EA and Lucasfilm have pulled the brakes on a fan-made Star Wars game billed as an unofficial ‘Battlefront 3’.
Galaxy in Turmoil was being created by Frontwire Studios, a team comprised of part-time devs, which was set up specifically to make the title.
While the game planned to use character and ship designs from the Star Wars universe, Frontwire president Tony Romanelli reassured fans that because the game would be released for free – helped by an announced publishing deal with Valve – and the studio had not sought any money for its development it would be classified as a ‘parody’ – and therefore protected from copyright squabbles by fair use laws.
However, despite this assurance, Lucasfilm issued a cease and desist to the studio in June. Romanelli recounted in a blog post on Frontwire’s blog that he subsequently met with executives from the film studio to negotiate.
“Lucasfilm informed me that although they would of been open to the idea of negotiating a license for Frontwire to work on the Star Wars IP, that they are not able to due to their contract with Electronic Arts,” he explained.
“I was told that Lucasfilm had already spoken with EA about Galaxy in Turmoil and that EA expressed no desire in letting our project continue.
“Their main concern was due to the possibility of Galaxy in Turmoil taking away attention from their Battlefront franchise. I tried to pitch the idea about putting Galaxy in Turmoil behind EA’s paywall but was told that EA had previously rejected that proposition as well. Due to their exclusive contract with EA, Lucasfilm was contractually obligated to deny our request for the use of the Star Wars IP for Galaxy in Turmoil based on EA’s decision.”
Regarding the fair use safety net he previously cited, Romanelli reiterated his belief that Galaxy in Turmoil was legally sound.
“While I and our attorneys still believe that we fall under the Fair Use law, I have no desire to get into any type of legal battle with Lucasfilm, and lose due to the sheer amount of money Lucasfilm has,” he stated.
“At the end of the day Star Wars is Lucasfilm’s property, and they have every right to request Frontwire stop using their IP, even if we believe that we were within legal limits.”
Romanelli also urged fans to accept the decision without blaming the Star Wars IP owners.
“While I do wish EA would realise that backing a free fan game would actually be an effective way to help and promote their brand, their decision is final, and we as both a business and as a community must respect that,” he said.
While Galaxy in Turmoil will be unable to continue as a game set in the Star Wars universe, Romanelli said that while the title’s assets were based on the iconic sci-fi brand, they had all been created from scratch by Frontwire – leaving the door open for the project to still see release.
“Upon speaking with Lucasfilm, they informed us that they have no issue with a Battlefront inspired game that is not using the Star Wars IP itself,” he clarified. “Regardless of what some have said, all of our code, sounds and many other non-Star Wars assets have been created in-house, which means they are indeed owned by us.
“Going forward, Frontwire Studios will be pivoting away from Star Wars and embarking on a mission to create a new, original game in a never before seen universe.”