Bob Iger shocked the world during a recent earnings call by stating that Disney has a good relationship with EA, and that they won't be canceling their license to make Star Wars video games. This move comes despite a series of setbacks for EA's Star Wars titles.
The news of EA being allowed to keep the Star Wars license has come as a huge surprise, due to the controversy concerning EA's handling of Star Wars Battlefront II in 2017. The highly anticipated shooter immediately came under fire from both critics and fans for its heavy-handed implementation of a loot crate system, which gave the players who bought them a huge advantage over those who didn't in terms of access to abilities, characters, and weapons. EA (and by extension, Disney) received criticism for releasing a Star Wars game that promoted gambling (due to the random nature of the loot crates), which led to investigations from the Belgian and Dutch governments over claims that the game was promoting illegal gambling to children. The fallout of this controversy caused EA's stock value to plummet.
It seems that the controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II left no ill feelings with the higher-ups at Disney, as Iger now claims that the company has a "good relationship" with EA and that Disney doesn't want to become a video game publisher, despite having the resources to do so, as they haven't had much luck with entering that part of the entertainment industry in the past. It's for this reason that they are happy to let EA keep the Star Wars license for now, despite the many rumors to the contrary that we've been hearing over the past year.
The higher-ups at EA have shown regret over the Star Wars Battlefront II problems and have claimed that they aim not to make the same mistakes in the future, even though Anthem is making it seem that no lessons were learned by EA back in 2017. EA's next Star Wars game will be Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, which will let fans see if Iger's trust in EA is well-founded when it's released at the end of 2019.
The Walt Disney Company has seen tremendous success under Iger's rule, as he's the one responsible for the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, and Lucasfilm. It's clear that the man knows what he's talking about when it comes to business, but it's hard not to see his decision to keep working with EA as a mistake, especially as Disney has the resources to ignore the middle-man and become their own publisher.
The video game industry produces products that are worth just as much money as blockbuster movies, yet Iger seems content to allow EA, a company that had publicly dragged the Star Wars name through the mud in the press around the time when Star Wars: The Last Jedi was about to hit theaters, to keep the Star Wars license. It's possible that the Fox acquisition is diverting a lot of Disney's resources at the moment and that they want to avoid any big shakeups until it's done, which could give EA time to get back into the fans' good graces with Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order before the dust settles.