EA has seen better days, and 2017 was not kind on the public relations side. But they still made a boatload of money. 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront sold over 14 million copies but lacked content and map variety at launch. Battlefront 2, on the other hand, offered tons of maps from various timelines, a single player campaign, space battles, and a great variety of popular characters. The game underperformed due to a controversy of loot box implementations that leaned heavily on pay-to-win models.
EA also shuttered Visceral Games, which was in charge of making an Uncharted-style Star Wars game, claiming that the game’s direction wasn’t in line with the company’s vision of making games as a service. This, of course, spurred the anger of the internet for two reasons. One being that Visceral Games is an acclaimed studio that created the Dead Space franchise. The other being that EA is no longer interested in making a single player Star Wars games that people only play once.
So what could a game as a service set in the Star Wars universe entail? I wanted to throw out some ideas for a potential Destiny-style Star Wars game. This is just a fun speculation article about what I would like to see in their next Star Wars game and not about pure hate for EA. So with that said, let’s get down to it!
Some of the best video games have stellar titles and are able to gain mindshare of customers. There have been Star Wars games since the late ’80s on various platforms and in different settings. Some of the best titles have already been taken and are synonymous with gaming history. Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and so on.
The next Star Wars game needs a name that can evolve and change over time. EA is trying to create a game that people will come back to time and time again. The closest analogs to a Star Wars game as a ‘live service’ are Star Wars: Galaxies and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Both of those games are MMORPGs but carry names that leave them vague enough to play in. EA’s next Star Wars game needs to have a good name that doesn’t chain it to a specific genre like Republic Commando and Battlefront.
Star Wars Legacy, Star Wars Universe and Star Wars Centuries are a few that I came up with. This is assuming that the game will be cross-generational with inclusions of the prequels, the original trilogy, and new films. If the game only takes place in the current films then you could make a series of games with a colon in the title. Star Wars: Rise of the First Order, Star Wars: Rebellion Under Siege, etc. This could be the key to developing a Star Wars game for several years. Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, and even Destiny will release various substantial updates to the world through expansions. The name is important when considering that EA will want to carve a space for both its new Star Wars game and Anthem in a crowded marketplace.
What could this new Star Wars game be modeled after? Destiny, The Division, Fortnite, Overwatch, PUBG, and Warframe are popular ‘games as a service’ games that revolve around shooting. It seems unlikely that EA would make another shooter when considering Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Respawn’s untitled Star Wars game.
I think a third-person shooter/action game would work best because they are easy enough for people to understand. If EA is serious about making a Star Wars game as a live service, they will need to address the gameplay and the hooks that keep the player coming back for more. Almost everything at the moment revolves around some kind of loot mechanic or cosmetic items. I don’t think a loot-based game would work, because that would require a constant back and forth between EA and Lucasfilm of approving what items can or can’t be used. Cosmetics, on the other hand, could be a more unrestricted avenue to explore, as long as the gameplay isn’t hampered because of it.
I did like the idea of unlocking heroes from various sources of Star Wars canon in the same vein of Warframe. Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, EA’s mobile game, allows players to collect various heroes that fight alongside each other. EA could gain inspiration from Warframe by creating a great gameplay loop, but offer different heroes with different powers, abilities, or tech. Imagine collecting a slew of heroes, both big and small, that you can control or play as.
I think Agents of Mayhem was a great concept for a game, but lacked sufficient development to fully flesh it out. The game created a single-player hero shooter and a sandbox world to play in. The player can create a three hero roster before each mission or before they explore the open world.
My suggestion would be to develop this mechanic further by balancing for multiplayer and designing Star Wars characters with assigned roles. You could have a raid-style mission with various players who fulfill needed roles without having too much complexity. Games like Evolve and Battleborn didn’t last because they required a huge learning curve and reliance on everyone knowing what to do. Overwatch is much simpler, but offers a myriad of depth because of the different skills required to play each hero.
I’m interested to find out how EA’s Star Wars game will keep player retention. Several games offer huge updates for free or in the form of paid expansions to keep players engaged, while selling extra cosmetic items through direct micro-transactions or with loot boxes.
We are seeing great strides in the video game industry toward creating an engaged community. AAA games need to sell millions of copies and create months of content to generate digital revenue. Ubisoft is currently leading the charge with multiple games with growing numbers of players after the initial launch. Rainbow Six Siege, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, The Division, For Honor and even Assassin’s Creed Origins have great communities built around them. EA will need to offer a good monetization plan alongside a great game with several hooks.
Those are a couple of ideas I wanted to throw out there, but I am not a game developer. Who knows if my lofty ideas are even possible. What would you like to see in EA’s Star Wars as a live service game? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.