It was kind of like seeing your ex again.
When you had broken up they had been in a downward spiral, full of poor life decisions. They were uninteresting, bloated, had money problems, you heard way too much about their work and not nearly enough about their dreams. Gone were the days of puppy love and the feelings that had replaced them were far from any kind of attraction. Thus, you did what you had to do. You brought over a box of their sundries lying about your home, requested the copy of your front door key back, and deleted them from your cell phone.
Your friends confirmed that you had done the right thing, s/he didn’t care about you anymore. When you see your ex’s friends, you can tell things haven’t gotten any better. Everyone seemed to be bailing on your one-time significant other. It sounded like things really couldn’t be any worse for them.
Then you see them at a party, sheepishly avoiding eye contact at first. After a couple drinks you can’t help yourself, you end up “accidentally” bumping into them and strike up a conversation. While talking, you realize that they don’t look so bad, that shirt really brings out their eyes. They start telling you about their new job, how they’re turning things around.
“What’s that?” you say. “New Star Wars license?” Thus begins the inevitable slide toward this pompous, shallow, disaster of person being brought back into your life.
That’s how it felt when I heard that EA had acquired a Star Wars multi-year license. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the two sentences freshly stamped on my Twitter feed. There will be plenty who will claim they saw something like this coming, the friend who says, “I knew you two would get back together”, and maybe they did. EA did, afterall, create one of the most ambitious (and expensive) products in Star Wars gaming history in Star Wars: The Old Republic. But with the trimming of personnel at EA over the last few weeks, purchasing one of the most popular franchise rights in gaming was not something anyone would have predicted happening so soon. As someone who has been unabashedly outspoken out my disappointment in EA, especially after the whole Sim City debacle, I found myself conflicted about EA’s new acquisition.
In some ways, it had to be EA. I am sure this comes as no surprise, but Star Wars games aren’t cheap. It would take a top tier publisher to make an offer which would draw the attention of Disney while still having enough cash to invest in the games. EA was also a company desperate enough to take such a risk. With one disappointing launch following another, EA has been in desperate need of an ace in the hole. Pundits recently accused EA of lacking a franchise to lean-on, Star Wars could fit the bill nicely.
However, the risk is apparent. The license is only the start of what will be one of the more serious financial gambles EA has taken. Disney will “retain certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet and online game categories.” so count out those cash cows. No, EA will have to saddle up and make expensive multi-platform experiences. The built-in fan base will carry the game a certain distance, but LucasArts had gone through its share of financial failures with Star Wars titles. In video games, nothing is a sure-fire hit, except Call of Duty. You have to applaud EA for taking a gamble.
I could hear my friends speaking words of wisdom. There was the skeptic who said, “This is just another way for EA to shove microtransactions into bigger games.” Certainly wouldn’t be difficult to imagine a world where players paid for weapon upgrades and map packs in a DICE-made Battlefront 3.
I could hear the realist saying, “When was the last time EA published a great game? The days of Dragon Age, Mirror’s Edge, and Mass Effect 2 are long gone. They have been replaced by Sim City, Dead Space 3, and Medal of Honor: Warfighter.” They are right, EA has a bad streak going, even better games like Mass Effect 3 and Crysis 3 get mixed reactions.
It was also almost impossible not to hear the hipster screaming, “Just two giant behemoth corporations passing the torch of an uninspired, done-to-death franchise, because we can’t think of anything new.” There’s validity to that statement as well, Star Wars has a wide breadth of cannon, so exorbitant it can’t help but get in its own way.
I am playing the part of the optimist. Much like that poor soul, giving it another go with an ex, I am giving Star Wars and EA a chance to find new life in this union. I want new worlds, new races, and new stories from world of lightsabers and the Force. With Studios like DICE, Bioware, and Visceral, all which have proven their quite capable of success, even under the heavy hand of EA, there is a chance for more great Star Wars games. The odds are against me. Anyone with decent distance from the situation can see more than likely I’ll end up disappointed again., but for now I’m going to fool myself into thinking my ex is a different person. This time things will be different.
Are you excited for EA’s new vision of the interactive Star Wars Universe? Are you scared EA will mess the whole thing up? Or are you just tried of Star Wars in general? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below.