Can EA Ever Please Star Wars Fanboys?
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For a while now, all big Star Wars games released on consoles have been published by Electronic Arts due to a deal made with Disney in 2013 that determined that EA would have exclusive publishing rights for games based on the franchise. For a while now, Star Wars games have, largely, underperformed. But is EA starting to figure out what fans of the series want in their games?

It’s possible. The recent announcement of Star Wars: Squadrons imbues me with a new hope for the franchise because it’s a departure from expectations. It’s also a blast from the past. The game certainly harkens back to the Rogue Squadron games that were available on the Nintendo 64 and the Nintendo GameCube.

What’s noteworthy about these titles, beyond the fact that they were extraordinarily fun, is that they were part of a genre that we rarely see today. Aerial combat games are largely underrepresented in their own right, and that’s all the more true for aerial combat games based in a sci-fi setting. It seems like EA is experimenting a bit to see if this style of game has a place in the current gaming landscape.

I am a fan of that experimental spirit. That is, likely, what made Star Wars games so exciting back in the day. I don’t think it’s just my nostalgia clouding my thinking when I say that the slew of Star Wars games we were treated to over a decade ago were of a more creative blend. This is probably a result of the competition produced from multiple companies developing games. But it is also probably a result from a larger pool of creatives coming up with ideas.

The industry also seems aware of a growing interest in older style Star Wars titles. In 1998, Disney and LucasArts re-released Star Wars Episode 1: Racer which is, as the name would imply, a racing game set in the Star Wars universe. It was fast paced and wholly unique at the time with interesting mechanics that truly captured the feeling of the podracing seen in the first film. Beyond that, players were able to race in other settings that weren’t seen in the films. This week, the game was also re-released on the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4.

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The industry also seems aware of a growing interest in older style Star Wars titles. In 1998, Disney and LucasArts re-released Star Wars Episode 1: Racer which is, as the name would imply, a racing game set in the Star Wars universe. It was fast paced and wholly unique at the time with interesting mechanics that truly captured the feeling of the podracing seen in the first film. Beyond that, players were able to race in other settings that weren’t seen in the films. This week, the game was also re-released on the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4.

It’s heartening to see the Star Wars games of yesteryear receive so much love. And I welcome EA’s seemingly new approach. Star Wars: Squadrons seems, from what I can tell so far, like a very compelling blend of the old Rogue Squadron games and more modern design philosophies. We can expect to see a story that plays out from the perspectives of both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. We can expect to customize our characters. We can expect cross-platform play for multiplayer. And we can even expect the game to have virtual reality elements if played on the PlayStation 4 and PC. I am now very curious about what we can expect next from EA in terms of Star Wars titles. It seems like they’re learning.

Benjamin Maltbie
Benjamin Maltbie

Writing Team Lead
Date: 07/07/2020

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