Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is EA's last chance at keeping the Star Wars license. Here's why I think so:
A Lucrative Licence
Imagine having exclusive rights to one of the largest franchises in entertainment history. Now imagine everyone hating you for this fact. This is EA. They have their hands on a multi-billion dollar monster of a franchise, and one that is growing year on year. Since Disney's $4 billion purchase of LucasFilm back in 2012, they have laid out a grand plan from a cinematic perspective. This includes the new Skywalker story arc, the stand alone Star Wars stories (which IMO are brilliant) and the upcoming series The Mandalorian. A very punchy production schedule, and one that is delivering a medium to high standard of content. But what about the games?
George being George
EA has held the license for Star Wars since 2013, and since then has produced a sorry 2 "full" star wars games: Battlefront 1 and 2. Oh and a heap of mobile cash-grab garbage that aren't even worth commenting on. Whilst Battlefront 1 was average at best, we all know Battlefront 2 was a complete mess. A game some fundamentally intertwined in monetisation that 2 years later they are still trying to untangle the mess they created with updates and additional content (which apparently are not bad, more on that in the future).
So where does this leave EA and the Star Wars franchise? The conditions of the Star Wars license sets out and expiration date of 2023, so with less that 4 years to go, EA have really yet to prove themselves as a worthy developer to produce an experience fans can truly enjoy. Experiences such as Tie Fighter, Rogue Squadron or Jedi Knight 2. The clock is ticking, and EA need to act.
Graveyard of Games
EA could have been in a better position, but for reasons that still aren't clear, they have cancelled a number of Star Wars projects which from the little information we have, sounded promising. For example Star Wars 1313 was slated as a gritty bounty hunter title set on Coruscant. It had some impressive concept art and even had an E3 demo that sent the Star Wars fanbase in bit of a spin.
"It's as if a million fanboys cried out when 1313 got cancelled"
Another example was 'Project RagTag' which had the talented Amy Hennig (Uncharted) attached to it, and was planned to be produced by Visceral Studios. That was however, until EA decided to put a bullet in Visceral's head, and the game was dusted.
Pressure is certainly mounting on EA to produce a Star Wars game that does the franchise justice and appeals to actual fans. And with the 2023 deadline looming on the horizon, rumors have already started spreading that Disney will not be renewing their contract. To me, it no longer makes much sense to a behemoth like Disney to outsource work like this. Not when they can whip up a game studio in no time with the seemingly endless resources they have.
So enter stage left Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. Produced by Respawn (Apex Legends), and slated for release in November (to captialise on the movie hype at the time). Jedi Fallen Order is seemingly EA's last and largest chance at retaining the license, and also producing a worthy Star Wars game. The marketing to date has been amusingly informative. Developers have repeatedly stressed that it is a single player game, with no loot boxes and no micro-transactions. They are obviously eager to regain trust in fans who were heavily burnt by the Battlefront 2 debacle. In fact Respawn have been eager to point out that EA's involvement has been minimal. It's a hilarious state of affairs when studios are distancing themselves from their own publisher to ensure players stay interested.
A last hope?
So have EA learned their lesson from Battlefront 2? Only time will tell when Jedi Fallen Order releases later this year. The signs are promising, and EA might even get to keep the franchise should it be a success. But I'm sure you and many others will agree with me when I say, that is not a good thing. Which leaves us in a predicament, we want a good game, but we also don't want EA to keep the license. We shall just have to wait and see what Disney decides.
May the force be with us