LucasArts’ Star Wars FPS Could Pave the Path for Battlefront III — So Long As Disney Force Pulls Its Head Out of Its Ass
Disney’s acquisition of George Lucas’ empire and everything Star Wars is heralding a bright new era for fans of the films. A new sequel trilogy featuring the return of old heroes Luke, Leia, and Han is being developed under the auspicious lens of genre film’s golden boy, J.J. Abrams. Self-contained feature lengths that could potentially flesh out fan favorite characters are even being optioned. Disney and Star Wars seems like a match made in Cloud City…
Unless we’re talking about the franchise’s video game front. LucasArts, the in-house studio which has overseen every single Star Wars game since 1982, has received the unwanted privilege of experiencing Disney’s dark side. After announcing their intention to move Star Wars away from big budget console games and into the more lucrative mobile phone market, LucasArts’ existing projects were thrown into question.
Star Wars 1313, for instance, was loudly rumored to have frozen production despite an impressive showing of the next-gen title at last year’s E3. Today, Kotaku caught wind of another title under LucasArts’ wing called Star Wars: First Assault has also had its future cast into doubt. In First Assault’s case, its potential cancellation could have dire consequences for gamers. Namely, Star Wars: Battlefront III will never see the light of day (for real this time).
First Assault may not seem to have much in common with Battlefront at a glance. The downloadable FPS doesn’t feature massive land and space battles nor does it include controllable vehicles — a Battlefront hallmark. It does, however, revolve around eight-on-eight competitive multiplayer bouts pitting rebels and stormtroopers against each other in famous locales from series lore; warring factions being the bread and butter of the Battlefront saga.
The source willing to speak with Kotaku on the studio’s troubled times assures us First Assault serves as a prelude to Battlefront III and is proof positive that the Unreal Engine can handle such a huge endeavor (Side note: Despite having been worked on by several developers, Free Radical included, LucasArts’ latest attempt to get Battlefront III on its feet utilizes completely new assets, according to the source).
The Wampa-kicker here is that First Assault is nearly finished (the company wanted to launch a closed beta last September), yet LucasArts isn’t even sure Disney will want to release it. New hires and gaming related announcements have been put on hold thanks to the buy-out, leaving LucasArts to chug away at development on its titles without assurance their efforts aren’t for nothing. The source says the studio is “bleeding talent” awaiting their overlord’s final word — good or bad.
Unfortunately for LucasArts, they’re unable to freely share their work with the public and rally support for fear of pissing off Disney. This leak, however, is an opportunity for the light side of the force to prevail. “Fans should tell Disney/Lucas loud and clear,” said Kotaku’s source, “They don’t want shitty titles from random developers…I believe that if Disney/Lucas lets LucasArts die, it means the death of Star Wars as a storied game franchise is right behind it.”