Four years ago, in 2013, Electronic Arts signed an exclusive multi-year licensing agreement with Disney and Lucasfilm to develop and publish several AAA Star Wars games for “all interactive platforms”. The results of that deal so far haven’t borne much fruit.
Disney planned on developing their own mobile/social titles at the time, but that idea was scrapped. EA has so far delivered two games – “Star Wars: Battlefront” in 2015 and “Star Wars: Battlefront II” in 2017. The first was a success – scoring good sales and OK critical reviews, acclaimed for its look but heavily criticised for its lack of single player, its repetitive nature, and its lack of levels with much of it hidden away behind costly DLC packs.
“Star Wars: Battlefront II” hoped to fix some of those criticisms, instead it became something of a poster child for everything wrong with the modern game industry’s practices in regards to microtransactions and loot boxes, so much so it was something of a PR embarrassment not just for EA but for the “Star Wars” brand as well.
Combined with the long delays and overhaul of “Uncharted” creator Amy Hennig and Visceral Games’ “Star Wars” game, and with no word on Respawn Entertainment’s action-adventure title based in the “Star Wars” universe, there are obvious questions about EA’s handling of the marquee franchise.
Now a new rumor is circulating suggesting that EA may be on the verge of losing their licensing agreement for “Star Wars” games. Cinelinx reports that Lucasfilm is unhappy with the current arrangement and are allegedly looking at other studios to potentially take over the licensing deal – with feelers out to both Activision and Ubisoft to possibly replace EA.
The report has NOT been confirmed. EA’s deal with Disney is widely believed to be an exclusive publishing agreement, not a developing agreement, and the report suggests there are stipulations of them pulling the license if certain standards/conditions are not being met.
In related news, the mess over ‘Battlefront II’ has now led to four legislative bills now making the rounds in Hawaii which aim to limit the implementation of electronic gambling systems within certain video games (namely loot boxes) and stop predatory payment practices. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that two of those bills propose to prohibit the sale of any game featuring a system such as this to anyone under the age of 21.
The other two require game publishers to prominently label games containing such randomized purchase systems, as well as disclose the probability rates of receiving each loot box reward. The bills aim to stem the exploitation of children with psychologically manipulative practices that encourage them to gamble real money on virtual goods.