Tomorrow marks three years since Disney and EA announced their multi-year partnership, allowing EA to exclusively produce Star Wars games. Since the announcement, EA has released Star Wars Battlefront for PS4/XB1/PC and Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes for Mobile and they have continued to support Star Wars The Old Republic through expansions. Each of these come with their own set of caveats, though. Battlefront lacks a story driven single player component, Galaxy of Heroes is a free-to-play mobile title with microtransactions, and The Old Republic requires a subscription fee to access its new expansions.
I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t the kind of output fans were hoping for when the partnership was originally announced. Star Wars is the kind of endless universe that allows for an incredible amount of creativity in story telling. Developers could use creative license to expose a new conflict between the Jedi and the Sith, explore the life of an ordinary citizen thrust into an extraordinary situation, or even put us in the shoes of a bounty hunter looking to make a name for him or herself.
Luckily, the list of upcoming Star Wars projects at EA is only growing. Unluckily, the details surrounding these projects are scarce…
Yesterday, EA and Respawn Entertainment, the creators of TitanFall, announced that they will be working together on a new, third-person action game in the Star Wars universe and that it will be directed by God of War 3‘s director, Stig Asmussen. Yesterday’s announcement does feel very early in the process, though. With no artwork shown and a number of job listings posted alongside the announcement, it seems as though Respawn’s project is just heading into full production and will likely be a few years out.
The Star Wars game that seems closest to release right now is Amy Hennig’s project out of Visceral Games. Hennig is best known for her work as the Creative Director of the Uncharted series at Naughty Dog. About a month after her departure from Naughty Dog, she broke the news that she would be joining Visceral and EA to work on a new game in the Star Wars universe. Since knowledge of the game became public, Hennig and her co-writer, Todd Stashwick, have been hinting quite a bit that the game may be based around Han Solo. With a Han Solo anthology film set for release in Summer 2018, it will be interesting to see how the two pieces of fiction play off of one another.
After Respawn and Visceral’s games, things start to become even less clear. Last summer, EA announced the creation of a new studio, EA Motive, in Montreal. Led by famed studio head Jade Raymond, Motive is currently supporting Visceral’s Star Wars title and also working on their own projects. What’s unclear is whether their internal games will take place in the Star Wars universe or if they will be part of an original IP.
Another studio that’s likely to be working on an unannounced Star Wars title is DICE. With the releases of Battlefront last fall and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst next month, as well as the rumored release of Battlefield 5 this fall, DICE is a multi-team studio in a period of transition. With their huge successes in art and sound design for Battlefront, it would be a shame to see them move on from the Star Wars universe after only one game. Plus, EA’s CFO teased more Battlefront games last November.
That leaves us with BioWare, a studio whose relationship with the Star Wars franchise goes back over a decade to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic from 2003. Since then, BioWare has gone on to release two hugely successful franchises in Dragon Age and Mass Effect. They also went back to the Star Wars well in 2011 with the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic and its five subsequent expansions. While The Old Republic is an MMORPG follow-up to Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) and Knights of the Old Republic 2, it seems unlikely that BioWare will be developing a single player Star Wars game anytime soon, much to the chagrin of KotOR fans everywhere.
So where does that leave us? Unfortunately, in no man’s land for now…at least in terms of official announcements. This June, however, EA has chosen to forego a traditional E3 presence in favor of its own event called EA Play. While it takes place during the same week as E3 and in the same city, spinning off and investing heavily in an independent show seems like a move worthy of some huge announcements. With one surprise already revealed, EA is certainly keeping some of its cards close to the vest. Here’s hoping they play them in June.