After years of exclusively working with Electronic Arts to develop Star Wars videogames, the announcement-happy LucasFilm Games announced that Ubisoft Massive, the developers behind Tom Clancy’s The Division series, would be making a “story-driven, open world Star Wars game.”
The announcement comes by way of an interview on the official Star Wars website with the VP of LucasFilm Games, Douglas Reilly. In his interview, Reilly notes that this change is in line with the new direction for the brand, which aims to make games that “really resonate with fans and deliver across a breadth of platforms, genres, and experiences,” in order to broaden their appeal.
Reilly claims that LucasFilm Games has been in conversation with Ubisoft Massive for “almost a year,” meaning it’s probably still very early days for what is sure to be a large title. It seems that chief among the reasons for working with Ubisoft Massive specifically was the draw of the Snowdrop engine, which has powered their realistic-looking and immersive titles in The Division series. This move makes sense after working with DICE, who are known for their photorealistic games, on the Star Wars Battlefront titles in order to make the games feel authentic to the Star Wars property.
The move away from EA comes after a long, sometimes tumultuous, but ultimately fruitful relationship. Back in 2013, Disney announced that they had entered into agreement with EA to exclusively develop future videogames in the Star Wars brand. The deal, which wasn’t set to expire until 2023, bore a number of successful titles, especially with their first release, Star Wars Battlefront, in 2015 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from Respawn Entertainment in 2019. Between those titles there was also Star Wars Battlefront II, a title that was panned by its audience for a predatory reliance on microtransactions, but even that game eventually went through a series of changes that turned the tide of its favorability in due time. There was also Project Ragtag, a game which never entirely came together and was canceled, but shared characteristics with the title announced today, namely that it too was story-driven and open world.
With the announcement of this title with Ubisoft Massive, it seems the deal won’t be renewed after 2023. However, while the exclusivity deal with EA seems set to expire, Reilly insists it is not the end of Star Wars’ relationship with EA. Reilly says that they “will continue working with them” and that their “relationship has never been stronger.” While he claims he can’t divulge too many details, Reilly does assure that there are “a number of projects” being worked on by teams at EA.