Never Mind Theatrical, Star Wars Desperately Needs to Figure Out Their Gaming Division
Streaming shows can help with a long theatrical break, but consistent gaming delays are killer.
After a surprisingly lackluster gaming presence at Star Wars Celebration (the only game that had a dedicated panel was Star Wars Hunters), I wrote that Star Wars gaming needs a strong second gaming franchise and that the weight could not be solely placed on Jedi: Fallen Order.
One of the bright spots was the remake of Knights of the Old Republic announced at the PlayStation Showcase in 2021. While KotOR is considered one of the best Star Wars games, the news of a remake with updated graphics and gameplay mechanics was exciting for two main reasons:
- It put Knights of the Old Republic back in the spotlight and got older fans excited while piquing younger gamers interests (the news trended most of the day).
- It was one of the few things uniting canon and legends fans and put KotOR and its characters one step closer to being canonized.
While the first reason is important for the longevity of Star Wars as it enters its sixth decade as a franchise, the second is important for the importance of the gaming division to the franchise as a whole. Lucasfilm has stated that they see gaming as another source of canon material.
Star Wars: Battlefront II story mode had a companion canon book, Battlefront: Inferno Squad that acted as a prequel to the events of the game, featuring Iden Versio and her team of Imperial special ops. Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order introduced Cal Kestis, Cere Junda, Merrin, and Trilla to canon. Most of these characters have shown up in other media.
Cal Kestis was so popular that his lightsaber won a poll as the next legacy lightsaber to be made for purchase at Galaxy’s Edge, beating out other popular characters like Qui-on Jinn, Kanan Jarrus, Anakin Skywalker, Ezra Bridger, and Lord Corvax (from another game, Vader Immortal). A live-action appearance from Cal Kestis is almost inevitable at this point but there will be a sequel coming that was teased at Celebration, Jedi: Survivor.
But, like the theatrical side, gaming has struggled to make things outside of the Jedi: Fallen Order franchise (yes, it is popular enough to label it as a franchise within a franchise) stick.
And now, here we are: Shortly after the mobile game Star Wars Hunters announced its second delayed release, news broke from Bloomberg of all places that the Aspyr remake Knights of the Old Republic has been delayed indefinitely. Unfortunately, some other key details have been revealed that make this news even more depressing for KotOR fans:
On June 30, Aspyr finalized a demo of the game, known as a vertical slice, to show to production partners Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC and Sony Group Corp. The developers were excited about it and felt like they were on track, according to a person familiar with the project, so they were shocked by what happened next.
The following week, the company fired design director Brad Prince and art director Jason Minor. Neither responded to requests for comment, but Minor suggested on a social media page that his dismissal was unexpected.
Jason Schreier, Bloomberg.com
Per reports of meeting attendees, the vertical slice wasn’t where the studio heads wanted it to be given that the game has been in development for three years. The game was originally schedule for release at the end of 2022. Now developers say a more realistic time frame is 2025.
One of two things are likely to happen: A new developer will take over and the game will still not make a 2025 release date, or the delayed indefinitely stays indefinite.
Let us also not forget that Star Wars Eclipse has a lot of controversy surrounding its developer, Quantic Dream and the problems finding staff to work on the game. The High Republic is another Star Wars era that is being pushed more to the forefront with the upcoming series The Acolyte taking place during the tail end of the era. The fate of that game is more up in the air than Knights of the Old Republic. And then there is the open world Star Wars game that Ubisoft is working on but we likely won’t hear any news on that until next year.
I am hopeful that Lucasfilm Games will find a way to get this remake done as Knights of the Old Republic can be that second gaming franchise within the Star Wars franchise they need that is also a well of canon lore to tap for other mediums. If we can get a novel out of Star Wars Hunters, a Zynga mobile game, think of what we can get out of KotOR. It is almost too big to fail.
But yeah, this news hurts. It hurts as a gaming fan and it hurts the brand and continues the narrative of a messy gaming division that still has a lot to figure out.
One more LEGO pic for the road.