Why EA Star Wars Games Are Actually A Good Thing
Cue the Imperial March theme. EA Star Wars games are coming.
Like many of my fellow Invaders, my immediate reaction to EA getting exclusive rights to the Star Wars video game license was FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK for about 30 minutes until I ended up breathing into a paper bag. Panic attack aside, before we get all up in galactic rebellion over the Worst Company in America (aka Video Game Hitler) controlling the Force, let’s look at the good (and bad) of EA Games having exclusive rights to Star Wars.
A New Hope
1. EA Games is one of the few publishers that can handle a Star Wars game budget.
It’s not like Star Wars is some sort of underground, indie darling that a giant company is gobbling up. Star Wars is a multi-billion dollar franchise on the verge of cultural irrelevance, and its success depends on very risky, large budget triple-A titles. EA Games, for all its shadiness at times, can fork up the cash for big games the series depends on. That’s probably the only thing we can certainly depend on, they will throw money at Star Wars games.
Another upside of this is maybe Origin may have some must-have content worth installing for. Think of it as a coming-out party. Origin may get its act together and start being a serious competitor to Steam with increasing its social community features, better exclusives, and increased servers for their multiplayer components.
2. BioWare makes quite excellent Star Wars titles.
I present the following:
BioWare already has a proven track record with the franchise, and have already produced a successful MMO for the series. Could we be seeing a new Star Wars RPG? Maybe they could tack on an actual ending for KOTOR 2 this time. Har har, probably not, but BioWare learns from their mistakes, if anything. Give their heft with the franchise, they have the ability and freedom to create game magic again.
3. DICE and Visceral Games Are Also Good Development Teams
Despite their flaccid latest entries, like Dead Space 3 and bland Battlefield 3 map packs, these devs know what they’re doing when they’re given a longer leash.
Give Visceral Games this:
Star Wars 1313 was a gritty, industrial-themed 3rd person shooter abruptly cancelled when Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise as a whole. It was the grimy side of the generally cheerful and kid-friendly Star Wars universe. Given Visceral Games’ ability to make a compelling, console friendly 3rd person shooter, this is a no-brainer.
And for the sake of the gods, in the name of all that is holy, give DICE this:
4. Since when were Star Wars games universally good before?
Gamers of my generation tend to have soft, fuzzy memories about Star Wars and other cultural milestones from our childhoods. In the video game realm, I can’t think of a franchise with a spottier track record. From Star Wars Kinect to Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, the series has seen more shovelware and bad ideas than good ones. For every Battlefront 2, there’s a Jedi Power Battles. Perhaps a single publisher who knows how to craft (ahem) “audience-friendly” games can reign in a lot of this crap.
For all of this potential good, there’s the path to…
The Dark Side
Name one franchise EA has made better since acquiring. Have The Sims, Dead Space, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Medal of Honor, Madden, or SimCity been fundamentally improved by EA’s publishing influence? I sense a disturbance in the Force. This isn’t just the law of diminishing returns, like Rocky V or whatever the fuck Terminator we’re on now. Games have this inverted phenomenon where the 3rd or 4th entry into a series tends to be the best. But there’s something about the gulag of EA where good studios just go to die.
Maybe it’s their insistence on PC-friendly developers like Maxis or BioWare being pushed to develop for consoles, outside of their expertise. Or maybe they just chewed up in the big money machine, trading innovation for a larger budget. I don’t know, but it’s a trend that’s been happening for over a decade and has no intention of slowing down.
EA has a choice, premium moment to reconnect with gamers, unlike any I’ve ever seen. If EA does this right, they can win back an entire demographic of gamers they’ve snubbed with their corporate smugness and over-monetization. Maybe I’m too hard on the Galactic Empire of Video Games. You know, player hatin’ or whatever the kids call it.
Or maybe we’ll see Star Wars Kinect 2. Or 3. Or 4.