developmental and publishing power of EA by Disney's side on the prospective major titles, the empire of Mickey retains rights to the smaller games targeted for phones and tablets.
As EA Labels President, Frank Gibeau muses on the official site:
"Today, The Walt Disney Company has announced that they have chosen EA to create new Star Wars experiences for gamers worldwide. The magic of Star Wars is interwoven into the worlds, characters, planets and amazing battles. It is a universe that lends itself perfectly to gaming. Our agreement unlocks a whole new future of Star Wars games that will span consoles, PCs, tablets, mobile and more."
Also notable, is that EA will retain the use of teams from its labels, DICE, Visceral, and BioWare on the development of what should be a steady array of Star Wars projects. So, while the fall of LucasArts remains a sad sign of changing times, it may prove more symbolic than substantive. As Gibeau comments on the developmental teams:
"These imaginative teams will make games that may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories. Powering it all will be the Frostbite 3 development engine – guaranteeing incredible graphic fidelity, environments and characters."
It will certainly be interesting to see what EA has in store for Star Wars fans, or if they may be so inclined to pick up the pieces of the much-mythologized LucasArts shooter project, Star Wars 1313, which was indefinitely shelved by Disney. The specifics will surely be sprinkling in the coming weeks and months.