Jedi: Fallen Order is coming. Fans are only a few days out from getting their first meaningful look at Respawn Entertainment's upcoming Star Wars, which is due out later this year in the fall. While we know precious little about the game so far, there's more information on the way at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago this week where the game will receive its premiere on Saturday, April 13th, and although it seems dramatic those details could make or break an entire company.
Let's preface that statement with what we currently know about Jedi: Fallen Order, Respawn, and publisher Electronic Arts. Jedi: Fallen Order is being developed by Respawn and will follow a Padawan that survived the Order 66 purge and lives life as a hunted survivor. It's also being directed by former God of War 3 director Stig Asmussen, which means there's a certain level of quality attached to the early information on the game that has given it an exceedingly rare stature among recent uses of the Star Wars license: people are actually excited about it. Respawn is coming off Apex Legends, a game that took the battle royale genre by storm. Both game and developer look like they're primed to make good on the promise of a brand new, high quality Star Wars video game experience.
The problem lies with EA, however. The company can't seem to get much right in recent years and has depressingly massive list of killed IPs and franhcises. Star Wars Battlefront II was a disaster that further drove a once-beloved property into the ground even more so than its rushed and disappointing predecessor, and was so predatory that it came to define an era of loot boxes and microtransactions in gaming that is reviled. Battlefield V had promise, too, but it also appeared to be rushed out, missing several advertised features that were either added later or completely abandoned. Finally, and most notably, Anthem has been a complete mess since its release—whenever that officially was, since its release schedule was also an abomination—to the point that it seems appealing to just burn it all down and start over rather than trying to salvage it with endless patches and updates.
EA has famously mishandled the Star Wars license in ways that would've been unthinkable prior to the publisher acquiring it. Visceral's canceled Star Wars game still looms large over the rest of the titles EA produces with it, and the production has been scarce even while the property experiences a massive resurgence thanks to a line of new films, toys, and spinoffs that have recaptured the imagination of fans everywhere. It shouldn't be this hard. EA has gold in its hands and is trying to sell it like it's copper. Yet in 2019, fans would rather see EA never release another Star Wars game than to let them continually tarnish the property's name with the greedy or half-finished efforts that have come to characterize the publisher's catalogue over the past few years.
This has to be do-or-die for EA. Not just for the Star Wars license, but for the publisher's reputation in the industry, full stop. Disney might not be interested in yanking the license away from EA yet, but another failed effort on a game that has a simmering hype behind it that will only be amplified by the Star Wars Celebration might change the all-powerful company's mind. Beyond that, though, there's only so much fans can take. That EA managed to generate enough good will with Anthem—in part thanks to BioWare's reputation, which the publisher has now had a hand in making much worse—was a miracle in its own right. Now that Anthem will likely go down as one of the biggest failures in modern gaming, there's very little left for consumers to believe in when it comes to EA's capability.
We've long considered EA too big to fail. That might still hold true, thanks to the companies various sports properties that churn out profits with regularity every single year. But for Star Wars, and the developers trapped underneath the iron grip of EA's deadlines and profit margins, Jedi: Fallen Order might be last call at everyone's favorite cantina. It's time for EA to prove it knows what to do with Star Wars before there's nothing left to be done with one of the most valuable licenses in all of video games.