Hello everyone, I am sorry that I had to take a brief hiatus as the holidays have come and gone. My computer has been kinda busted and then on top of that I am in the middle of some pretty hectic wedding planning, which all together creates that trifecta of attention. Now that I got a moment to breathe I would like to talk about one of the biggest fan-based (and corporate based) flops of the holiday: [Star Wars: Battlefront](tag:2684021).
Now before I get into it, I reviewed some things about the game and found myself at an impasse. I wanted to like Battlefront for all that it offered: the music, the graphics, and the fact that it's Star Wars. But after a while the nostalgia wore off, I was sitting there dissecting the game for what it actually is: a mediocre game, at best.
We can compare this title to the older titles that came out over ten years ago. The fact is that a lot of content is missing from this iteration. Maps aren't as vast, only focus on the original trilogy, and the lack of space battles was a huge complaint. To top it all off, seeing lost footage of the "99%" complete Battlefront 3; where pilots got into a starship on the ground and flew into space, made people mad because that never got released to the public. We also don't have classes either, making characters a hodge-podge of abilities that took forever to unlock. Okay, so there was a lot missing...
So the question remains: why did we get this Battlefront? How did this happen? Why couldn't DICE just make an HD version of Battlefront 2? Well, let's dive in.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 was released on October 13th, 2005 in the US. This was just barely a year since the first game (Battlefront) hit store shelves in 2004. Both games were developed by Pandemic Studios, and published by LucasArts. Notice how we don't see these names anymore? It's because both of those companies were shut down.
Pandemic Studios went defunct in 2009, closings it's doors and sending more than 1,500 employees out the door. Some of those employees stuck around EA, while others went to work for Infinity Ward, and 343 Industries. Only 35 employees stuck with EA in their Lost Angeles studio.
LucasArts was shut down in 2013, once Disney acquired the Lucasfilm company in 2012. Since then, Lucasfilm is open in order to keep licensing; and all game related licenses have been handed to EA Games. Due to this, other games were put on indefinite hold. Titles like Star Wars: 1313 was cancelled along with a Darth Maul centered game recently unearthed by Game Informer.
So this left EA giving the Battlefront franchise over to DICE, who are famously known for developing Battlefield, Mirrors Edge, and more Battlefield. So handing the game to them should be no issue. We should have all of the amazing things that Battlefield 3, or 4 left us with, right? Well that's where the issue comes in.
I will introduce another old familiar name: Free Radical Design. They were a British based company that created one of the highest rated first person shooters for PS2: Time Splitters. They eventually got bought out and changed their name to Crytek UK; a subsidiary of the German company Crytek, known for the graphically intense game Crysis.
The acquisition of Free Radical didn't come until 2009, placing Star Wars Battlefront 3 and the company itself into administration. This meant that the company undergo some changes in order to re-stabilize itself in the current economy. From 2006 to 2008, Free Radical worked on Battlefront 3. Even some art and a video was leaked to the internet years ago. Although, due to some internal affairs, Crytek UK was put on halt (not closed) in 2014, and members were put to work in other studios; leaving Battlefront 3 in development hell.
Now I know what you're going to say here, "Why can't EA at least use that technology in Battlefront knowing that it was going to be a popular concept?" We might never know exactly why, but a lot of people suggest that space battles would be added on as downloadable content. But that wouldn't explain why the entire game was so drastically different. If we look at the timeline I established above, if Battlefront came out in 2015, Free Radical closing in 2014, and Disney handing the licensing over also in 2014, it might be due to a possible law suit.
I am going to branch off here and talk very briefly about something called copyright and intellectual property. Now, in the US, you can copyright the expression, but not the idea. Tons of people try to copyright tons of stuff, but sometimes it infringes and there could be problems. Copyrights generally last for either 95 - 120 years, or 70 years past the death of the creator (if solely responsible). Knowing this, if Free Radical changing it's name to Crytek UK, and not officially being closed means that Crytek could have a law suit against EA Games and DICE for using technology that could have been under the copyright laws.
This is a possibility, not a definite. The truth is that we will never actually know why certain things were cut out of the game. Copyright laws are a deep area of the law that has a huge gray area. There is a thin line between what becomes a standard and what is accurately infringement. The thing that is most important though, is companies not wanting to stay in the spotlight, and have to go to court and possibly have the halt of a video game on their hands.
I hope you took this information in as easy as it was for me to look for it. Games are not easy to develop, and when you have to deal with things like lawyers and general bureaucracy, it's harder to get some things done, and sometimes you need to release a generic piece of crap just to make a dollar.
Thank you for reading.