Even though it’s one of the most recognizable and popular franchises in the world, Star Wars simply can’t catch a break when it comes to the world of video games. After starting out strong in the mid 1990s, the Star Wars franchise has slowly declined in recent years through a derth of interesting releases. Now there's another disturbance in the Force which could result in yet another Star Wars being cancelled.
Kotaku is reporting that production on Star Wars: 1313 has reached a standstill of sorts. Reportedly disclosed from inside sources, development on the new Star Wars action-adventure title has said to been put on pause post Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm last November. While the action oriented nature of 1313 had the makings to be a mega-hit, in part because of its more casual shoot-em appeal with snazzy visuals, Disney is nonetheless reassessing things due to what sometimes plagues games based on major franchises: transmedia synergy.
As per Kotaku’s sources, Star Wars 1313 wasn’t something LucasArts put together recently since the game has been in development since 2009, during which the game had the subtitle Underworld. While the game has maintained the same theme/goal of showing a “darker” side of the Star Wars universe through the criminal underbelly of Coruscant, mirroring that of the now dormant live-action Star Wars TV series, the actual gameplay of the title included elements that went beyond Uncharted style action – in particular the game once was an open-world/sandbox title built around DLC episodes.
Before you all do a Force crush of doom on your computer out of anger, the bad news doesn’t stop there. Despite Star Wars creator George Lucas appearing to be a bit off base as far as what fans wanted out of the franchise for the last few years, 1313 reportedly had his full blessing; thus the team at LucasArts continued development on the project. With the dev team taking Lucas’ suggestions to heart, such as adding Boba Fett and other elements of the existing mythos into the equation, things were still going smoothly in 1313 even though the game still didn’t have a locked story/plot when it was unveiled at E3 2012.
Debut footage for Star Wars 1313 from E3 2012
The expansion/side-story narrative of Star Wars 1313 is ultimately what could have put the game in a quandary as of now. As per Kotaku’s sources, Disney has opted to put the game on hold since they’re currently focused on the new wave of Star Wars movies – all of which don’t have any ties to what 1313 was attempting to establish. Given Disney’s desire to push Star Wars as much as they can, word has it that the company isn’t that entirely keen in things that aren’t related to the new films that will come out; either because of potential confusion amongst consumers/film-goers or because they merely want everything to be cohesive more or less.
With the first new Star Wars film reportedly set to arrive in 2015 or 2016 at the latest, the status of Star Wars 1313 is up in the air right now. It’s possible that Disney will merely bite the bullet and release the game anyway, but its best we don’t forget that this is the same company that has shuttered all of their core centric development studios – save for Avalanche Software who is developing the multi-platform casual focused title that is Disney Infinity. So given the lack of info shared about the title, it could be possible that Disney will merely shelve the game permanently since it doesn’t fit the current directive of LucasArts.
Star Wars 1313 may not be the only game to be on the chopping block as Kotaku’s sources also make note of other projects LucasArts was developing prior to joining the house of Mickey. Besides a Star Wars title borrowing elements of Farmville (insert groans here), LucasArts were also reportedly making a Call of Duty style game codenamed Trigger.
It’s unknown what sort of elements Trigger was striving for, at least within the existing Star Wars cannon, nor is it known if the game could possibly be Star Wars: First Assault. Still unannounced, First Assault was leaked via a trademark registration and then later through a XBLA listing in the form of cover art, which now has been suspiciously taken down.
Due to the lack of announcements other than LucasArts putting up the usual PR face when asked about the status of projects, Star Wars fans better strap in for disappointment once E3 rolls around this year. While I don’t like to be a negative nancy all the time or assume that doom is always upon us, Disney haven’t exactly inspired confidence amongst gamers this generation when it comes to doing core console games.
Even though Star Wars 1313 likely would’ve been a money printing machine, both for the current and next-gen consoles, Disney is nonetheless only focused on doing smaller casual titles, at least internally, and games that will only help rake in the money once Star Wars Episode VII hits theaters.
After seeing how LucasArts managed, or at least mismanaged Star Wars Battlefront 3, and ran The Force Unleashed II into the ground, it’s disappointing to see that things will remain business as usual under the guise of Disney. We could see future Star Wars games farmed out to outside developers, but even then I wouldn’t be too hopeful about the quality unless the company logic and focus actually turns around for the better.