For many gamers out there, EA has come to represent everything that’s wrong with triple-A game development. The publishing giant has been responsible for the acquisition and eventual shuttering of many a beloved development studio over the years; their sports franchises have become vehicles for loot boxes and their leadership has been on record stating their refusal to publish single-player experiences. All of that aside, their highest-profile struggles are most certainly those regarding their handling of the Star Wars license and the mere two games published on their watch.
Put bluntly, it’s been an ugly mess of under-delivering combined with a very naked attempt to cash-in on the loot box craze during the initial weeks following the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II. EA has been in the proverbial doghouse ever since, and the failures of Anthem and Battlefield V haven’t made the situation any better. There’s a ray of hope for both EA and Star Wars fans though: a new, single-player and narrative-driven Star Wars game being developed by Respawn Entertainment. So far, it’s all looking good for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order; it’s just a matter of whether or not EA is willing to let them deliver.
It’s kind of amazing that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order even exists at all right now. It was only a couple of years ago that EA famously cancelled Visceral Studio’s Star Wars project before shutting down the studio, and it was only a couple months ago that gamers found out about yet another cancelled project, an open-world Star Wars game this time. If not for the recent details dropped about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, one would think EA was still very much committed to its multiplayer-only strategy. Here we all are anyway though, with a new Star Wars game due out later this year that both EA and Respawn have promised will have no microtransactions or multiplayer.
It sounds almost too good to be true, but what if it isn’t? What if this is exactly what they deliver and it’s wildly successful? If that is indeed what comes to pass, then EA will find itself faced with an interesting decision. They could either ignore it and continue down the dark path of only producing microtransaction-laden, multiplayer-only games, or they could get pulled back towards the light-side and consider also investing in quality single-player experiences again. Companies must follow the money if they want to continue to be successful; that’s a fact even EA can’t ignore.
Good single player games make money. This isn’t just historically true; recent years and releases have born the statement out too. DOOM (2016), Marvel’s Spider-Man and especially God of War are all excellent examples of this, and they’re but a few out of the many high-profile examples to come out in 2018 alone. There’s plenty of praise, critical acclaim and of course money to be had in the single-player space. Such games will never reach the peaks that a Fortnite can, but then neither can most other multiplayer-only games; even Apex: Legends is starting to slow down. What’s more, EA is in an even better position to go after this market than the likes of Activision thanks to the printing press that is their sports franchises. The only reason they don’t pursue it is because they just don’t want to.
With Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Electronic Arts has a chance to earn back some of the goodwill it lost in the Star Wars: Battlefront II debacle. It won’t be enough to make up for everything, and gamers won’t stop gritting their teeth whenever the publisher acquires a new developer. It will still do them a world of good to publish a true high-quality product for a change though, and it’ll do them even more good if they followed it up by committing to making more like it in the future. We can all win with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order; it’s just a matter of EA and Respawn following through on their promises and reaping the rewards that will inevitably follow.