EA’s hold over Star Wars games ends with Ubisoft’s open-world announcement

Enlarge / Artist’s conception of Ubisoft shoving EA out of the way in announcing its upcoming Star Wars game project.

Ubisoft will be publishing an open-world Star Wars game developed by The Division studio Massive Entertainment, the companies announced in a Wired story this morning.

Details are sparse, as even the specific characters and setting have yet to be revealed. But Wired’s reporting suggests the game will be an open-world title, aiming for a longer play-time than a more linear story-driven game like 2019’s Jedi: Fallen Order. The Division 2 and The Crew Director Julian Gerighty will serve as creative director on the game, which will use Massive’s Snowdrop engine.

The Ubisoft-published game will mark the apparent and abrupt end of Disney’s exclusivity deal with Electronic Arts, signed in 2013. That deal was reportedly planned to last ten years, which would have taken it through most of 2023.

The move away from EA is a little less surprising given the announcement this week that Disney is reviving the Lucasfilm Games brand, an announcement that noted it is beginning “a new era” of games “developed in collaboration with the finest studios across the industry.” Yesterday, that new era extended to include an upcoming Indiana Jones game developed by Wolfenstein: The New Order studio Machine Games and published by Bethesda.

EA’s short tenure leading the long-lived Star Wars video game brand has been a bumpy one. After 2015’s Star Wars: Battlefront, the company announced three major Star Wars projects in 2016. One of those titles, a story-focused project led by Uncharted scribe Amy Hennig, was cancelled in late 2017 when EA shut Visceral Studios.

Another turned into Star Wars: Battlefront 2, which quickly became a poster child for the problems with “pay-to-win” microtransactions in games upon its release in 2017, to the extent that EA was forced to remove real-money purchases from the game entirely. The third, Respawn’s Jedi: Fallen Order, sold over ten million copies after its 2019 launch and could be the start of a new franchise of games, according to EA.

“EA has been and will continue to be a very strategic and important partner for us now and going forward,” Disney Senior VP of Global Games and Interactive Experiences Sean Shoptaw told Wired. “But we did feel like there’s room for others.”

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