As we reported this week, EA just got the exclusive rights to publish all Star Wars games in the future. As one of the largest video game company in existence, it’s likely EA had to fork out loads of cash to get this exclusive deal. EA will now have the rights to produce Star Wars games for the “core gaming audience” whereas Disney, who canned developer LucasArts just last month, will retain the rights to design Star Wars games for mobile, social and online gamers.
So now that the big news has been announced, it seems everyone has an opinion and Time doesn’t seem to be taking a positive stance on this new relationship. Here’s a snippet from a piece they did that discusses the topic and SWTOR at length:
And yet EA has a spotty track record when it comes to franchise tie-ins. Whereas handing a major property off to a smaller, more creatively flexible studio can yield the occasional (and completely unexpected) Batman: Arkham Asylum, LEGO Star Wars, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay or Star Trek: Bridge Commander, the challenge when you ritualize conceptuality, then attempt to wring creativity from individuals on exacting timelines complicated by multi-platform demands and implacable shareholders is…well, it’s all but insurmountable. The result, more often than not, is mediocrity, and that’s typically your best-case scenario.
With that in mind, here’s why I think the EA-Star Wars deal can’t possibly work…or, you know, maybe could, given the stars and planets aligning.
EA’s initial trip down Star Wars lane was confused and tedious
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a decent single-player romp masquerading as a mediocre massively multiplayer one. For all its nerdy narrative depth, The Old Republic runs out of steam too fast, sacrificing dynamic longevity for at best storytelling competency. Compared to NCsoft’s Guild Wars 2, the apotheosis of sprawling world-building MMOs, The Old Republic feels quaint and sadly upstaged.
The company’s tie-in track record is disgraceful
Observe the Harry Potter games, based on J.K. Rowling‘s ridiculously successful books: The films alone are among the highest-grossing of all time. EA had the Harry Potter film license from The Sorceror’s Stone to the final Deathly Hallows duology, and yet — with the arguable exception of EA Bright Light’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – the games, in particular those final few, were utterly forgettable. Then you’ve got stuff like: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction, Batman Begins, The Godfather II, Rango, the so-so 007 series and all of the depressingly pedestrian Lord of the Rings tie-ins (save for The Battle of Middle-earth II). Those two exceptions aside, I can’t think of a truly memorable EA video game/movie tie-in. Can you?
They go on to give some more reasons why this EA deal is the pits. And I have to admit they are pretty spot on with all the reasons. However… they balance it out with some good reasons why EA just might be able to pull it off, after all. One being of course, that they have the budget and the resources to make this work.
Some other reasons Time gives: the game engine already exists, EA has motivation to prove the haters wrong and of course, those resources available to them are huge.
So what do you think? Will EA be able to bring justice to the future of Star Wars games or are we all doomed?