A few months back Free Radical Design co-founder Steve Ellis revealed that development on Star Wars: Battlefront was “a 99% finished game.” We’ve learned since then, leading up to and after the sad closure of LucasArts by new owners Disney, that LucasArts was trying to bring the already-canceled-once title back, and got pretty close too.
In addition to Star Wars 1313, another game titled Star Wars: First Assault was supposed to be announced last fall and it was a predecessor for an eventual Battlefront 3. It was around that time that LucasArts was still hiring. And then came Disney.
Lucasfilm must have been working out the details of the imminent deal with Disney where it’s now clear that video games weren’t a big part of the plan. Disney wanted the Star Wars movies and the merchandising rights. They didn’t want LucasArts with its troubled history nor did they want a part of its attempted comeback.
According to Kotaku’s sources, LucasArts were mere “hours” away from announcing Star Wars: First Assault when high-ups put a stop to that. Afterward, there was a freeze on hiring and announcements, and employees were under strict orders to keep tight-lipped at events like GDC.
Couple that with the reports of issues with development on Star Wars 1313 and Disney was painting a cloudy, but poor picture for LucasArts and we all know how it ended last week: with its complete shutdown. Disney will now license out Star Wars for other developers to make games from but the games that were already well into development are probably gone for good.
As for what was, Kotaku reports there were several projects in development:
- Star Wars 1313
- Star Wars: First Assault
- A mysterious game by Splinter Cell designer Clint Hocking
- Star Wars: Outpost – a social game comparable to FarmVille
- An unnamed iOS game
Most of them were canned, if not overhauled, over the months leading to and surrounding the Disney deal as key people left LucasArts. What remained since the acquisition were 1313, First Assault and another project which brings us to the gameplay footage up top. This is codenamed “Phase Two” and it’s the evolution of Star Wars: First Assault into what was meant to be Star Wars: Battlefront 3. It was in the works by a small team but like everything else, it’s no more.
The footage features vehicular and first-person combat, with weapons, vehicles and maps from both Star Wars trilogies and it doesn’t look bad at all. Fans have been clamoring for a new Battlefront for years and with the new film trilogy on the way, such a game will likely be realized eventually, and it would hit multiple niches, since not only are there no triple-A Star Wars games currently available (outside of The Old Republic) but there haven’t been any console Rogue Squadrons or PC X-Wing games in years either., let alone the Jedi Knight series, etc.
Are these games done for good? A Kotaku source says:
“Disney says they’re shopping [First Assault] around to other outlets to see if they want to finish it, but we don’t think that’s gonna happen.”
Rumors had Electronic Arts interested in acquiring the LucasArts division to become the sole publisher of Star Wars games going forward but they’ve since confirmed they’re not looking into acquisitions at the moment with the current state of the industry. Winning the “Worst Company in America” award for the second year in a row couldn’t have helped either, especially when adding the latest round of layoffs we heard about today.
“EA is sharpening its focus to provide games for new platforms and mobile. In some cases, this involves reducing team sizes as we evolve into a more efficient organization. These are difficult decisions to let go of good people who have made important contributions to EA, and whenever possible we retrain or relocate employees to new roles. Streamlining our operations will help ensure EA is bringing the best next-generation games to players around the world.”
There won’t be any major Star Wars games for quite some time, at least until the films start to make their return. When that happens, expect plenty of games, but hopefully not movie tie-ins or sequels to Kinect Star Wars. Let’s get DICE working on Battlefront 3, Digital Extremes working on a new Jedi Knight and Cloud Imperium Games Corporation working on an X-Wing Alliance followup!
- How ‘Star Wars 1313′ Can Fit Within Disney’s Movie Plans
- ‘Star Wars 1313′ Was Centered Around Boba Fett; Revival Chances Slim
Follow on Twitter @rob_keyes and let him know what Star Wars game you want to play the most!