With Star Wars, EA has one of the most sought-after licenses in all of entertainment–and the company plans to take full advantage of it. In a “fireside chat,” EA executives spoke about how the company plans to “double down” on Star Wars after the huge success of Star Wars: Battlefront 1 and 2, Galaxy of Heroes, and Jedi Fallen Order more recently. That continues with a new game out this October, and it sounds like a return to space combat will just be the start of EA’s new plans for the franchise. This is despite several canceled projects over the years, including a scrapped third-person action game that resembled the also-canceled Star Wars 1313.
“Up is my hope–up and to the right,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said about where he hopes the company will take Star Wars in the future. “We have a tremendous relationship with Disney. We have a tremendous relationship with Lucas. We have a longstanding relationship with them going all the way back to Star Wars The Old Republic that we launched in 2011.”
Wilson called out Star Wars: Battlefront 1 and 2 as top-performers from EA’s partnership with Disney on Star Wars. Those games have combined to sell around 35 million copies, he said. Wilson added that the mobile game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes has enjoyed “extraordinary” success, and it continues to perform well. Additionally, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order sold 10 million copies to stand out as another big success. Battlefront 2’s success is despite early troubles related to microtransactions.
EA’s next big Star Wars game is Star Wars Squadrons. A dogfighting game, Squadrons is going after a smaller market than Battlefront or Jedi Fallen Order, Wilson said. EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said the company is not planning to disclose its sales projections for the title. It will release on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
Even if Squadrons doesn’t sell as well as EA’s other Star Wars games, Wilson said he’s happy about the breadth of games that EA has created from its partnership with Disney and Lucas.
“We’ve had success in first-person shooters, in RPGs, in action adventure, in MMORPGs, in mobile, and I believe we’re going to have success with Squadrons as well,” Wilson said. “We’re going to double down on that partnership. Disney continues to be very very committed to the IP and to the canon.”
Wilson added: “We’ve got the combination of great IP, great development expertise and experience and success from us across genres, across platforms, across business models. And we’ve got new generations [of fans] coming to the IP all the time. So our expectation is we think there continues to be a really really strong opportunity in an around that relationship and that IP going forward.”
Jorgensen went on to say that EA is in a rare position where it’s been allowed to create entirely new characters and content for the Star Wars universe thanks to its strong creative partnership with Disney. For example, Jedi Fallen Order features a number of new characters that are canon, while Squadrons will take players to places in the Star Wars galaxy that have never been seen before.
EA’s history with Star Wars hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing, however, as Battlefront II was heavily criticized ahead of release for its use of microtransactions and loot boxes. In response, EA removed loot boxes from Battlefront II for its public release, and while microtransactions later returned, players could no longer use real money to buy loot boxes that could contain items that affected gameplay.
This controversy kicked off a renewed debate about loot boxes in video games–many politicians even took notice and lobbied to enact laws surrounding their implementation. That never came to be, but the ESRB now includes a notice about in-game purchases on video games sold in the US.
Looking ahead, EA may face more criticism in the coming years if it implements new betting systems like it has recently proposed.
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