Star Wars: EA Reportedly Unhappy with Game License

Electronic Arts may not be entirely happy with the Star Wars license deal it made with Disney in 2013.

Star Wars Battlefront

It’s been a long, brutal five years for Electronic Arts when it comes to its coveted Star Wars license, which the publisher acquired back in 2013, only months after Disney’s $4 billion Lucasfilm buyout. In the years since EA secured the rights to make Star Wars console games, the publisher has only managed to release two titles: Star Wars Battlefront and its controversial sequel. But there have been other projects in the works in that time, including the scrapped action-adventure game from the now-shuttered Visceral Games and an open-world title from EA Vancouver that was just canceled this week.

Why has EA had so much trouble getting new Star Wars games on shelves? According to Kotaku, EA’s difficulties with the Star Wars license might have something to do with CEO Andrew Wilson, who has reportedly never been “entirely thrilled” with the 10-year licensing deal in the first place. This claim is according to Kotaku’s sources inside EA as well as former employees. The publisher responded to the report, calling the rumors “pure speculation and not accurate.”

Wilson has led the company since September 2013, chosen as the CEO of EA just months after the company made the deal with Disney in April of that year. But the deal was actually spearheaded by EA Labels president Frank Gibeau and former EA CEO John Riccitiello, both of whom have since moved on from the company. Wilson inherited the Star Wars deal so to speak.

As noted by Kotaku, the Wilson era has seen EA largely move away from third-party licenses in order to focus on its own franchises, such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Battlefield, Titanfall, and Anthem. This leaves Star Wars in a strange spot on EA’s lineup. Unlike with its first-party titles, EA is forced to consult with Lucasfilm and Disney on every aspect of a Star Wars project, not to mention that it has to share the profits made by these games with the House of Mouse. If the rumors are to be believed, the Star Wars license might be more problematic for EA, a company with plenty of other franchises to do with what it will, than it’s worth, at least in the eyes of its CEO.

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Wilson could be counting down the days for this Star Wars deal to be over so that his company can take the weight of arguably the biggest blockbuster franchise of all time off its shoulders. Considering the state of Star Wars games, even the fans might rejoice on that day.

EA still has a few Star Wars projects in the pipeline, though. Respawn Entertainment is working on a new action-adventure game called Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which is set to release late this year. There are also “smaller-scale” projects in development at EA Vancouver and Motive Studios, according to Kotaku. 

EA’s Star Wars license extends to 2023, so there’s still a chance the publisher will turn the ship around and release a few great adventures set in the galaxy far, far away. But so far, the deal just seems to be getting worse all the time…

John Saavedra is Games Editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9