EA and Disney sign exclusive deal for rights to Star Wars games

Electronic Arts and Disney have signed an exclusive, multi-year licensing agreement for EA to publish Star Wars games developed by Visceral Games, DICE and BioWare, the companies announced today.

The agreement covers titles aimed at core gamers on "all interactive platforms"; Disney retains the rights to make casual and social games in the Star Wars universe on mobile devices, tablets and the web. The House of Mouse acquired Lucasfilm and its subsidiary LucasArts for $4.05 billion last October, and closed LucasArts last month.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Every developer dreams of creating games for the Star Wars universe," said Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels, in a press release from EA. "Three of our top studios will fulfill that dream, crafting epic adventures for Star Wars fans. DICE and Visceral will produce new games, joining the BioWare team which continues to develop for the Star Wars franchise. The new experiences we create may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay."

In a blog post published on EA's The Beat blog, Gibeau discussed his personal connection to Star Wars, calling it "an epic world that had a powerful influence on my life." He added, "The magic of Star Wars is interwoven into the worlds, characters, planets and amazing battles. It is a universe that lends itself perfectly to gaming. Our agreement unlocks a whole new future of Star Wars games that will span consoles, PCs, tablets, mobile and more."

According to Gibeau, the games will all be developed on EA DICE's Frostbite 3 engine, which is also the technology behind the upcoming Battlefield 4. BioWare, which developed the celebrated last-generation title Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, is continuing development on the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, which was released in December 2011. Neither Visceral (Dead Space) nor DICE (Battlefield) has previously made a Star Wars title.

"Star Wars is a universe that lends itself perfectly to gaming"

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a press release on the Star Wars website that the company's primary goal was to choose a game publisher who could consistently deliver "great Star Wars games for years to come." She continued, "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."

Disney Interactive will be developing its own casual games, and also working with EA on its Star Wars titles, said co-president John Pleasants. "Collaborating with one of the world's premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to our fans around the world." John Vignocchi, executive producer on Disney Infinity, told Polygon last month that the company will be working with outside developers for future games based on Disney-owned brands such as those from the Marvel and Star Wars universes.

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