Saturday, May 4, 2019

Star Wars

By: Patrick Morris

Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. Don’t forget to check out our podcasts HardReset and NoRefunds and everything else we do all in one spot over at Today is Star Wars day so this week we will be talking about the future of the galaxy far far away, lets talk about Star Wars video games. 

Now I want to come out and say very clearly that I don’t consider myself a huge Star Wars fan, I enjoy Star Wars for what it is but ultimately I don’t enjoy it as much as a bunch of people that eat sleep and breath Star Wars. The movies are pretty good but theyre no where near as ground breaking as so many people say they are. The books are fun and the comics have been really good but where Star Wars has done it's best job capturing my attention is in the video games. And because video games are the medium that I think is the best for Star Wars it goes without saying that I havent been really satisfied with Star Wars in quite some time.

In 2013 EA signed a deal with Disney that basically gave EA control over the development and publishing of Star Wars video games for ten years. Now in   2019 we are rapidly approaching six years since that news broke and what was supposed to be the second golden age of Star Wars games has turned out to be two very okay battlefront games and continued support for The Old Republic MMO. What we as the audience were expecting and what EA has delivered so far have been two very different things. A near universal love for the franchise across so many different demographics combined with the power, connections, influence, and resources held by EA would surely lead Star Wars video games into a new age of innovation and prosperity right? Wrong!

EA should have been out contracting third party studios to develop radically different types of Star Wars games concurrently to be able to release at least one or two big budget Star Wars games every year. What should have happened is Dice should have been put on Battlefront, Respawn on Jedi Fallen Order, Obsidian or Bioware tasked with KOTOR 3, Insomniac on a character driven adventure spin off, Bandai Namco put in charge of Rogue Squadron 4, and so many other experimental projects. That’s what should have happened but what actually happened was less…ambitious.

Don’t get me wrong despite all of their flaws I have actually been a pretty big advocate for Battlefront and especially Battlefront 2 and you can see the video I made all about that right here (LegalSpeak In Defense of Battlefront 2). Those games have been fun for what they are and I have poured many hours into both, and I am definitely looking forward to Jedi Fallen Order later this year. I don’t mean to say that the games are bad, what I'm trying to get at is that EA is not the publishing house that should be handling the Star Wars license and hopefully come 2023 Disney wont be renewing their contract. So who should handle Star Wars video games after the dark times? After the empire? 

Once this whole EA debacle is over I think what will most likely happen is another of the major publishers in the industry will be signed to take over all development and publishing of Star Wars games, still effectively outsourcing almost the entire operation just to a different publisher. So who should take over? There are only a handful of publishers in the world big enough to handle a property as big as Star Wars those being EA, Take Two, Activision, Sony Computer Entertainment, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Ubisoft. Obviously Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are out because Sony and Microsoft would limit which platforms Star Wars games can reach and while I don’t have any contacts at Nintendo something tells me they wouldn’t be particularly interested. EA is also immediately out because I'm not making a video theorizing about how EA will get to keep Star Wars. Which leaves Activision, Take Two, and Ubisoft. Activison is arguable the second most money hungry publisher in the industry and as a result I would speculate that Disney will steer clear so as to avoid making the same mistake twice. Take Two Interactive would be an interesting choice but I think they lack a certain uniformity and standardization that Disney has been obsessed with maintaining in Star Wars recently. I'm amazed that I'm saying this but I think Ubisoft would be most likely and also best realistic option for Disney to choose.

So I think Ubisoft will take over Star Wars and honestly of the options that arent completely pie in the sky I think they're probably the best ones to do it. Over the past two decades Ubisoft has taken the Tom Clancy IP and made it into something that everyone can enjoy. In case you missed it you can find my video on Tom Clancy games right here (LegalSpeak Tom Clancy Games). TLDR: Tom Clancy is an IP that acts as an umbrella for several different series that exist within the same universe. People who want a single player story focused experience can play Splinter Cell. If you want a co-op squad based third person shooter play Ghost Recon. Are competitive PVP games your thing? Well luckily Rainbow Six Siege has you covered. And if you just cant get enough of that shared world borderline MMO loot grind well Division and now Division 2 have it in spades. All of these games are distinctly different but still look and feel like they're cut from the same cloth. Ghost Recon is developed by Ubisoft Paris, Rainbow Six is from Ubisoft Montreal, Splinter Cell is from Ubisoft Toronto most recently, and The Division is developed by Massive Entertainment. Ubisoft has orchestrated an unparalleled level of cohesion of cooperation for their studios to share resources all across the globe which has led to the Tom Clancy franchise being an absolute force to be reckoned with. 

But just like every other publisher and developer Ubisoft has been known to drop a real bomb every now and then. It happened with Rainbow Six Siege and again with For Honor. Both of those games were huge disappointments when they launched, they werent quite on par with something like Fallout 76 but at launch they were bad. But looking at those games now they have come a really long way and have thriving dedicated communities. This didn’t happen magically it happened because when those games launched they were a bummer and the fanbases weren't shy about communicating their disappointment in very specific detail but instead of abandoning the games or selling a bright blue leather jacket for $276 Ubisoft took the feedback, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work on making the games better. And now those games are completely unrecognizable from what they were when they first launched. Ubisoft has actively demonstrated a commitment to developing a good game and fixing something that didn’t satisfy their fans. Ubisoft has done the unthinkable and turned a failing game around on multiple occasions.

Now if crafting distinctly different games with a similar look and feel a la Tom Clancy doesn’t sound like exactly what Disney wants for Star Wars I'm not sure what you think they do want. And to add to that if a commitment to a failing game to turn it around and make it the game players want doesn’t sound like the exact opposite of what EA would do I'm not sure we are talking about the same EA. And in all fairness Battlefront 2 has made a huge turn around but that's almost entirely Dice's doing. Ubisoft has demonstrated through Tom Clancy and their other IP's that they have exactly what Disney is looking for in a Star Wars handler, and honestly if in four years Disney announces that they have signed Ubisoft to take over the Star Wars license for video games I would actually be pretty happy. Ubisoft is the second best thing that can happen to Star Wars video games right now…the SECOND best thing.

We can all dream right? With respect to Star Wars video games my dream is the resurrection of LucasArts. If Disney were to bring back LucasArts and handle publishing and contracting developers in house on a case by case basis Star Wars games could really spread their wings and fly again like they did in the early to mid 2000's. Remember the days of KOTOR, Battlefront, Republic Commando, Jedi Knight, Rogue Squadron, Racer, Starfighter, Empire at War, Force Unleashed, and even Droidworks? The Golden age of Star Wars games and they were all put together on a game by game basis from different development studios with unique talents and strengths to offer. Disney if you really wanna make this Star Wars game fan happy bring back the same strategy the gave us the first golden age of Star Wars games…bring back LucasArts.

What do you think Disney should do for Star Wars games after the EA contact expires? Should it go to Ubisoft, come back in house, or should they do something I haven't even considered? Let me know in the comments down below. And while you're down there let me know what your favorite Star Wars game is, my number one is definitely Rogue Squadron 2 but I harbor a secret love for the Phantom Menace tie in game on PlayStation 1.

Thanks for watching everyone, don’t forget to check out our gaming podcast HardReset and our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to! Both of those are right here on YouTube and on most major podcast services, links are in the description below. Next week LegalSpeak will be guest written by our very own gorgeous Ben Reynolds so until then…may the force be with you. Always.

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