This article has been updated with a statement from EA.
Lucasfilm Games has announced that it's making a new open world Star Wars game with publisher Ubisoft, to be developed by The Division developer Ubisoft Massive. The news was revealed by Wired (opens in new tab), and later elaborated on by Lucasfilm itself, which described this moment as a 'Big Bang' for Star Wars gaming.
This marks the end of EA's exclusive license to develop games based on the Star Wars franchise, which was announced all the way back in 2013. Now, as well as its ongoing collaborations with EA, Lucasfilm wants to work with a host of developers to bring games to life using the company's IP – as the recent Indiana Jones game announcement indicates, that's not just limited to Star Wars.
"We’re looking to work with best-in-class teams that can make great games across all of our IP," Lucasfilm Games' VP Douglas Reilly told StarWars.com (opens in new tab). "We’ve got a team of professionals here at Lucasfilm Games who can work with the developers, shape the stories, shape the creative, shape the games, to make them really resonate with fans and deliver across a breadth of platforms, genres, and experiences so that all of our fans can enjoy the IPs that they know and love."
EA will still make Star Wars games, then, and Reilly teases that "a number of projects" are in the works at the publisher. It seems likely that EA will want to make a sequel to its massive-selling Jedi Fallen Order game, for example, which shifted 10 million copies.
EA has issued a statement on its future regarding Star Wars games. "We are proud of our long-standing collaboration with Lucasfilm Games, which will continue for years to come. Our talented teams have created some of the most successful games in the history of the Star Wars franchise, including Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefront II, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Star Wars: Squadrons. We love Star Wars, and we look forward to creating more exciting experiences for players to enjoy."
Expect more projects to be announced this year from the resurgent Lucasfilm Games label. "This is just the beginning of what I think is going to be a very exciting year for Lucasfilm Games," Reilly says. Last week marked the re-emergence of the branding for the first time in a long time – and these announcements are a sign of what's to come. Reilly says it's "going to continue to announce projects that are more representative of the legacy of the old Lucasfilm Games that we’re now trying to live up to."
Little else is known about Ubisoft's new Star Wars game, except that it'll be directed by Ubisoft's Julian Gerighty, and that it'll be made using the Snowdrop game engine. Wired characterizes development as "very early".
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What about EA?
EA's deal to make Star Wars games was reportedly a 10-year exclusivity agreement, and as indicated by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier, it doesn't appear to have been renewed past 2023.
With today's news that Ubisoft Massive is making a Star Wars game, it's official that the EA exclusivity arrangement won't be renewed past 2023. Good news for Star Wars fans and probably even for EA, whose current leaders inherited a licensing deal they never wantedJanuary 13, 2021
Wired's report mentions that Lucasfilm Games wouldn't comment on the timings of the EA deal, so how it affected what's just been announced is a mystery.
EA's had a mixed history with Star Wars, and its output has been pretty low considering it's had the license for almost eight years, but its recent form has been great. Jedi Fallen Order, Squadrons and the revamped Battlefront 2 are all strong examples of developers successfully taking the galaxy far, far away into existing gaming genres.
It's hard not to think there are a few missed opportunities along the way, though. EA owns Knights of the Old Republic developers BioWare, yet there has still been no singleplayer Star Wars RPG. EA outright cancelled a cinematic action game codenamed Project Ragtag, which was from Amy Hennig, creative director of the Uncharted series.
More choice for Star Wars fans is a good thing, and this potentially opens the door for more unusual takes on the saga in the gaming space.