Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Disney Gives EA Exclusive Console Gaming Development for Star Wars. WHY?!

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." Quite honestly, Obi-Wan pretty much sums up how I feel about this. I have to admit, I was more on-board with Disney's purchase of the Star Wars franchise. Even moreso after the announcement of a new trilogy, and even moreso than that, after announcing movies outside of the main story being released every year there isn't a new numbered sequel. I was never totally enamored with the idea, but I've been very cautiously optimistic. Not certain they'd do great things, but knowing if anyone could, it'd be Disney. They've done great things with Marvel the last few years, though most of those movies aren't quite as amazing as they're made out to be, but still entertaining, and no one has the resources they do.

My optimism started to wane a few months ago with the announcement of the director for Star Wars: Episode VII, J.J. Abrams. While I love knowing John Williams will be creating the music, and Harrison Ford's always witty and entertaining character both naturally and as Han Solo will return, putting J.J. Abrams at the helm cancels those out for me. I don't think Abrams is a poor director necessarily, I just think he's possibly the most average director on the planet. I've never watched anything he worked on and had an emotional response to it. His movies, as well as his television series' always feel stale and robotic, just going through the motions without doing anything different or even exciting. That's not a movie-making formula that I think works with such a high-fantasy sci-fi, story-driven series like Star Wars in all its endless incarnations has been. But that aside, this isn't about J.J. Abrams, this is about *sighs* Electronic fucking Arts.

Anyone who cares enough about video games, especially Star Wars games, probably already knows why this seems like a horrendous idea. EA is basically the collaborative effort of the most money-hungry, least consumer-concerned blights upon the gaming industry. Voted "Worst Company in America" each of the last two years by consumerist.com and for good reason, EA has established verification codes that go along with their games, disallowing Xbox Live and PSN as well as downloading DLC and even online multiplayer if you didn't buy their games new, as well as creating their own Steam-like service that has been suspected of monitoring users' computer activity. There are also a plethora of  questionable account suspensions and bans including a suspension for posting an Origin troubleshooting link that EA themselves had posted in the past, commenting about teabagging other players after a kill (of course, they are EA forums), and my favorite, posting in a BioWare forum asking "Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?" which they only got mad about because it was clearly an accurate analysis. Have you played Dragon Age II?

Oh, but Origin is far from the worst of their crimes. EA has their ads strewn over every gaming site that just so happens to give their games glowing reviews. They force their developers to push out bare-bones titles frequently and expect us lambs to pay full price every time. Crysis, Battlefield, Army of Two, the crap CoD ripoffs (and you know it's bad when I insult it in comparison to Call of Duty) that are the new Medal of honor games, and the God of War clone, Dante's Inferno. Don't get me started on their sports games. I love sports, and I love sports games, but they've degenerated into nothing but $60 roster updates. It's not worth it. We know it, they know it, but neither will do anything about it.

I haven't even gotten started on their slaughter of some of the only quality developers and franchises lately. They forced Visceral Games to curb the Sci-Fi Survival Horror series Dead Space, and make it a third-person shooter with weak jump scares and imposed a 5 million sale minimum in order to keep the series going (which they really shouldn't anyway at this rate), which of course it failed to meet, partially because a Dead Space game had yet to reach even 4 million, and partially because people knew it'd be a watered-down version of the game they love because EA had their hands in it. It gets worse though. BioWare, yeah, remember them? Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, they were the kings of the Western RPG. They were Squaresoft East, then Electronic Arts bought them. Dragon Age II became a third-person hack n' slasher with no character customization, minimum RPG elements, a claustrophobic "world", ugly environments, and completely copied dungeons. Then the final chapter in this console generation's biggest actual franchise, Mass Effect 3 came, Ashley became a model, the model of a mid-20's "cool guy" was shoe-horned in, and thought the rest of the game was amazing, the ending was farted out in twenty minutes to meet deadlines and ended up being pretty much a nonsensical pile of ass. They destroyed BioWare so wholly, it lead their two founding members, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, as well as their master lead writer, Drew Karpyshyn to willingly bail on the company they gave so much of their lives to, leaving one of the great developers in video game history as a shell of their former selves.

These are the people we expect to handle possibly the most beloved media franchise ever established? FUCKING REALLY, DISNEY?!?! Next thing I know, Michael Bay is going to make Episode VIII and Rihanna is gonna make the soundtrack for it! You're marketing geniuses, you do your research, you know EA creates more bloodlust among gamers than all other entities combined, how could you even consider this a good idea? What are you on? Did Sonic Team invade your ranks?! What the balls is wrong with you people?!

Ok, vitriol-laced rant over, WHAT THE FUCK?!, anyway, let's take a look at how this is going to play out.  There are three developers that have been given creative license with the Star Wars franchise under the Excreting Anuses banner. DICE, famous for making Call of Duty: Youcanblowupbuildingsanddrive Edition (aka Battlefield), and Mirror's Edge I guess?, Visceral who created the above average last-gen James Bond games, the above average Godfather games, the pretty good God of War clone Dante's Inferno, and Dead Space, which was big and innovative, but proved Vesceral is totally fine with letting EA run their ideals into the fucking grave. There's also, of course, BioWare, or what's left of it at least. The dull, rotting husk of RPG perfection long-gone. I'm not excited, even BioWare doesn't provide me with any real solace. Ok, there will probably be an RPG, cool, will it be an RPG in more than name? I guess we'll see. And will they get time to actually create their vision? Ha! I doubt it.

What would I like to see? Well, let me preface by saying I expect nothing positive out of this. I suppose Dice is the obvious candidate if we were to see a Star Wars: Battlefront 3, which I would like to see, IF it's not a third-person shooter, which it would almost definitely be. I think the easiest fit for them is another Republic Commando game, or to a lesser extent, a rebooted TIE FIghter-style game, though again, I wouldn't trust any of these. Visceral are the ones I honestly have the most hope for. They have more experience making more kinds of games than the other two. I can see them pulling off a hacker like Force Unleashed but more refined control-wise, and hopefully longer. I could also see a Bounty Hunter type game, almost like 1313 was supposed to be, but a huge, sprawling mix of a faster Dead Space and Assassin's Creed. BioWare, well I think they're still capable of greatness, but I don't have much faith. I'm honestly expecting a watered-down TOR, and I definitely wouldn't mind a KOTOR 3, but with Karpyshyn done, who wrote a lot of the first game, I don't know, unless they can get help from Obsidian like they have to great results in the past, and there are a lot of other things they can do in the RPG realm, taking Expanded Universe games, or tackling unused periods in Star Wars from a similar or maybe even different angle, but whatever it is, it'll probably be a promise-laden, unfinished mess. Sorry BioWare, I love you, but EA's dragging you down, bro.

In short, I hate this move. There are things about it that you can point to and say "that could be nice", but you can say that for pretty much any company. The point is, EA has a history of horrible business practices, pushing out unfinished games, and imposing strict changes on the creative vision of those actually creating the games. EA isn't just hated to be hated, there's perfect reason for it, and there couldn't have been a worse choice for a company to tie Disney's new, huge franchise to. I hope it turns out well, but I don't see it happening in the slightest. Oh well, I'm gonna go play some KOTOR or Jedi Outcast.

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