With the recent cancelation of the open world Star Wars game, allow us to re-present this article about EA not caring what their fans want. Because, clearly, if they did, they’d be handling the Star Wars license better.
—-Originally posted October 22, 2017—–
With the “refocusing” of Visceral Games and Amy Hennig’s Star Wars project, disappointment has spread throughout the gaming community. This was going to be thee Star Wars game. Sure, some fans are excited for the singe-player campaign in the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront II, but that mode is only half of the game — if that.
The developers at EA recently confirmed that the solo outing for Battlefront II is a mere five to seven hours in length. So it’s clear that the single-player portion isn’t a core component of the game. The development’s focus was directed toward the multiplayer options that Battlefront II boasts.
It’s clear that we have quite a while to wait before we get a legitimate story-centric Star Wars adventure. And while that sucks for you and I, EA couldn’t care less. Because EA doesn’t care what you want.
1313 and the Deal
While it has nothing to do with EA, the “refocusing” of Visceral’s Star Wars game is a bit of a double down as far as bad news for Star Wars games go. In April of 2013, Disney announced it was canceling all internal development, including LucasArts projects. This was the demise of the infamous Star Wars 1313 game.
Star Wars 1313 was said to be a young Boba Fett inspired adventure. In it, the young bounty hunter would venture through Coruscant, specifically the seedy underground area known as Level 1313, and hunt down criminal targets. Some stills and general information for the project leaked, and it seemed to be exactly the type of game that Star Wars fans were clamoring for. But unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.
A month later EA and Disney revealed their blockbuster partnership. EA would have the exclusive rights to produce Star Wars titles on PC and consoles. It didn’t take long for EA to start announcing projects. One of which was a single-player adventure led by Amy Hennig. Hennig is a renowned director, and she had just left Naughty Dog after helping to craft the Uncharted franchise into the behemoth it would become.
But as Hennig joined Visceral games in 2014, the industry was changing as it’s prone to do. Publishers were earning revenue hands over fist in new ways. And as one of the largest publishers in the world, EA noticed.
Before jumping into this segment, I just want to clarify that we don’t know what EA means when they say they are “refocusing” Hennig’s Star Wars game. But the vast amount of opinions across the internet agree on what they believe EA’s strategy to be. They want to turn the project into an online multiplayer world akin to something along the likes of Destiny.
Patrick Söderlund revealed the project’s conversion on the EA blog. His opening statement essentially laid it all out:
“Our industry is evolving faster and more dramatically than ever before. The games we want to play and spend time with, the experiences we want to have in those games, and the way we play…all those things are continually changing. So is the way games are made. In this fast-moving space, we are always focused on creating experiences that our players want to play…and today, that means we’re making a significant change with one of our upcoming titles.”
Söderlund goes on to mention “fundamental shifts in the marketplace.” And that his team wants “to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come.” This sounds exactly like the inferral of a perennially online title if I’ve ever heard one.
It’s obvious what’s happening here, and we have, perhaps, Activision (and ourselves) to blame.
EA Doesn’t Care What You Want
So, getting to the gist of the piece, it’s just what the title says – EA doesn’t care what you want. They care what’s going to make money. Online multiplayer microtransaction infested games make money. And we’re going to get just that with the revamped Star Wars project.
Look at the games EA ISN’T giving.
For years, fans have been begging for a Skate 4 to hit current consoles. And for years, they have been denied. Why? On the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 combined, Skate sold 1.09 million copies. Skate 2 did 1.93 million. And Skate 3 4.68 million. Each iteration of the franchise seemed to best its predecessor. So why no Skate 4? Because 4.68 million copies sold is small potatoes, Jack. Unless, of course, you got a side of microtransactions with those potatoes.
Across the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Activision’s Destiny has sold 12.64 million copies. Which is impressive! And that’s just the base game, we’re not counting expansions. With said expansions, Destiny had a robust shelf life and fans were playing it up until the recent release of Destiny 2.
Activision also purchased Blizzard a few years back. Blizzard is most known for World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is a multiplayer game, much like Destiny and Destiny 2, that exists perennially online and is now loaded with microtransactions (albeit a milder case than the average game). I say all that to get to this:
In an earnings call to investors, Activision Blizzard revealed that in 2016 alone the company had earned $3.6 billion via in-game purchases.
Wow. $3.6 billion. Now it helps that you have money generating franchises like World of Warcraft, Destiny, and perhaps the biggest of all in Overwatch. But $3.6 billion just via microtransactions is incredible.
EA acquiesced to fan clamoring in the past. That’s how we got Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst sold around 2 million copies. EA is done listening to us. EA wants that sweet, sweet micro money like Activision is getting.
A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
While it isn’t the only example, Electronic Arts’ “refocusing” of Star Wars is certainly the most current and most glaring. EA simply doesn’t care what their fans are asking for. They care about their bottom line. And, there’s nothing wrong with that — to a point. Electronic Arts is a publicly traded company. They have a responsibility to their shareholders to earn as much profit as possible, and converting the Visceral/Hennig project into something more akin to Destiny is a calculated move. While it might piss of the consumer base initially, let’s remember that this is still going to be a Star Wars game, after all.
An always online Star Wars game with continued expansions and in-game microtransactions? Sounds like a shit ton of money to be made to me. Although it’s worth noting that their shares did take a hit with word of their Star Wars game being delayed.
With Hennig’s game, we were getting a true Star Wars adventure. A single-player adventure that would thrust fans into the world and mythos of the Star Wars universe. A game that was long overdue and heavily desired. We had potentially dozens and dozens of hours ahead of us exploring a galaxy far, far away. And we were so excited for those dozens and dozens of hours. Now, the project just feels like an old hope of a long time ago…