Star Wars is freed from EA's claws: New Star Wars open world RPG from Ubisoft in development
In April 2013, Lucasfilm announced the closure of LucasArts, its game development division. Disney, the then new owner of Lucasfilm, had no business being in the AAA game development. Thus, the decision was made to shatter the decades old LucasArts, formerly known as Lucasfilm games. Future Star Wars games, outside of casual titles, would be developed by Electronic Arts (EA). That deal gave EA the exclusive access to the IP, meaning no one else would get a license. No non EA-game would be set in the extensive Star Wars universe at least until 2024.
Nearly a decade later, the deal with EA turned out to be semi-productive. There have been a total of four EA Star Wars games - Star Wars Battlefront (2015), Star Wars Battlefront II (2017), Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) as well as Star Wars Squadrons (2020).
For such a huge IP, a disappointing amount of games. EA had more in the development pipeline, such as Visceral's "Project Ragtag", a single player RPG cancelled in 2017. And some of the games pushed out by EA were surrounded with controversies. Star Wars Battlefront was criticized for lack of single-player content and the expensive season pass. Its successor, Star Wars Battlefront II, had a disastrous launch with pay-to-win lootboxes, a feature EA hastily removed after mass fan-outcry.
It is no big surprise then that Lucasfilm has little interest to continue with the exclusivity deal. Instead, the company is opening up the IP to more developers. To achieve this, the old Lucasfilm Games label is being revived - not as an active developer, but as a licensing company. The first beneficiary is Ubisoft. The publisher and its development studio Massive Entertainment is developing a new open world RPG set in the Star Wars universe.
That does not mean that EA is completely out of the picture. The company will remain a partner of Lucasfilm Games - but no longer with exclusive rights.