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EA took over as custodians of the Star Wars video game franchise over five years ago now; depending on the exact wording of the agreement, their ten-year deal either started with the release of the Star Wars Battlefront in 2015 or with the beginning of its development. During that time, however, the franchise has been engaged in a lot of controversy; first was the quality of the games themselves, then loot boxes and finally the inconsistency of releases compared to past publishers.
There’s also the divisive move to cancel Visceral Games’ third person Star Wars shooter, a game that was highly anticipated since it was originally announced. Furthermore, their two releases in the franchise have been incredibly divisive; based on how regular their releases have been, the remainder of time left on the license may not be enough to release a quality Star Wars game. These issues have ended up in a variety of petitions being started online begging for the license to be taken off EA. However, it’s recently been rumored that executives at Disney (who own the Star Wars license) have been having closed-door meetings with other publishers about creating new games. The two most notable companies they’ve reportedly met with are Activision and Ubisoft.
According to a number of reports, Disney has a clause in their agreement with EA that stipulates certain requirements and standards are maintained; should Disney feel that they’re not, then they can nullify the contract. With that in mind, it looks as though Disney are getting their ducks in order with a new publisher before dropping EA from the Star Wars license. If reports are correct, then this could lead to a massive change in the Star Wars landscape. While reports don’t suggest whether other publishers were considered for the license, it seems obvious that they’ve decided on giving the license to either of the two.
While Activision can clearly bring a lot of expertise to the franchise and take it in a new direction, Ubisoft may be the right direction to go. There are a few significant reasons for this. The first is that both Activision and EA have been competing heavily in the first-person shooter realm for quite some time, and will likely be focused on the fight between Destiny and Anthem well into the next few years. This could explain why EA wasn’t able to put too much effort into their Star Wars titles, but it leaves open the question as to whether the same thing will happen at Activision.
The second reason is because Ubisoft has improved on its quality significantly over the past few years. The Assassin’s Creed publisher had quickly become known as launching buggy and oftentimes unplayable games; many players joked that they wouldn’t get the game until the second or third patch so it’d actually be playable. However, with the release of Rainbow Six Siege Ubisoft began creating a culture of transparency with fans and opened several dialogue channels with players. This led to Rainbow Six Siege becoming one of the better games of the year once bugs were patched out. The game eventually went on to sell 27 million copies.
Ubisoft also learned to focus more on quality than quantity and announced that the Assassin’s Creed franchise would no longer be an annual release; this would give the publisher and developers more time to fine-tune the game and release it in a better state. This also helped with the release of Far Cry 5; the publisher delayed release in order to improve the game to better meet fan expectations. As a result, it was one of the better received games in the year.
Suggested Reading: The Hero’s Journey of Knights of the Old Republic
Looping back to the original point; what does this have to do with Star Wars? It could mean everything; if Disney has a choice between Activision and Ubisoft then the latter should be the front runner to take the Star Wars license. While Activision is best known for its shooters, it’s one of the few genres that they excel in; Ubisoft, on the other hand, has shown that it’s able to create amazing games across a variety of different genres. The ones that they excel in – action, open-world and RPGs – just so happen to be the genres that would best suit a quality Stars Wars game. With Ubisoft on-board, players could finally see a game that could rival Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in quality.