In what will certainly come across as a surprising statement to many, Disney CEO Bob Iger shared that he’s actually happy with Disney’s partnership with EA. Why? Well, it seems to have something to do with his feeling that Disney has never really been that good at video games.
“We’re good at making movies and television shows and theme parks and cruise ships and the like, we’ve just never managed to demonstrate much skill on the publishing side of games,” Iger said during a recent earnings call. “We’ve had good relationships with some of those we’re licensing to, notably EA and the relationship on the Star Wars properties, and we’re probably going to stay on that side of the business and put our capital elsewhere.”
In the minds of gamers everywhere, this statement probably doesn’t make much sense. Even if you put aside the subjective feeling that EA’s recent Star Wars games are horrible compared to the Star Wars games of old (they are), there’s still the business side of the relationship. EA hasn’t actually developed that many Star Wars games in recent years and one of their biggest games (Star Wars Battlefront 2) featured such a controversial microtransaction system that Disney’s Iger reportedly had to call EA and request a change. On top of that, EA has killed off a few high-profile (and potentially incredible) Star Wars projects.
Still, the sad truth of the matter is that Iger’s statement does make sense from Disney’s point of view. In the minds of Disney, the best thing about EA is that it’s a huge company that Disney can just offer a license to and (mostly) forget about it. If Disney isn’t really that concerned with the overall creative quality of the games that utilize its properties, it’s just significantly cheaper and easier to license them out to the biggest company that will have them. This point was driven home by the company stating that it expects to lose quite a bit of money on the Disney+ streaming service simply because it will lose the licensing fees it has with Netflix and other content providers.
That will probably offer no comfort to the legion of Star Wars gaming fans who are left to wonder whether or not we’ll ever get games like KOTOR 3. There was some hope that the success of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 would inspire Disney to shop the Star Wars license around, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
We suppose there’s always the hope that Jedi: Fallen Order turns out to be a worthwhile game.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.