Star Wars Battlefront may have only just released, but Electronic Arts has made no delay in announcing further plans for the franchise. Last week, the publisher hinted that there were more Battlefront titles to come. EA CFO Blake Jorgenson gave a less-than-cryptic message during last week’s UBS Global Technology Conference, stating that the publisher aims to “make future Battlefront games.”
This may come as a surprise, given the lukewarm reception to the game from critics. Although Star Wars Battlefront looks, sounds, and feels incredibly authentic for Star Wars fans, there has been criticism over a perceived lack of depth, with worries that the fun may run out quite quickly. With only 12 maps available, spread thin across four locations and a limited number of game modes, there’s a real worry that the game may have little by way of replayability.
EA is almost certainly not worried about any kind of commercial failings – in fact, the publisher had to up its estimated sales from 9 million to 13 million units sold. However, Battlefront’s longevity is no sure-fire thing, and recent gaming history is littered with multiplayer games that have lost their user base rapidly. Evolve, predicted as a must-have multiplayer game, saw a dramatic drop in its player numbers just after launch.
Rather than focusing on future Star Wars Battlefront titles, there’s plenty of potential for Star Wars video games that hit on fresh new ground. EA, who acquired the right to make Star Wars games from Disney after the media powerhouse bought Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion, has suggested that there are a number of other Star Wars games in the works. We already know a little about some of them – and they aren’t simple tie-ins to the new movie trilogy.
According to reports, EA Canada is working on an open-world game set in the Star Wars universe. Although information is still incredibly thin on the ground, there’s potential for EA to create something interesting with the Star Wars license. EA CEO Andrew Wilson has even cited Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games as inspiration for how EA, and its studios such as DICE, Visceral, and BioWare, should treat the license – building upon the power of the IP to tell an immersive story in its own right.
It’s why the news that EA is already thinking of another Battlefront game is a little disappointing. Aside from the fact that Star Wars Battlefront has proved to be a little underwhelming, with promises of an additional 16 season pass maps little solace for those who have bought the game at full price, there is so much more to do within Star Wars, and so much new ground to cover. After all, where best to explore new ideas than within an entire galaxy?
If EA had any concerns about forging its own path with the Star Wars franchise, then there are examples other than Batman to look to. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor played hard and loose with the Lord of the Rings series, delivering a story separate from the main Tolkien tales with its own darker tone. Closer in style of Assassin’s Creed, the game proved to be a smash hit, selling by the bucketload and winning game of the year awards, with particular approval for its Nemesis mechanic.
Star Wars was, of course, close to having its own gritty spin-off. Star Wars: 1313 looked set to throw players head first into the world of crime syndicates, delivering violent firefights in the dark underbelly of the galaxy’s bounty hunters. Unfortunately, the title was officially lost during the Disney takeover of LucasArts, with 1313 being put out of its development hell – much to the disappointment of fans.
In truth, Star Wars could work in any number of genres of gaming – and with such a dedicated fanbase, it’s likely that an ambitious and radical venture would still result in commercial success. Star Wars has managed to jump from fast-paced platforming in Super Star Wars, to first-person shooters such as Dark Forces, and impressive, expansive RPGs including Knights of the Old Republic. Indeed, there’s little limit to how far the franchise could be pushed, although some may feel differently after Kinect Star Wars.
It’s early days for EA’s deal with Disney, so it makes sense for the publisher to have played it safe with its first major release. Next, though, it would be interesting to see a more ambitious project, and to see the publisher making best use of the huge license that it has at its disposal. Perhaps when BioWare has finished working on Mass Effect Andromeda, the spacebound RPG masters could take another look at the Star Wars universe.
Personally, I cannot wait to see what EA has planned – as long as the next project isn’t simply a Battlefront sequel. Whether an impressive, explorative RPG in the vein of Mass Effect, or a survival/horror game focused on the last stormtrooper on Endor avoiding bloodthirsty Ewoks on the hunt for a juicy imperial meal, there’s so much potential for the Star Wars franchise. Let’s see what EA has in store.