Zynga has been handed a multiyear, non-exclusive deal to create Star Wars games. The Disney licence has been passed to UK subsidiary NaturalMotion, with the Dawn of Titans dev working on new games – and taking over an existing property.
The option signed by Zynga is for one title to be developed initially, with a second optionally in future – it also passes management of live operations in Star Wars: Commander to the mobile publisher, again to be handled specifically by NaturalMotion.
Star Wars: Commander is estimated to have earned more than £62 million since its launch in 2014, though there’s no indication how future revenue will work for the internally developed Disney title. Its handing off is part of the gargantuan studio’s move away from in-house development, so isn’t totally unexpected.
“Star Wars is one of the most iconic franchises in the world and has engaged generations of fans for decades. As game makers and moviegoers, we’re huge fans of Star Wars and are excited to create new experiences for players that bring this beloved brand to life,” said Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau , “We look forward to extending the reach of the Star Wars universe and developing a new mobile game that entertains players for years to come and has the potential to be a future forever franchise for Zynga.”
NaturalMotion was acquired by Zynga back in 2014, with the $527 million (£409m in 2018) price tag accompanied by a round of lay-offs. Further lay-offs followed afterwards, the company’s founder left last year, and other staff brought in left not long after.
But after a mildly tumultuous few years, things seem to be calming down for Zynga (and so NaturalMotion). Being awarded the right to work on Star Wars licences could prove very positive for the company that was once on top of the mobile world.