Star Wars has made EA cool again
Electronic Arts: the worst company in America.
For two consecutive years, EA was bestowed with that unfortunate honor by Consumerist readers, citing rushed and broken games, petty nickel-and-diming, and lack of customer support. The two famous letters harbored legitimate hate from thousands of gamers who felt mistreated, abused, and scammed.
But although EA had hit a really rough patch with its customers, just one month after winning the worst honor for the second time, EA made what can now be arguably seen as the best customer decision it has ever made: team up with Star Wars.
On May 6th, 2013, EA announced that they had acquired the exclusive rights from The Walt Disney Company to develop and publish new core games based on the Star Wars universe for ten years, spanning consoles, PCs, tablets, mobile, and more.
While some were skeptical at first of the exclusive agreement, they didn't need to wait too long before their doubts were banished, as EA soon announced Star Wars Battlefront, and so far it has been all praise and excitement leading up to its November 17th release date this year.
While Battlefield developer DICE proceeded to be the first ones to utilize EA's Frostbite 3 game engine for Star Wars, Dead Space developer Visceral Games was rumored to be the first ones to create an open world Star Wars game, and they couldn't have made it more clear after they snatched up the brain behind all things Uncharted, Amy Hennig.
On April 3rd, 2014, then-general manager of Visceral Games, Steve Papoutsis, announced that the creative director of the Uncharted series would become the creative director of the latest Star Wars game.
After leaving Uncharted developer Naughty Dog, what made one of the best writers in the business choose to go to a developer owned by one of the worst companies in the business? According to Papoutsis, "I could sense that what really excited her about this opportunity was Star Wars."
Being associated with the worst company in America isn't really at the top of anyone's wishlist, but being associated with Star Wars? That's what millions of people around the world dream about everyday.
No one wants to join a company that makes games no one cares about. People want to be part of something great, something celebrated, something cool, and what's cooler in popular culture than a galaxy far, far away?
Hennig's arrival at EA would only be the start, as just last week on July 13th, it was announced that the co-creator of the Assassin's Creed franchise and former president of Ubisoft Toronto, Jade Raymond, will be starting up a new EA studio called Motive in Montreal, and will oversee Visceral Games in California.
Motive will be a "creative-driven team incubating entirely new IP and developing incredible action experiences". But what's the first thing on the to-do list?
"I’m thrilled that the first big project that we will work on in Montreal will have Amy as Creative Director. An opportunity to work with her and the Visceral team, and to play in the Star Wars universe, is once-in-a-lifetime stuff."
Jade Raymond is a once-in-a-lifetime video gaming professional: she's produced multiple gaming franchises, helped create numerous development groups, and dedicated herself to the advancement of women in the industry.
After leaving Ubisoft last year, there's no doubt that a plethora of opportunities were open to her, and many would have been akin to the work she's done before. But after such a successful twenty years in the industry, what else was there to do? What could be new, fresh, and altogether exciting?
The answer for Raymond was Star Wars, and EA were aptly the only ones that could cross that off the bucket list.
EA's major coup of Star Wars has only led to more major coups, with the revival of a beloved series, the arrival of a prominent writer, and the creation of an all-new studio by a leading executive.
After partnering with Disney, EA has risen from its dreadful status as an evil money-hogging corporation to a creative fan-loving enterprise. Hate has turned into excitement, and staleness has turned into creativity.
EA has become an inviting force for gamers and developers alike thanks to Star Wars, and it looks like it will be that way longer than it's tenure as the worst company in America.
That might only be an assumption, but just two years into the deal, and already Star Wars has made EA cool again.