With the “Star Wars” holiday of May 4th right behind us, it seems a fitting time for major news from a galaxy far, far away. Disney announced this week that it has struck a deal with EA for exclusive licensing of the “Star Wars” universe to the giant game publisher.
On one hand, the studios under EA's helm offer some excellent potential to the “Star Wars” IP. BioWare, who recently delivered the MMORPG “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” has a history of some excellent “Star Wars”-themed RPGs. DICE has been giving Activision a run for its money in the FPS realm, with the Battlefield games, and could certainly deliver some incredible “Star Wars”-themed shooters.
However, many fans of the “Star Wars” universe questioned EA’s ability to deliver quality games over time without competition from other publishers. In particular, some of EA’s recent stumbles were called out, most notably the “always online” aspect of SimCity, which resulted in one of the most bungled game releases in a long while, and a lot of outrage directed at EA. Some commenters speculated what the new “Star Wars” games would look like if plagued with micro-transactions and an always-online requirement.
The always-online debate has picked up in the past six months, between the SimCity release and a rumor that the new Xbox would require always-online access to play games (fueled by tweets from a now ex-employee). There is a (new?) hope that Microsoft will reject the dark side of this issue, as news today of a leaked internal memo indicates that offline game play will be available. We won’t know for sure until the official unveiling of the console on the 21st, but I’d be extremely surprised to see always-online make an appearance, given current broadband adoption, the fact that thecompetition doesn’t have the feature, and the severity of outrage at the always-online rumors.
So hopefully this week’s news points to a future filled with some great games from EA that let us enjoy that beloved galaxy of long ago and far away, even when our last Internet ping is equally long ago or far away. Plus, I can’t be the only one excited to see what “Star Wars” is going to look like on next-gen hardware!