A new rumor is circulating online suggesting that EA may be on the verge of losing their licensing agreement for Star Wars games. Shortly after acquiring Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney restructured the company and shuttered its LucasArts division. They were not interested in developing first-party Star Wars games but rather sought to license their property out to already established third-party developers and publishers - and their prime choice was EA.
EA signed an exclusive multi-year licensing agreement with Disney/Lucasfilm in 2013 to develop and publish a variety of AAA Star Wars games for "all interactive platforms." Disney still planned on developing their own mobile/social titles at the time, but that initiative has since fallen by the wayside. On EA's side of things, the publisher has so far released two Battlefront games - Star Wars Battlefront in 2015 and Star Wars: Battlefront II in 2017 - with Respawn Entertainment still working on an action-adventure title and EA Vancouver working on Visceral Games' former Star Wars game. But, it seems all of that may now be in jeopardy according to a new rumor that's surfaced online.
Cinelinx reports that Lucasfilm is unhappy with the current arrangement with EA and they are looking at other studios to potentially take over the licensing deal. Lucasfilm is reportedly reaching out to Activision and Ubisoft to possibly replace EA. While none of this has been confirmed, it's not outside the realm of plausibility, although The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red could be a better fit for Star Wars given the developer's aversion to loot boxes in full releases and care for single player stories.
This news comes on the heels of EA suffering widespread backlash for infusing loot boxes with progression in DICE's Star Wars: Battlefront II. Because of the poor progression system and all the pay-to-win mechanics (which were temporarily scaled back in November), Battlefront II suffered in sales over the holiday season. In fact, Nintendo's Super Mario Odyssey outsold Battlefront II despite releasing on only one platform - and a new one at that. While both EA and Disney are maintaining their resolve in spite of all the backlash and calls for change, the aforementioned rumor suggests that a significant shakeup could be on the horizon, one that many consumers would be more than happy with.
The exact terms of EA's deal with Disney are unknown, but it's widely believed that they have an exclusive publishing agreement with Disney/Lucasfilm, not a developing agreement. Any game studio can technically develop a Star Wars game so long as EA publishes it. But since they're unwilling to work with studios that they don't own or, at least, maintain control over, it's unlikely that a third-party studio would be able to make their own Star Wars title. If this rumor turns out to be true, however, that will all change.
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