EA has made a real dog’s dinner of the Star Wars license. You’d think that upon being granted possibly the most lucrative license in entertainment, they’d immediately let their numerous studios pitch ideas for projects. After all, throughout the 90s and 2000s, we saw everything from first-person shooters, space simulations, racing games, third-person action adventures and so on. But, since May 2013 when they were granted exclusive rights to make Star Wars games, we’ve only seen Battlefront and Battlefront II – neither of which has set the world on fire.
Now, we’re hearing that a once-promising sounding project – an open world adventure – has been cancelled. The title’s had a long and tortured existence, too. Slated to be developed by Visceral Games (creators of the Dead Space series), it was originally a single-player adventure that was retooled into something with a more multiplayer focus. This change resulted in the closure of Visceral Games and development duties being handed to EA Vancouver. Now, Kotaku’s reporting that this new iteration of the project’s also been cancelled.
So, what the hell’s going on at EA? Well, it looks as though the game has fallen prey to management chasing various trends in the market, with the primary motivator being monetization. The shift from an open-world single-player adventure to a multiplayer title was clearly made with an eye to transforming it into something that would fall under the games as a service category, no doubt stuffed full of microtransactions and quasi-illegal loot boxes.
My bet is that after Battlefront II‘s monetization strategy was met with an enormous wave of rage, promises of investigation by various national governments and the reported anger of Disney that EA were causing damage to the Star Wars brand, they decided that if they couldn’t milk the player with this open world multiplayer game, then it simply didn’t make financial sense to pursue the project.
So, what’s next? Well, there’s still Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order due out this year. While I have no doubt that there’s going to be a wave of microtransactions baked into the game, let’s just hope that the core is a focused and exciting single-player adventure. Though with EA as publisher, who knows?