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Star Wars: The Age of EA

Posted on the 07 May 2013 by Findthebluekey @FindTheBlueKey

EADeathStarComing hot on the heels of the announcement that LucasArts would be shutting its doors, an announcement was recently made revealing that EA, lovingly known as the worst company in America, has acquired an exclusive license to produce Star Wars titles for the foreseeable future. With the mountain of poor business decisions and unremarkable games, my gut reaction was probably similar to many: A healthy mixture of disappointment, rage and concern.

But after tempering that feeling and getting down to think about it, there may just be hope yet.

Star Wars games will always hold a special place in my heart. As with any geek worth their salt, I grew up with a healthy obsession with Star Wars. The universe they had created sucked me in, and the games gave me a chance to dive head first into it. Star Wars games contain some of my fondest gaming memories. From heroically defening Kashyyyk with a single unit remaining in Battlefront 2, to my first experience with the “big twist” reveal in KOTOR, many-a Star Wars title have their rightful place in my Pantheon of gaming influences.

So, needless to say, I remain actively concerned with their fate.

Also needless to say, I have no great love of the way EA seems to be running their gaming empire at this point. A vast majority of their recent decisions seem to show that their out of touch at best, or blindly ignorant at worst. So were I to make a list of companies I’d like to see take over my beloved Star Wars franchise, you can bet that EA would be nowhere on it.

But maybe, just maybe, there is a bit of hope to be gleaned from this situation.

This small glimmer of hope comes from the stable of development studios that EA currently owns, and it’s a pretty all-star lineup no matter which way you slice it. Developers like BioWare, DICE and Visceral are now amongst the roster of potential developers for a new Star Wars title. Even with some slip-ups, these studios have proved to be consistent, dependable studios capable of producing an extremely high quality product.

The trouble that these studios always seem to have is interference from EA. Forced multiplayer elements, microtransactions, Always-On DRM…you can bet your bottom dollar that these were not elements the developers insisted on.

With the mention of BioWare comes the inevitable mention of KOTOR, the two just can’t be separated. What I like about this whole situation is that from EA’s standpoint, it almost seems practical to just hand the reins over to BioWare, allowing them creative control over the project. A sequel to KOTOR, being one of the most highly sought after games from the perspective of fans, has to be on EA’s mind after purchasing these rights. Seeing as no one really knows why the original KOTOR became such a hit, why wouldn’t EA simply take a step back from the project and let BioWare work their magic.

Well, because they’re EA, that’s why. But a guy can dream.

As I’m writing, it strikes me that all of this can come across as overly optimistic, and perhaps a little naive. It’s true that on some level, I simply don’t want to believe that the entirety of my beloved franchise are in the hands of lunatics, but I do believe there’s a grain of truth in what I’m saying.

EA is a company that needs to do something drastic. Their current business practices have earned them nothing but consumer lashback, their titles are poorly received, sales are down and they have quickly become on of the most infamous companies in the world. This is the time when companies begin to try anything to change up the formula. Allowing a company like BioWare or DICE to simply craft a great game free of any corporate meddling seems as good a starting point as any.

But now that the dust has settled, and EA has come up with the licenses for Star Wars titles, there is only one question that remains in my mind. Who on earth will buy the rights for Day of the Tentacle?!? Seriously, someone needs to get on that.

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