Which Publisher Should Acquire the Star Wars License After EA’s Expires?

This list is in no order and entirely my opinion.

Option 1.) Sony Interactive Entertainment

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A controversial choice, but hear me out. EA built a fairly strong relationship with SIE, forming a marketing push with Star Wars ads with a PlayStation banner and PS4 bundles, and that is not likely without Disney’s permission. Money was made from both Battlefront games and that’s all that matters to Disney. I know Sony and Disney are competitors in the film industry, but the video game industry is an entirely different beast. Furthermore, Marvel, a division of Disney, commissioned Sony to work on a new Marvel game, which we know of today as Spider-Man releasing in (potentially) the first half of 2018. With these two factors in mind, we see a slim, but visible chance Sony would acquire the Star Wars games rights. Now, what makes them a better choice than EA? Well, there are multiple variables. Historically, SIE are dealmakers with third-party developers, so any Star Wars games would be second-party games if their first-party studios are occupied.

Quality is not an issue either as almost every year, there is at least one Sony title that exceeded or met a 90-score on Metacritic. Their games are generally clean when it comes to bugs and glitches as well. While Sony Star Wars games would be awesome to see, it’s difficult to see Disney gamble with only one platform, the PlayStation 5. EA’s contract will expire in the ninth generation of consoles and we have no idea how the next-generation Xbox or PlayStation will perform as, obviously, no sales figures exist for them yet.

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Nintendo is less likely to be given the license since they never had any marketing deal with Disney. However, Microsoft does have a relationship with Disney, but Sony seems to be a better candidate than them as they have more first-party studios than Microsoft. Also, Sony doesn’t have a reputation of cancelling large-scale projects, unlike Microsoft. Overall, Sony Interactive Entertainment would be a valid choice, albeit a controversial one as all of their games will be exclusive to their platform.

Option 2.) Ubisoft

 

Of the “Big Three” third-party publishers (EA, Activision, and Ubisoft), Ubisoft seems to be the only publisher that shows signs of improvement. As we see EA deteriorate even more and Activision strongly disappoint gamers more frequently, Ubisoft legitimately listens and responds to the community. They gave both Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed a year (or two) break and AC had a rousing return to Egypt. Their sequels have shown improvement in quality. Surprisingly, Watch_Dogs 2 is considered underrated by the community, and South Park: The Fractured but Whole was critically praised as a superior game to its predecessor. We also know their big projects are kept alive no matter what (see Beyond Good and Evil 2), so cancellations are out of the picture as well. Their future is looking brighter than their past and I believe that’s a very good sign.

Even their less impressive games like Ghost Recon Wildlands maintain a solid following as gamers simply find that game fun. So, that means Ubisoft is the best pick, right? Well, not really. Ubisoft has a long history of botching their game releases and lacking the same quality control of publishers like Take 2 or Nintendo. Also, season passes and MTs are prevalent and we’ve had enough of those in Star Wars games. Although, season passes and even MTs can be done correctly and in a less offensive way, and Ubisoft haven’t made headlines over scummy MTs in their games this year and their season passes are sufficient as far as AAA games go.

Option 3.) Take-Two Interactive

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These options are progressively becoming more and more unlikely, but this is a list of suitable publishers that should be given the Star Wars license, right? Take-Two Interactive, the home of gaming empires like 2K and Rockstar Games, has a very good track record with quality and quantity. The Borderlands series, GTA, Civilization, and XCOM are Take-Two products. These guys are a pretty big deal. They also have many studios that could produce solid Star Wars games in all genres. A Star Wars-themed Civilization and XCOM would be interesting, right? How about an open-world Star Wars game that takes places in multiple planets done by Rockstar? Salivating over that idea? Yeah, me too.

 

How clean are they? Sadly, pretty mediocre. 2K Sports developed an awful habit of luring consumers into purchasing MTs. Rockstar is a little better, but they might fall victim to shameful corporate practices with Red Dead Redemption 2. Hopefully, the noise gamers made over EA’s terrible moves could deter any future attempt at blatant nickel-and-diming consumers. Take-Two also isn’t short of studios either, as Rockstar Toronto, Leeds, New England, and London seem to be not working on any future projects. I mostly tossed in Take-Two due to the idea of a Rockstar Star Wars game. Come on, any sound-minded gamer would want that in his or her console or PC.

Option 4.) Devolver Digital

 

Practically impossible? Yeah, but it would be an interesting choice. Devolver Digital is the anti-publisher. In the next few years, when EA’s license expires, I see a much bigger Devolver Digital. Their games become less stereotypically “indie” and they start to spread their wings. The budgets increase and the ideas start to become more ambitious. Devolver Digital mocked publishers for milking customers dry and promise traditional, organic video games. Would they be an unorthodox choice? Of course. However, if Disney chooses Devolver Digital, that is essentially their protest vote. DD gets funded by the big D (don’t laugh) and DD wins over gamers with sweet, delicious, MT-free Star Wars games.

Option 5.) Disney

 

Why didn’t I think of this before? Disney could completely axe the idea of signing permanent deals with publishers. Seeing the destruction of two massive Star Wars games by corporate greed, Disney might feel distrustful of publishers. The video game industry is the worst offender of corporate greed since profits are essentially infinite with the idea of microtransactions and paid DLC. You can see a movie just once and move on. No movie distributor segments a film in half to artificially expand profits… Oh wait, they already do that with two-part finales in franchises. The first part is always the dull one. Anyway, what deviates the video game industry from the others is the versatility of greed. Game publishers can slice a product however they want.

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With Destiny, Activision created a faux-MMORPG with a premium $60 entry fee in addition to season passes and microtransactions that limits those who just paid the entry fee. A literal goldmine. Some publishers are less criminal than others, like the four (or three if you discount Ubisoft) I listed above. Signing a decade-long, permanent contract for one publisher is an incredibly risky move and Disney learnt their lesson with this persistent EA fiasco. Lord knows what EA will attempt to do with Visceral’s former project or Respawn Entertainment’s upcoming project. Disney is an intelligent corporation. They understand that a positive public perception is key to receiving satisfactory profit. Why would they bargain with a publisher again? Sony is flirting with the idea of spreading microtransactions in their projects, likewise with Take-Two and Ubisoft could easily revert back to their old selves. The only safe publisher is Devolver Digital and their latest project is a penis party game called Genital Jousting. Yeah, that’s what I think about when Disney comes to mind.

If Disney is the publisher, they don’t need to worry about misbehaving corporate heads. They can commission any developer whose history suits their quality standards. The only obstacle is the lack of official game publisher, but this is Disney we’re talking about. They can easily resurrect Disney Interactive in their sleep. Just create a QA team, a localisation team, and other marketing and legal teams and you’re golden. Disney shouldn’t trust game publishers anymore. Far too many see Star Wars as a potential milking machine, not a property beloved by millions. They hardly respect any of their properties, actually. If it makes tons of money, abuse the living crap out of it until customers (or developers) thrown in the towel. Independent developers still exist, and there are more than we think. Star Wars games have a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s only up to Disney to determine how bright that light would be.

 

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