The recent news that Lucasfilm had resurrected its old video game studio, Lucasfilm Games, got many Star Wars fans misty-eyed and nostalgic. Classic games like TIE Fighter, Dark Forces, Republic Commando, and Rogue Squadron are among some fan-favorite creations of the storied developer.
After Disney bought the company in 2012, they scuttled the studio. This was followed by a ten-year exclusivity deal with EA to create Star Wars video games.
The intervening years have seen less returns than either party likely hoped. Star Wars Battlefront and its sequel were met with divided opinions, with Battlefront II being the face of “pay to win” lootbox experiences.
Jedi: Fallen Order received rave reviews as a single-player action game, but didn’t hit the kinds of sales numbers Disney was likely expecting. Star Wars: Squadrons, a throwback to TIE Fighter, is a niche title that many loved, but is short and purposefully focused in scope.
With the stage set thusly, one can understand the pent-up demand for new Star Wars video games. That’s why this week’s announcement that Ubisoft is making an open-world Star Wars game is so exciting.
It’s partly exciting because it means that we’re getting “Assassin’s Creed but with Lightsabers” in 2023, but it’s mostly exciting because it means the exclusivity contract with EA is coming to an end.
“The Star Wars galaxy is an amazing source of motivation for our teams to innovate and push the boundaries of our medium. Building new worlds, characters and stories that will become lasting parts of the Star Wars lore is an incredible opportunity for us, and we are excited to have our Ubisoft Massive studio working closely with Lucasfilm Games to create an original Star Wars adventure that is different from anything that has been done before.”Yves Guillemot, cofounder and CEO of Ubisoft
It sounds like EA will still be able to make Star Wars titles going forward, but they won’t be the only name in town. It’s likely that Disney saw the slow pace of EA’s release schedule for the Star Wars titles and decided to open the floodgates for other developers. After all, once a more sizable number of projects are spinning at once, that puts less pressure on any one project to be the be-all, end-all Star Wars game.
What to Expect
Ubisoft’s open world game is very light on details at the moment. Essentially, all we know is that it’s Star Wars, Ubisoft is making it, and it’s promised to be an open world.
Seriously, if that doesn’t sound like “Assassin’s Creed but Lightsabers,” I don’t know what does. Given the high quality of recent Assassin’s Creed games like Odyssey and Valhalla, I’m confident the game is in good hands.
The studio behind the project, Massive Entertainment, previously made The Division and its sequel.
This could mean that the Star Wars title is some form of co-op, live-service game set in the galaxy far, far away. Whatever it is, we’re just excited to see other studios working with the license.
“As we look to the next 50 years of Lucasfilm, we look forward to continuing the wonderful legacy in games, which has introduced so many memorable characters and stories. These new collaborations will allow the Lucasfilm Games team to pursue fresh and exciting directions in the storytelling of Star Wars and Indiana Jones in imaginative and different ways than those explored by our films.”Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm
The Future of Star Wars Games
Many fans are hoping this means a return to the era of mid-sized Star Wars titles could be coming back. Games made by smaller studios, like Star Wars: Bounty Hunter and Republic Commando, which are among the fan-favorite titles in the series’ catalog. With the end of the EA exclusivity deal, this could become a reality.
I’m just going to say this once to get the idea out there: Republic Commando 2. Let me play as Delta Squad again. The first one isn’t even canon anymore.
Come on, Disney. You know all the twenty-something Star Wars fans who grew up with the prequels would lose their minds. Just do it.