The Daily Grind: Do you think EA is pivoting into a Star Wars pseudo-MMO?

Yesterday’s surprise revelation that EA was canning Visceral Games and “pivoting” the design of its in-progress Star Wars linear adventure RPG clearly struck a nerve around here, as we received a flood of mail about it (thanks guys!), and not because that game was an MMO but because of how EA justified the closure.

“It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design,” EA VP Patrick Soderlund said. “Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”

If you read between the lines, the “market” has apparently told EA to scrap a single-player RPG in favor of something more persistent, more marketable, and very likely more multiplayer, especially since Soderlund name-dropped Anthem’s engine and then mentioned how Battlefront II “fuels [its] live service” in the franchise.

What do you think? Are we looking at another Star Wars pseudo-MMO in a few more years? And maybe more importantly, do you think EA’s implication that return-worthy – presumably connected, online games – are the only games worth building right now?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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75 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Do you think EA is pivoting into a Star Wars pseudo-MMO?"

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Robert Mann

I think we are looking at SW, PUBG clone. EA is EA, they chase big money and do shady things.

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Nic

Regardless of how much I like Star Wars, I refuse to do give my money to EA for a while now.
The last EA game I bought was SWTOR.

I still have a SWTOR CE Box unopened since the day it arrived from Amazon.

prophetpx
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prophetpx

Have you ever used the code on the SWTOR CE box? If not, would the code still be valid? And, if so, how much money do you want for it? :)

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starbuck1771

Give me Star Wars Galaxies 2.0

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Witches

Probably, EA is all about low quality for high profit, a SPG pretending to be an MMO with a crapton of microtransactions sounds like the right thing for them.

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Vexia

I bet it’s gonna be a battle royale game. :P Seriously, though, I guess I kind of get game industry/market bandwagoning in general, but there’s still a part of me that finds it baffling. Sure, there’s a lot to cash in on with pre-existing trends, but you’ll never be the next WoW, LoL, PUBG, etc. by doing that. Players will definitely tell, in a case like this, how the original game’s vision was sacrificed. Maybe riding the coattails is good enough?

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Eric Campbell

We all have Farmville to blame.

Purewitz
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Purewitz

As much as I’ve been enjoying SWTOR for 6 years now. I started playing during beta in October 2011. With that said though, ever since The Force Awakens came out. I’ve been wanting a Star Wars MMORPG set in-between the 30 year gap of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I know we have gotten books and comic books on that time period already, but most people only watch the movies, watch the TV shows, and play the video games. So by making more video games set in that time period(Especially a MMORPG or Pseudo-MMO like Destiny.) would be more profitable and be seen by more eyeballs than any book or comic book. Although I’m not say they should stop making books and comic books, they should still be there for anyone who wants to delve deeper into lore and history of the galaxy far, far away.

Solaris
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Solaris

I’d be up for a new Star Wars MMO in a heartbeat.

I am sad about the cancellation or redirection of the game Visceral was making. I was really looking forward to it.

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nobleeinherjar

EA canning Visceral is anything but a surprise. That’s exactly what EA does. They cannibalize a studio then shut it down.

SE was wrong about online-only being the future a few years ago when they were trying to chop their games up into little pieces and EA is wrong about it now. If there wasn’t a market for single player games, people wouldn’t be as upset as they are about Visceral closing.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, that market is huge. The amount of people who will buy into a solid single player game is probably higher than that of a multiplayer only game. It just has to be good and not monetized to Washington D.C. and back…

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NeoWolf

My guess would be that they are aiming more for a Destiny or Division’esque kind of set up personally.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

What I am thinking is ‘Star Wars 1313’.

They should have just gone on with this game as it is and made a multiplayer successor based on it. Now its in development hell and if it doesn’t get cancelled, it will come out as some kind of hybrid beast that might not be good as RPG adventure nor as online multiplayer.

On MMO front, what EA and Disney should and could do quickly is to do Battlefront Online (another abandoned EA game carried this name) with a persistent world if possible. ‘Borrow’ from Division, Warframe etc.

Purewitz
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Purewitz

1313 was canceled when Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas. Although Kathy Kennedy has said she likes the story and the story could possibly see the light of day someday. She also said that it could be still made as the intended video game or it could wind up as a book, comic book, movie, or TV show. They just don’t have any plans on using the story or adapting the story right now.

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BDJ

Destiny crossed with skyrim in a SW universe? Gimme pls!

Purewitz
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Purewitz

So you want a Star Wars version of The Elder Scrolls Online? We have that already minus the action combat, it’s called Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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starbuck1771

Wrong it was called Star Wars Galaxies the game that still haunts EA/Bioware because it always comes back to SWG which they can never measure up to because SWTOR is boring after you hit max level the first time and is too restrictive.

Purewitz
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Purewitz

I agree SWG was better at gameplay, endgame, and sandbo freedom than SWTOR has ever been, but SWTOR beats SWG when it comes to storytelling and story delivery. I played SWG from 2004 to 2011. It was my favorite and first MMORPG ever. It torn me apart to find out in 2011 that wasn’t going to be able to play SWG and SWTOR side by side, but I have moved on and refuse to play any of the EMUs. Due to the fact that Disney could shut them all down at anytime and it would be too painful to play SWG again, just to have it taken away again. I wish somehow we could get a Star Wars MMORPG that would have the freedom and gameplay innovation of SWG, but with the innovative storytelling and story delivery of SWTOR. Truth be told, if we do get another Star Wars MMORPG. I hope its set during the Galactic Civil War, The Clone Wars, Post-Return of the Jedi, or during the current sequel trilogy. In other word I want a canon Star Wars MMORPG. I’m so tired of playing a Star Wars MMORPG that isn’t canon, but until that day I will continue to play SWTOR until something better comes along.

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BDJ

Nah. We don’t need another theme park. We don’t need another MMO. A destiny / division type game for small group play would be amazing. The Skyrim comment was just for that type of person open world.

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Rumm

As an MMO fan, I’d be happy to see another SW multiplayer experience, but as a gamer in general, the closure of Visceral and a shift in this project in particular is rather tragic. They had arguably the best game director in North America working with a tried and true development studio on a Star Wars story focused game, something that we haven’t really had since KOTOR II.

I think that the overall shift in their new Star Wars game will be reliant on how well Battlefront II does. If they make a killing on lockboxes alongside the “no paid DLC” approach, I’m positive that it will become, at the least, an EA standard moving forwards, if not the entire industry. Will we start seeing more companies do away with paid expansions in favor of lockboxes, or will they double dip?

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MeltWithYou

The overview…at least as much as I heard was this was basically uncharted meets Star Wars, the bits and pieces I saw made it look awesome, Amy Henning was on the team…I was stoked for this one.

Not anymore…

I’m pretty much done with EA and all of its subsidiaries…not to sound knee jerky, EA has been hard at work fueling my utter disappointment for a long time now.

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Randy Ward

I just have no interest in overused IPs. I’d be happy going the rest of my life without seeing another Star Wars game.

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Eric Campbell

I want to argue, saying there hasn’t been a Star Wars game in a long time. :)

I’ve played SWTOR since the first beta and it’s fine for what it gives me. It’s just not movie Star Wars. All these little mobile battle games and such are not Star Wars games. I do think the IP is overused, and it’s being overused on forgettable games.

I need a story. Linear or not. Star Wars Uncharted? Heck yes. Gimme! Star Wars version of Skyrim? Heck yes. Gimme! Make something memorable. SWG might have turned to crap after NGE, but boy was it memorable.

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Rodney Perry

Yes sir

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John Bagnoli

Oh boy. Those marketing phrases are so evanescent they are practically useless. It’ll surely be a deep experience interwoven into a robust backstory and multifaceted plot cast against unique and fresh ideas pulled from the rich Star Wars universe… nah, just kidding. It will be a PvP mode with lightsabers.

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MeltWithYou

^this plus loot boxes

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Schmidt.Capela

nah, just kidding. It will be a PvP mode with lightsabers.

Which will likely be described as “a deep experience interwoven into a robust backstory and multifaceted plot cast against unique and fresh ideas pulled from the rich Star Wars universe” :-p

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Cindy M

If this is the trend of the future were everything is Overwatch-like with lootboxes jammed in my face, the market is losing me fast. I guess I’ll just to stick to older games, there’s a crap ton I’ve been meaning to play. There’s also indie titles on steam with interesting stories.

The again if the single player is available and the multiplayer is optional only, then I guess it’s fine. :/

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Robert Mann

Just look outside some of the big name studios. There’s plenty of great games out there that are bucking the trend this year. Especially in single player RPGs.

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rafael12104

Hmm. Well… My apologies for the length here but I have been thinking about this alot.

From what I have seen and read, EA as well as other big publishers are really pushing their new, “gaming as a service” idea. In short, they want to continue and expand creating games that are sustainable as profit center beyond just an initial purchase. This will lower development costs significantly as it is cheaper to add or update and existing game rather than create yet another new development effort.

Doesn’t sound bad for fans of a franchise, right? New content, presumably, at a faster rate, addition of features and improvements, etc. etc. Yet, there is another much more insidious reason for this pivot, microtransactions. And yes, at this point, that most definitely includes loot boxes. *See Battle Front 2 among others.

Because thats the other thing that EA’s market analysis has shown them. The boon of “gaming as a service” is the modular monetization of a game. And, what is they best type of game to monetize? An online multiplayer game, of course. Players want to buy cosmetic items to be seen by other players. They want their progress to be seen by to be noted by friends and neighbors. Ah, nothing like an online game and cash shop to do just that.

Sigh… a sign of the times I guess. But, yeah, I’m worried that experiences like single player RPGs may soon be in short supply and or monetized to death. Ironic given that this has been the year of the single player game. And btw, it’s not just EA that is pivoting. Check this out.

prophetpx
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prophetpx

RNG loot boxes are like the societal rot of “pay day loan” edifices in real society, and as such harbingers, the prolonged reliance of such lazy and anti-intellectual, anti-creative “solutions” of such RNG loot boxes by devs as veritable “reward systems” heralds the eventual or imminent doom of MMOs like SWTOR :(

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rafael12104

Well said. Thank you.

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Augusto Gregorio

OMG Visceral is making a SP without Lootboxes? So barbaric, better give the project to another branch.

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Schmidt.Capela

From what I could find, the game is now being made by EA Vancouver with help of other EA studios across the world.

Wasn’t the last non-sports game by EA Vancouver a port of Medal of Honor for the Wii, literally a decade ago?

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Jack Pipsam

I believe EA Canada is their largest studio, so they might be helping out on a bunch of projects in the background but never given any major credit.

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starbuck1771

Unless it is more like SWG it’s just fluffer.

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Jack Pipsam

I hope not. Visceral made great single-player games and I would have loved to see a Star Wars single-player game, something solid, no BS.

But sadly that’s no longer the case as I am sure this new thing will be like Mass Effect multiplayer or whatever. Which is a real shame. EA might end up regretting closing Visceral Games, they were a solid team and it’s shit they’re gone.

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Rolan Storm

Gosh, I hope so. SWTOR became the same thing for Star Wars WoW became for MMORPGs in ’00. One one hand we got pretty good online game. On the other hand it’s kinda outdated and to be honest the further story goes less Star Wars it feels.

So I’d love to see new Star Wars multiplayer game beside Battlefront II.

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starbuck1771

Uh SWG was tons better the SWTOR and WoW didn’t come out til 2004.

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Rolan Storm

I totally agree with you, but you completely miss the point of my comment.

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Armsbend

I’d be very surprised if they don’t have something already in the works. SWOTR has never made a big splash and doing anything else is simply wasting the IP.

If I were in the board room I would not involve Bioware. They don’t seem particularly talented any longer. Common when you get swallowed up by the likes of EA.

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Schmidt.Capela

Last I saw reports about it, politicking inside EA was everywhere and an unspoken requirement to get projects approved. Creative employees are often stifled in such an environment.

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Armsbend

Acti-Blizzard seem to do okay though – creatively wise. Probably due to the autonomy Blizzard negotiated but still. The original Atari Activision was a fairly visionary company maybe it is part of their core philosophy. Except for the evil in today’s other big article so far.

Emmanuel Carabott
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Emmanuel Carabott

If this becomes a trend its really worrying honestly. Story based RPGs becoming a niche ? Multiplayer shooters is all you find. Brrr scared of the future.

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Robert Mann

It’s just the same studios that always chase the new hot item. At least half of AAA does that constantly.

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Serrenity

My first snarky response was, “Oh, so they want to include more lockboxes without as much kerfuffle because multiplayer gamers seem to largely just accept them.” :-p

I’m not sure on the pseudo-MMO front because there was a lot of vague-speak in there. It reeks of “I was sanitized by PR to make an announcement without clearly announcing anything so that we don’t get our feet held to the fire.” So I’m going to take a pass.

As for the ‘Only games worth building now’, I really do think it has a lot to do with monetization schemes and what people will accept with a game. I don’t think it has much (if anything) to do with better gameplay or better games overall. I mean, really … this is EA we are talking about here–its the company that single-handedly destroyed one of the most successful franchises of all time (SimCity) with stupid gameplay decisions designed around ensuring they got money first, and satisfied customers second.

So yeah, I don’t think it has anything to do with player experiences. I think EA is looking to maximize profit (most likely through moar gambling boxes or gambling-style mechanics) than it is about creating better experiences.

There are plenty of wildly successful single-player games out there right now. EA just wants more money with less effort than these games require.

prophetpx
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prophetpx

the swift demise of EA’s SimCity 5 (2013) despite all of it’s prolonged teasing in what seemed to be glorious trailers before the release, has now been a huge lark. EA should have saw the writing on the wall with that big kerfluffle but instead they just kept on plodding along… I really wonder about EA board members’ sanity.

Dantos
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Dantos

Maybe, but they still own bioware, who are developing Anthem, which already seems like it might be a destiny-like game. So im hesitant to believe that they would make a Star Wars one as well, since it might be a situation of competing with itself. But hey maybe they’ll change anthem into a star wars game?

Its a strange situation, since they are juggling a couple different star wars multiplayer properties already with TOR and the Battlefront series, im trying to figure out where something new would fit in, that wouldnt compete with Anthem, or those 2.

They definitely want it as some kind of platform where they can sell DLC and MTs, not sure what form thats going to take.

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Sray

No. It’s basically going to be the same as the multiplayer in games like Uncharted or Tomb Raider: a PVP multiplayer mode duct taped onto the side of a game people are only interested in for the single player aspect so they can sell lootboxes.

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Rolan Storm

Most probable.

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Pandalulz

I’m going to reluctantly believe that what we lost was another Force Unleashed game that I didn’t really have any interest in (linear) and hope for the best that what comes about instead is somehow better than that. I won’t hold my breath though.

OneEyeRed
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OneEyeRed

Interestingly enough, I received a survey from EA yesterday asking me specific questions as to my thoughts about the company, its services, do I trust them to give quality products, etc… I assume it was related to the cancelling of my pre-order of BF2. I think they asked the wrong guy for a honest opinion. I may have blown their server up :)

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

Star Wars skinned PUBG clone?

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Archebius

If it weren’t EA making this decision, I’d be pleased. Single-player games are still successful in the market – there are quite a few studios that support themselves off of those alone – but some genres work better when you can share them with friends, and Star Wars could fit that bill. A properly done co-op experience in the Star Wars universe? Exploring planets? Piloting freighters? Chasing down bounties? I would buy that in a heartbeat.

But it is EA making this decision, and EA is just coming off being burned by Andromeda, and I think they learned the wrong lesson. They didn’t realize, hey, this game isn’t what veterans of the series were expecting, we hurried it out the door, if we took our time we could build something awesome. Instead they decided to sweep Andromeda, and probably other big RPG projects, under the rug and forget about them.

I worry the lesson they came away with was, throw some lipstick on that pig, give it a cheap progression system and some lockboxes, call it a day. It’s Star Wars so it’ll sell, if we can make a percentage of the playerbase stick it’ll be profitable for a long time, and then at the end of the day we can just churn out a Star Wars Co-op 2 that fixes our glaring mistakes and people will buy it all over again.

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BalsBigBrother

I think there is a place for single player rpg games. I just finish downloading one that has just released (Elex) and I look forward to losing myself in it for several weeks. Often I feel dev teams shoehorn some sort of multiplayer into a game just so they can then justify micro transactions of some sort *looking right at you Shadows of War*

As for the whole Star Wars thing honestly I am finding it really hard to care about that franchise anymore both it terms of games and films. I queued in the rain for Star Wars (episode 4) when it first released in 1977 but I couldn’t even be bothered to watch the new ones via stream in my house let alone go to the cinema.

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Robert Mann

Tell you what, expect some challenge and minimal hand-holding (outside quest markers.) It’s fun, even if a few things are a little rough. It’s also full of places that turning the wrong way is basically death.

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Apollymi

I have de-lurked just to hit that thumbs up button. Right now, I’m done with MMOs. I’ve un-subbed EQ and WoW and when my yearly sub is up with SWTOR next month, that’s it. I have a whole list of single player RPGs I’m getting info on and will be working though.

And yeah. I’m not sure about the rain in ’77 but I certainly stood in the lines, several times, to watch Star Wars. I’m just disgusted with what I’m seeing now.

Anyway, thanks for name dropping a game I’ve never heard before (Elex). Will certainly check that out.

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Schmidt.Capela

I liked Star Wars because of the extended universe; a huge collection of hundreds of books, comics, games, series, etc, all in the same universe, and that for the most part meshed together.

When Disney decided to make the extended universe non-canon it kinda killed my interest in the franchise. I mean, first it would have to win my interest again, and I find the new material Disney is publishing not up to that task.

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Stropp

Elex does look interesting. I’ll have to wait until it becomes a bit cheaper, but it’s on my wishlist.

These days if I want story in my games, I look to Single Player RPGs (never really been into adventure games.) MMOs scratch a different itch, one I can’t exactly define anymore.

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BalsBigBrother

Well my first impression is you certainly know its a game developed by Piranha Bytes with all that entails for good and bad. I promised a mini review in the next wrup and I intend to do that but initial impression tl:dr rough diamond*.

*opinion subject to change on further playing ;-)

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thirtymil

Thanks – will look forward to the WRUP. I was tempted by this one but the lack of character customisation (i.e. you can only be the bald-headed dude) is currently stopping me.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, they haven’t done a game with a character creator yet. Less animation costs, but sad at the same time.

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Pandalulz

The funny part is that the thing that keeps me excited about Star Wars is the cartoons. Clone Wars and Rebels did more to keep my interest piqued than any of the movies, sadly. Especially now that Disney has shown that they are more interested in milking the cow of the current characters (do we need Solo and Kenobi prequels, really?) than making new and interesting additions to the universe, like KotoR or EU type stuff.

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Apollymi

I just (last month) got Kotor on Steam. Never did before because I was an MMO snob. lol I can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years.

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Paragon Lost

One of my fondest memories is waiting in line to see Star Wars back in 1977, it was very hot in Southern California and the theatre had personal walking up and down the line handing out water or sodas to whoever wanted one for free. I don’t think theatre’s do that anymore, though I could be wrong.

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BalsBigBrother

Summer geez I wish, Now that I think about it I was wrong above when I said queued in 77 in the rain I queued in 1978.

The UK was treated to a late December 1977 London premier which meant the general release for us plebs was a very cold and rainy January 1978. No the cinema didn’t come around with hot drinks and umbrellas.

I don’t envy anyone who watched the next showing because the first showing was full of wet and soggy people. Who then proceeded to sit in a warm space for an hour and half or so slowing drying out on the seats while we watched the film hehe :-)

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Paragon Lost

Ugh, I think I’ll have taken the sunshine and heat while waiting for the movie versus what you had to deal with. Lived in Europe for almost a decade and that wet cold can really get into your bones.

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CMDR Crow

I’d put my money on a Battlefront-like game focused on co-op with plenty of tie-ins via microtransaction for skins and such. Basically, Destiny-light. That said, they’re likely not looking to cannibalize from TOR, so I’d lean toward less RPG and more just instant-action co-op.

To be honest, that sounds awesome if done well. But it is EA, so even if the core game is good it will be ruined by the business model. *Shrug* At least they turned the official servers on for Battlefront II (“Classic”) so I’m pretty set on Star Wars fun. Playing Starfighters with a HOTAS is quite enjoyable. Especially when it is so arcade-y and simple. Hm, the one thing that would get me deep into a new Star Wars game would be some kind of deeper starfighter element. A man can dream, eh?

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Wolfyseyes

I’m not sure who gave Soderlund his data, but there appears to be (from, admittedly, observations only with not a lot of hard data to back it up at hand) a whole lot of single-player games out already and down the pipe. I honestly feel like Star Wars has always excelled when it’s a singularly driven narrative, not something that tries to enfold many people into a giant story. Unless the many people are part of a sweeping sci-fantasy battle shot, naturally.

That said, what happens next to Visceral’s Star Wars game now is hard to say, but I’m also one of the few that’s fine with a pseudo-MMO provided it’s interesting and its monetization scheme isn’t complete trash. Considering how SWTOR is running things, though, I’m not holding my breath.

Tizmah
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Tizmah

You know what EA is great at? Disappointment.

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Simon F

Without doubt, they want something more like Destiny. The problem is, they are idiots for wanting to do that. I’m not really opposed to co-op, but I feel like a Star Wars game should be about you, the player. You’re the protagonist, not 1 million other players as well. Suddenly throwing people into it breaks that immersion. Destiny isn’t really like that which is why it works.

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Terren Bruce

That would only compete with Anthem which is also an EA game.

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Simon F

That too, which is just stupid.

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Aricin

Lock boxes & Micro transactions. Cant infest a “single player story driven game” with that crap as easily as something something (dark side) online …

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CMDR Crow

At least they aren’t Activision, who were recently granted a patent for a matchmaking algorithm that is designed to encourage microtransactions by matching you with people who would “showcase” buyable items that would improve your performance… because you always get matched with people who are better and/or more pay-to-win than you are to “encourage” you to buy power.

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