BioWare to Fight New 'Star Wars'
Locally based 'Mass Effect' creators one of three firms on new games
By Richard Whittaker, 5:30PM, Mon. May. 6
Looks like local gaming house BioWare won't be packing up their Lightsabers any time soon. Disney Studios has just announced that the Austin-based firm will be part of a new deal with Electronic Arts to produce the next generation of Star Wars games.
Under the newly struck deal between the House of Mouse and Electronic Arts, Bioware will work on a slate of so-far unnamed gamed alongside DICE (Battlefield, Mirror's Edge) and Visceral Games (Dead Space). According to the press release, the three will work on games for "the core Star Wars gaming audience." Meanwhile, Disney Interactive will reach out to casual gamers with mobile, social, tablet and online gaming.
In a statement, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said, "Our number one objective was to find a developer who could consistently deliver our fans great Star Wars games for years to come. When we looked at the talent of the teams that EA was committing to our games and the quality of their vision for Star Wars, the choice was clear."
This is, of course, big news for BioWare. The firm has a long history with the franchise Back in 2003, they released the highly-regarded Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic RPG. In 2011, they returned with Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO to mixed response (some of it fueled by annoyance that it meant the death of the veteran Star Wars Galaxies.) While the game became free-to-play last year, BioWare has continued to develop new premium content, including the massive Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion which went live in April. This latest deal seems to make the future of SW:TOR a little more secure. Back when it first released, game producer Dallas Dickinson told me there were "people in our team, especially on the design and art side, who know Star Wars backwards and forwards." Presumably the firm will be drawing on that same talent again.
It's also big news for Star Wars fans. One of Disney's first steps when it bought out the franchise was to restructure (ie lay staff off.) It was LucasArts' turn on April 3, when it was announced that all development would cease, all outstanding projects cancelled, and the gaming house responsible for iconic entertainment like the Monkey Island point-and-click adventures and a slew of Star Wars games including Dark Forces and Jedi Knight. No news so far on whether this means any LucasArts projects, like the intriguing Gangs of Coruscant-esque 1313, left in limbo by the acquisition.