News has just broken that EA’s exclusive arrangement with Disney to create games based around the Star Wars franchise has come to an end. Today Ubisoft has announced that it will be making a title in a galaxy far far away.
More specifically Malmo-based Massive Entertainment, creator of The Division and its sequel, will be taking the reins. The title is described as a “story-driven, open-world video game.” And although that description could cover almost anything these days, it does mean that we’re not purely looking at a games-as-a-service style battle royale.
Creative Director for the game, Massive’s Julian Gerighty said: “This is a lore that we love, and we want to do it justice with a game and story that bring both lifelong and new fans on an immersive and outstanding journey that will stay with them for years.”
Does that simply mean memorable for years, or actually developed and expanded for years? Either way, based on Massive’s previous work on The Division, we’d be very surprised if there wasn’t some sort of social or multiplayer element to the title, but a straight open world Star Wars adventure would certainly be very well-received by many. The game is set to use Massive’s own Snowdrop Engine, predictably.
“The vast Star Wars lore is an incredible source of inspiration for our teams,” said Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft. “This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games, and we are pleased to be working hand-in-hand to build upon the incredible legacy of Lucasfilm to create a game that we know Star Wars fans will love.”
Which brings us naively to the end of EA’s exclusive deal with Disney, which has been running since 2013 and was rumoured to have a couple more years left to run. Although the exact details aren’t know, and it’s wholly possible that by the time Massive’s game releases, EA would have had a full ten years of exclusive releases.
EA of course has come under considerable criticism of its handling of the license, most notably with Battlefield 2 and its microtransactions, along with a fairly slow release rate too. However, of late its slate has really picked up, with both Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars: Squadrons, providing critically acclaimed and varied experiences – and in Fallen Order a fantastic commercial success too.
There’s no suggestion here that EA will stop making Star Wars games, though. Only that Disney, or specifically its resurrected Lucasfilm Games imprint, will be working with many publishers and developers in order to create interactive experiences to fill out its perennially popular universe. “We get no shortage of folks knocking on our door, wanting to play with our toys,” Douglas Reilly, VP of Lucasfilm Games, told Wired.
And that popularity looks to be on the rise again, with Disney+ TV efforts generating more excitement and fan adoration than the troubled recent trilogy.
This news comes close the on heels that Lucasfilm Games, will be working with Bethesda, Todd Howard and (another Swedish developers) Machine Games, on an upcoming Indiana Jones game. We await an announcement around the Mel Smith-directed Radioland Murders any day.