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Where Will EA Go with Star Wars?

Disney and Electronic Arts just announced a multi-year licensing deal in which the gaming behemoth will have exclusive rights to make games in the Star Wars universe. Disney won’t be letting EA have the rights to mobile gaming platforms, but EA does get the rights to make Star Wars games for pretty much everything else.

Since Disney acquired Star Wars, everyone has been simultaneously excited to have George Lucas out of the picture when it comes to the movie franchise and nervous about the future of LucasArts, which Disney decided to shut down last month. At least investors are excited; stocks jumped after the announcement.

Successful Games from the Franchise’s Past

There’s plenty of reason for PC and console gamers alike to be excited about new life being pumped into the Star Wars gaming franchise to go along with Disney’s prodigious plan to release new films in the universe from now until the Apocalypse. There have been many successful titles that gamers are still playing, and hopefully we’ll even see some new ventures.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: The beta for Star Wars: The Old Republic was really promising, and players who had high-end gaming PCs could really appreciate the game with the graphics turned up to 11. And even after all those lovely textures were dumbed down after launch, the digital world is still one of the most stunning of all the MMOs out there. But with that game’s player-base still going strong, will EA want to introduce another MMORPG into the mix? My guess is no.

Knights of the Old Republic: This was one of Bioware’s most phenomenal successes, giving us one of the best decision-based RPGs out there, pushing your character alternately evil or good depending on your decisions. Mass Effect fans can thank KOTOR for the success of this type of game-play. The success of other RPGs of late, especially Skyrim, leads me to believe that EA could have a real blockbuster on their hands, especially if they give people the world-building mod capability that Bethesda put into that massive hit.

Star Wars: Unleashed: Another LucasArts win for the button-mashing crowd who always wanted to force-choke a Storm Trooper or take down a Wookie with a little lightning. The graphics were intense; showcasing precisely what Lucas’ studio was truly good at. Some RPG elements made this title replayable to an extent, though the world didn’t feel as open as KOTOR I & II. These kinds of games are on par with movie releases, so I don’t doubt we’ll see some flavor of action gaming like this with every new Star Wars title.

Star Wars: Battlefront: LucasArts got out of the FPS game just as things were really heating up for the genre. Battlefront never made it onto the latest generation of consoles or PCs, going away just as online PVP really became huge. The game was okay for the generation it came from, and I would have loved to see an installment with updated graphics and a bevy of new multiplayer maps. I don’t doubt that EA would be interested in getting the Star Wars brand back into contention for players who are currently getting their trigger-finger satisfaction from Black Ops and the like.

Why EA?

A lot of people are curious why Disney didn’t decide to give their own game publishing wing a shot in the arm after their $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm and all things Star Wars. Given the lackluster track-record that Disney has with games, however, they may just be looking to get their money’s worth by letting EA buy the license and do their thing.

The shuttering of LucasArts makes it clear that Disney sees its real potential in non-gaming avenues for the time being. Perhaps that’s for the best; video games are a different animal than the TV and film properties that Disney is used to promoting. They’ve seen plenty of dollar signs from their success with Marvel films, and I don’t doubt they can do the same with Star Wars.

What games would you like to see added to the franchise? A resurrected LucasArts project, maybe? How about a Star Wars RTS? Let us know in the comments below.

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