Electronic Arts is now the proud owner of a near-exclusive licence to create Star Wars games, with Disney withholding only online, social and mobile gaming for itself.
The Walt Disney Company, as part of its acquisition of Star Wars creator Lucasfilm, has signed a near-exclusive deal with publisher Electronic Arts to create future games set in the universe.
The agreement sees EA given exclusive rights to create new titles set in the Star Wars universe for what Disney describes as 'a core gaming audience, spanning all interactive platforms and the most popular game genres.
' Disney, however, retains the rights to new titles in the mobile, social, tablet and online categories itself - with the latter meaning that any future Star Wars massively multiplayer on-line (MMO) title will come direct from Disney, the company having apparently seen the piles of cash raked in by Activision-Blizzard's World of Warcraft over the years.
'This agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come,
' claimed John Pleasants, co-president of Disney Interactive. 'Collaborating with one of the world’s premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to our fans around the world.
'Every developer dreams of creating games for the Star Wars universe,
' added EA Labels president Frank Gibeau. 'Three of our top studios will fulfil that dream, crafting epic adventures for Star Wars fans. DICE and Visceral will produce new games, joining the BioWare team which continues to develop for the Star Wars franchise. The new experiences we create may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay.
The deal will see EA-owned BioWare allowed to continue producing role-playing games set in the Star Wars universe, as follow-ups to its existing Knights of the Old Republic titles. Where the exclusion of 'online-category' games leaves BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, however, is unknown - it's perfectly possible that the title will be allowed to wind down in favour of a reborn MMO under Disney's direction. The deal will also allow EA to produce new first-person shooters, spiritual succesors to the Dark Forces series previously created by Lucasfilm's gaming subsidiary LucasArts.
The mention of 'the most popular game genres
' could, potentially, give EA carte blanche to produce Star Wars-themed versions of its existing simulation titles, too: it would be unsurprising to see a Star Wars version of The Sims or a SimCity title set within the confines of the Star Wars universe. Add in a few third-person cover shooters for the console gamers, some kid-friendly racing titles and flight simulators to bring the classic X-Wing series back up to date and you can see that EA has scored itself a potentially lucrative deal - especially as it has the rights to both existing Star Wars films and the new films to be produced on an annual basis by Disney.
Disney itself, meanwhile, is banking on the explosive growth of tablet and mobile gaming. While Facebook games may have waned in popularity, a Star Wars franchise could help revive efforts under Disney's control, and there's little denying that Android and iOS gamers will likely lap up Star Wars mobile games if the company does a decent job of development.
Neither company has disclosed financial terms of the deal, but EA is believed to have parted with some serious cash to get its hands on the semi-exclusive contract.