With Star Wars, Ubisoft should go where no developer has gone before…
As a game franchise, Star Wars has had a kind of rough ride the last several years. If you aren’t aware of the history, long story short, when Disney bought LucasFilm and all the properties that came with it, they essentially shuttered LucasArts, the game company that made or published pretty much all the Star Wars games up to that point. Some were great, some were middling, some were downright awful, but it was truly the end of an era and given the moneymaking machine Star Wars is, an era most probably thought would never actually come to an end.
Disney didn’t want to stop Star Wars games from being made however, they just wanted to have someone else do the hard work and sit back and collect money, and hey who could blame them. That someone else ended up being mega game studio Electronic Arts, who whatever issues people had with them, there was a faith that they had the money and resources to make some pretty solid top tier games based on Star Wars.
Fast forward nearly eight years since that announcement, and it’s been a mixed result at best. For one, despite Electronic Arts owning about twenty studios we’ve only seen a few games and not well spread out either. I’m not expecting a deluge of Star Wars games from one publisher mind you but you’d think they would have pumped out more in that time frame.
Quality over quantity would certainly make up for that, but there has undoubtedly been a huge issue with the quality of the product Electronic Arts has put out related to Star Wars. The first Battlefront game was fun but pretty sparse, the second got such a negative reception that Bob Iger was calling Electronic Arts and asking why everyone suddenly hates Star Wars.
And even the more well-received efforts, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars Squadrons had issues (Fallen Order is still pretty buggy to this day and some aspects just look terrible, Squadrons is just very light on content when it could have had a much bigger scope), people were just so relieved they were decent games not fraught with predatory microtransactions that they eagerly ate them up like they were Game of the Year material.
In the last week, Disney and more specifically, LucasArts, which has rebranded to LucasFilm Games has been making some very aggressive moves, arguably the biggest making it clear that while Electronic Arts will still be making Star Wars games for at least a little while longer (that deal is set to expire in 2023 but it may be extended you never know), the field has already been opened up to others to take a crack at this fan-favorite sci-fi universe with the announcement that Ubisoft is developing its own Star Wars title with Massive, the studio behind The Division franchise, handling the development.
Now, we can only guess what kind of Star Wars game Ubisoft is going to make, but we know what Ubisoft is known for, and we know what Massive makes, so unless they are going with something entirely out of their usual wheelhouse there’s only so many ways this game is going to be.
One of the worst possibilities I can honestly think of is it being some version of basically what The Division series is but with Star Wars crammed into it, That’s just Battlefront, we just did that we don’t need another one from a different AAA developer so soon.
Given that it’s Ubisoft an Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry-style game set in the universe isn’t out of the question, but that’s also a really obvious and kind of lazy result but also not likey or the studios responsible for those franchises would be taking the lead on this game.
If Ubisoft really wants to make not just a good first impression, but arguably a memorable game that might even spawn a whole new franchise for them, which I’m sure is the goal, they need to do something we really haven’t seen before. It doesn’t have to be some genre Star Wars hasn’t covered, that might be an impossible ask.
But a way to do that, and one that has been done successfully in the past, would be to explore an aspect of the Star Wars universe that hasn’t been covered much if at all, especially in the games. You’ve got a whole new era, “The High Republic” that is being pushed really hard right now, that would be some really fresh territory. Or even developing a game based around one or several of the many alien races we have seen in Star Wars but know little about. The key here for Ubisoft to succeed is creating something, anything that is not only free from direct comparisons to Electronic Arts’ efforts with the franchise but also detached from any series or movies to free themselves of the baggage associated with it.
Give me a story with a character from a race I’ve never seen before, let me explore times and places we haven’t really seen. Give me a new Star Wars experience, Ubisoft. Give me anything but some massive online multi-player loot collectathon or a formula I’ve seen dozens of times in a setting I’m all too familiar with and characters I’ve seen too often. This will be a fresh start for a franchise that in games has certainly had a rocky last decade, the best way to try and make it a good one is with a fairly clean slate detached from anything previous.
That’s it for this week, I will hopefully be back to posting at least once a week regularly so see ya real soon!