Okay. We’re going to need a lot of tinfoil for this one. Like, a lot of it. Everyone suitably wearing their hats? Good. There’s some scuttlebutt out there that seems to suggest that Disney and Lucasfilm Ltd. are shopping around for new Star Wars game publishers, potentially in direct response to continued fan reaction and assumed mishandling of the franchise in EA’s hands.
According to anonymous sources, Disney and LFL execs have reportedly pulled EA “to the principal’s office” with regards to the state of the Star Wars license in the publisher’s care and have been shopping around for other publishers to handle games for Star Wars, with Ubisoft and Activision being name-dropped in the report.
The timing seems to suggest that the event in question is recent, but also references reports in November about Disney strong-arming EA’s decision to remove loot boxes from Star Wars Battlefront 2, which could mean that the search for different publishers was part of Disney’s tactics to bring EA back in line.
Incidentally, there’s word that Disney is capable of looking for alternate publishers despite having a contract with EA as a result of a clause that would let the Star Wars license change hands “if certain standards/conditions weren’t being met”. Whether the agreement between EA and Disney has such a clause has not been confirmed.
These all directly fly in the face of statements made by EA CEO Andrew Wilson during a fiscal earnings call, where he stated that EA and Disney have “a tremendous relationship” and denied reports of Disney’s attempts to step in.
It is vital to note that the sources in question were not able to provide specifics, with the only vetting of said sources being that they have been “trusted in the past”. So be sure to include some salt grains along with those tinfoil hats.
It’s not what one would consider to be the most solid of sources, but it’s also hard to ignore EA’s impact on Star Wars games in recent months, with entire world governments pointing at the publisher’s loot box practices as a means to push gambling on children and calling Battlefront 2 “a Star Wars casino”. Having an IP owned by Disney associated with harming children certainly goes against the very identity of Disney, so it’s not too off the wall that they would be displeased. If more firm details arise from this story, we’ll be sure to report them ASAP.