EA Licenses Exclusive Star Wars Rights From Disney
Electronic Arts has scored a serious win today, as was announced this afternoon that the publisher has secured a “multi-year” exclusive license to develop new Star Wars games. Coming just 24 hours before the release of its Q4 2013 earnings report, the news is sure to set investors’ minds to rest after a brutal period of layoffs, developer closures, and controversy.
The announcement comes just one month after Disney shut down LucasArts. Under the agreement with EA, while Disney will retain the rights to make Star Wars games for the mobile and social space, EA will “develop and publish new Star Wars titles for a core gaming audience, spanning all interactive platforms and the most popular game genres.” In other words, the second largest publisher in the world will essentially own interactive Star Wars for the forseeable future.
EA subsidiaries DICE (Battlefield) and Visceral Games (Dead Space) were confirmed to create new Star Wars games. BioWare was also mentioned in the announcement, though it is unclear at this time if their involvement concerns only further content for Star Wars: The Old Republic, or if they will also be developing other titles in the franchise.
Of particular interest here is the fate of the cancelled “mature” game Star Wars 1313. When LucasArts was killed, Disney kiboshed all existing projects. However, LucasArts reps soon clarified that Disney was “looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans,” and that 1313 could be such a project.
A game like 1313 seems a natural fit for Visceral, and as it was already in production at the time LucasArts was shuttered, it would require fewer resources from EA to complete, which is important factoring the no-doubt huge expense of the Disney deal.
For now, however, the press release doesn’t disclose any specific games, nor does it reveal the length of the deal or the amount of money EA spent to acquire it. Despite this, the news has already prompted a positive response from investors. Less than one hour after the announcement, EA’s stock price has climbed almost 2 percent.
With this deal, EA has acquired a huge cache of guaranteed moneymakers at a precarious moment for the company. No doubt we’ll be hearing much more about this at tomorrow’s investor call; be sure to check in with Game Front tomorrow after 3 p.m. PDT for our complete coverage of EA’s Q4 earnings call.