In a move that should surprise precisely no one, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced during the company’s 2019 first-quarter earnings call that the entertainment giant has no plans to part ways with Electronic Arts in regard to the development of Star Wars related video games. Though far from unprecedented, Iger’s reaffirmation of his faith in the notoriously shady publisher was nonetheless discouraging to gamers dissatisfied with EA’s handling of the beloved property.
“We’ve had good relationships with some of those we’re licensing to, notably EA and the relationship on the Star Wars properties,” Iger stated in response to a question regarding Disney’s apparent disinterest in self-publishing when it comes to the video game space. “We’re going to continue to stay in that side of the business and put our capital elsewhere.”
In the report, Iger made it clear that Disney is primarily concerned with the development of its film franchises and theme parks while remaining content with the middling performance of the Star Wars license under EA. Were the Mouse House to prioritize such endeavors, they would almost certainly want to look for other third-party publishing options. Unfortunately, despite involving both themselves and the property in a number of controversies over the past half decade, Electronic Arts apparently has yet to alert a seemingly detached Disney.
Bob Iger has said they do not plan to publish video games through Disney in the future and will instead focus on licensing their brands to respective game studios such as EA with their Star Wars license. pic.twitter.com/NxqAYzcYAs— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) February 5, 2019
It’s no secret that the publisher hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations when it comes to the handling of the Star Wars franchise; they pushed out two erroneously-titled Battlefront games over the past few years—neither of which were met with stellar reviews—and cancelled a host of seemingly more interesting single player experiences in favor of the always-online live service game model. That’s not to mention the series of controversies EA stirred up over the past year in relation to some of their other properties, most notably Battlefield and it’s divisive new installment.
It could very well be that Iger’s confidence in Electronic Arts stems more from his disinterest in the video game medium than genuine respect for what they’re doing, and the fact remains that Disney could still back out of their exclusivity deal without severing ties with the publisher entirely. Though scant details surrounding Respawn’s upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order may entice some, it seems like we’ll still be getting our fair share of live-service, microtransaction-laden Star Wars titles in the future.