After almost eight years of exclusivity with EA, Lucasfilm Games will be joining forces with Ubisoft to create an open-world Star Wars game. And that’s just the beginning.
Today, Lucasfilm Games announced that it’s entering a partnership with Ubisoft to create an open-world Star Wars game. The title will be developed by Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment, marking the first time that a company outside of EA has produced a Star Wars game since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, ending nearly eight years of exclusivity. Also in the works is a new Indiana Jones game, to be developed by Bethesda Game Studios, a newcomer to Lucasfilm’s and Disney’s properties.
Let’s start with Star Wars. Development on this new title is still very early—Massive is still recruiting for the project even—so details are sparse. Julian Gerighty, director of The Division 2 and The Crew, will serve as the game’s creative director, and the title will use Massive’s Snowdrop engine. Beyond that, Lucasfilm Games hasn’t revealed anything about the characters or settings within the Star Wars universe that the game will feature.
This announcement follows yesterday’s news that Lucasfilm is partnering with Bethesda to create an Indiana Jones title, the first non-Star Wars AAA game out of Lucasfilm in years. The move marks a seismic shift for Lucasfilm’s approach to gaming, widening the tent for developers that want to create games using Lucasfilm franchises, particularly in the Star Wars universe.
EA had previously suggested that the company would have exclusivity on Star Wars games for 10 years. While EA will keep making games in the future, but Lucasfilm Games is free to seek other partners. Its also possible, even likely, that the upcoming Ubisoft Star Wars game will launch after the EA exclusivity agreement ends (in about two more years.)
“EA has been and will continue to be a very strategic and important partner for us now and going forward,” Sean Shoptaw, senior vice president of Global Games and Interactive Experiences at Disney, told WIRED. “But we did feel like theres room for others.”
After this story initially published, an EA spokesperson reached out to WIRED to provide the following statement: “We are proud of our long-standing collaboration with Lucasfilm Games, which will continue for years to come. Our talented teams have created some of the most successful games in the history of the Star Wars franchise, including Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefront II, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, and Star Wars: Squadrons. We love Star Wars, and we look forward to creating more exciting experiences for players to enjoy.”
In 2013, Disney laid off 150 employees at LucasArts, ending in-house game development. The rationale at the time was that the move would minimize “the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games,” according to a statement the company made to The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
However, in the years since, the EA exclusivity deal has been criticized as a bottleneck to that goal. Aside from a few small mobile or VR games, the number of major Star Wars games from EA since 2013 can be counted on one hand. By allowing more developers to bring in their ideas for games, Lucasfilm hopes to diversify the titles it offers, and engage more deeply in the collaborative design and development process.
“The Star Wars galaxy is an amazing source of motivation for our teams to innovate and push the boundaries of our medium. Building new worlds, characters and stories that will become lasting parts of the Star Wars lore is an incredible opportunity for us, and we are excited to have our Ubisoft Massive studio working closely with Lucasfilm Games to create an original Star Wars adventure that is different from anything that has been done before.”