Disney closed LucasArts in 2013, six months after it acquired parent company Lucasfilm for $4 billion, and then established an exclusive licensing deal for Star Wars games with Electronic arts a month later. But it hasn't been the smoothest ride since: Heavily-hyped games have been cancelled, high-profile hires have moved on to other things, an EA rep made the most unpopular comment in the entire history of Reddit, and of course there was that whole business with loot boxes.
It's enough to make you wonder why Disney doesn't just pull the plug on the whole thing, and in fact a petition to revoke EA's Star Wars license attracted more than 215,000 signatures, something we had a bit of fun with at the end of 2017.
But it seems that despite all the upset, Disney is actually pretty happy with the state of things and doesn't plan on changing them up anytime soon. In a recent earnings call reported by Variety, CEO Bob Iger said that Disney is good at a lot of things, like "making movies and television shows and theme parks and cruise ships," but hasn't quite been able to figure out how to successfully publish videogames.
"Over the years, as you know, we’ve tried our hand at self-publishing, we’ve bought companies, we’ve sold companies, we’ve bought developers, we’ve closed developers," Iger said. "And we’ve found over the years that we haven’t been particularly good at the self-publishing side, but we’ve been great at the licensing side which obviously doesn’t require that much allocation of capital."
"Since we’re allocating capital in other directions ... we’ve just decided that the best place for us to be in that space is licensing and not publishing. We’ve had good relationships with some of those we’re licensing to, notably EA and the relationship on the Star Wars properties, and we’re probably going to stay on that side of the business and put our capital elsewhere."
It may not be the most ringing endorsement ever—"It's cheaper and easier than doing it ourselves" is pragmatic but not exactly heartfelt—but at a little over the halfway point of the deal, Disney clearly isn't panicking about the mistreatment of its property. And there's a chance that Star Wars videogame situation will soon be happier: Electronic Arts confirmed in its own recent earnings call that the Respawn-developed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be out in the fall.