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Did anyone else feel that great disturbance in the Force last night? Yeah that was probably when news of this licensing deal broke: Electronic Arts has just acquired exclusive rights from The Walt Disney Company to develop and publish Star Wars games for “a core gaming audience”.

Johan Pleasants, the co-president of Disney Interactive said that the deal “demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come,” and that this will allow the company “to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to our fans around the world.”

EA already knows who they’re assigning Star Wars development duties to: DICE (the guys behind Battlefield), Visceral Games (Dead Space, Dante’s Inferno) and BioWare (Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and tons of other incredible games) will all be making games set in a galaxy far, far away.

According to EA Labels president Frank Gibeau, the new games “may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay.” The brief press release made no mention of reviving in-development titles such as Star Wars 1313, but EA has not shied away from picking up floundering titles in the past (see Tim Schafer’s Brütal Legend).

While many, many people’s reactions will probably be something like this, there is a hell of a lot of potential for incredible things to come out of this. For a start, the gritty tone and presentation of the now lost Star Wars 1313 fits with Visceral’s previous game templates rather well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the game revived and development continued by the Dead Space crew.

Secondly, if you cast your minds back to when Disney first bought LucasEverything last year, they said in a statement that they were “likely to focus more on social and mobile [game development] than… console”. They also said, in that same statement, that any further console games (read: games for core players) would likely be done through “licensing rather than publishing”. That’s exactly what’s happening here.

Thirdly, EA has had experience with the Star Wars IP before. They have a smorgasbord of developers under their banner that have all had tons of development experience with the Star Wars franchise.

Look, I have always been on EA’s side while many people berate them for every move they make, and I am without a doubt a super-giant-massive Star Wars nerd. Perhaps those two qualifiers skew my initial reactions to this, but if you stop and think about it, there’s potential here. A hell of a lot more so than if Disney had decided to just sit on the Star Wars gaming IP and churn out social and mobile titles. I am cautiously optimistic.

Source: EA Press Room