Whether you’ve enjoyed the publisher’s previous Star Wars games or not, EA’s partnership with Disney means that they have exclusive rights to the license for another few years. The deal was brokered back in 2013, soon after Disney acquired both Lucasarts and Lucasfilm, and is set to run until 2023, but there’s been more than a few ups and downs along the way.
Looking at both Jedi: Fallen Order and Battlefront II, we’d argue that EA has finally hit its Star Wars stride. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with 2015’s Battlefront reboot as well (and even its somewhat overpriced expansions), but its sequel ranks among the best multiplayer games of the current console generation.
As strong as it was at launch there’s no glossing over EA’s loot box fiasco, however. In short, these boxes spewed out cards which could then be equipped to confer gameplay advantages such as bonus damage or quicker ability cooldown times. The term “pay to win” gets thrown around a lot but in Battlefront II those claims were valid.
EA got it in the neck from gaming press and as good as the game was, the publisher’s greed cast a grim shadow over the shooter sequel and led to a long period of readjustment for the game before winning back its fans with a string of strong content updates.
With that said, can we expect a Battlefront III? Right now it doesn’t seem very likely. Much like Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege, Battlefront has morphed into a live service game and one that has benefited hugely from regular content drops, updates, and events; EA and DICE having only just rolled out new maps and features alongside Rise of Skywalker.
It’s also hard to imagine what the studio could come up with that would justify a sequel. Battlefront II now covers all the mainline Star Wars films, planets, and characters, even telling an original story of its own.
We expect EA to continue building on what it has now, potentially dropping a beefed up version of the game to take advantage of next gen systems. That said, there’s definitely room to experiment. DICE could hold onto much of what it has now while crafting new multiplayer modes and perhaps even more co-op and solo focused modes. Realistically, it’s existence will likely depend on whether there’s a new lineup of Star Wars films between now and 2023.
On the other hand a Jedi: Fallen Order sequel seems like a no brainer, really. Last year’s single player adventure went down well among fans and critics despite some initial scepticism surrounding the game’s throwaway announcement.
We shouldn’t overlook the fact that this was Respawn’s first punt at the genre. The studio, best known for its stand out work on shooters such as Titanfall and Apex Legends, made a bold leap with Jedi and we’re fascinated to see what they could do with a follow-up. Having performed well in terms of sales, we’d be very surprised to see EA shelve this new series, especially when they’ve struggled to shepherd other single player games to release.
There are a few other possibilities when looking at what the publisher has next for Star Wars, including new games for mobile devices. There have been a handful of iOS and Android titles since The Force Awakens hit cinemas, though EA’s Galaxy of Heroes has consistently outperformed the rest. It doesn’t make much sense for them to launch another competing Star Wars game, unless it went in a markedly different direction, perhaps hopping on the real world/AR trend of Pokemon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
EA Motive also has a Star Wars project in the works but we’re no closer to finding out exactly what it is. The last we heard of it was from Motive’s VP and General Manager, Patrick Klause, stating it will be a “very unique Star Wars experience”.
What could that unique experience be? It remains to be seen, but EA Motive was originally founded to assist Visceral Games. The studio best known for Dead Space was working on a Star Wars third person action game under the codename “Project Ragtag” at the time, with Uncharted director and writer Amy Hennig at the helm. The game was reportedly deep in development before being cancelled and the studio closed at the end of 2017 as EA executives sought for a different, more open world direction.
Project Ragtag was handed over to EA Vancouver to try and reboot its development, but it was then cancelled for a second time in early 2019. Having witnessed and been involved with Project Ragtag, could some of those ideas still be floating around in EA’s Star Wars projects?
Finally, everyone’s favourite rumour (and no it isn’t an Oasis reunion for Glastonbury 2020). BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel are often hailed as two of the best games to carry the Star Wars license. So, what better way to lift the studio from its current doldrums than reveal a sequel/spiritual successor? While it would excite a small slice of the Star Wars fandom, there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite to explore this primordial chapter in the Star Wars saga. We also have to consider the existence of The Old Republic, EA’s costly MMO that the publisher is still trying to wring money out of.
Whatever EA has planned, we’ll hopefully hear more later this year, though we wouldn’t count on a new Star Wars game to arrive in time for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X launch.