Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Star Wars: Battlefront 3 AND 4 Not Going To Happen

By: Dave Bouressa

You hear that LucasArts is working on a brand new Star Wars game. You know it’s not going to be Battlefront, but you still can’t help but get your hopes up. Several more rumors appear on the internet that show promise to it finally being revealed. You get closer and closer to the announcement date, and more rumors are flooding the web. You tune in to watch, and...nothing. Once again your heart is broken.

That is how fans of the Star Wars: Battlefront video game have felt for about seven years. Every single time a new game is announced to be in production, the fans cling on to their fandom in hopes that the newest sequel will be released, and it always turns out to be something else, whether it is The Force Unleashed 2, The Old Republic, Clone Wars Adventures, etc.

Well, unfortunately, news has surfaced that will put any rumors to rest. As fans of the series know, the game has been in “video game limbo”, switching from company to company, until finally ending up at Free Radical. However, Free Radical Designs co-founder, Steve Ellis, has confirmed that the studio was forced to cancel not one, but TWO games in the series. That’s right. Battlefront 4 killed before 3 even had a chance to see the light of day. According to Ellis, BF 3 was very near completion and the team had decided to begin work on BF 4. And for anyone who has seen the leaked test footage for Battlefront 3 knows how close to completion it was.

Alpha Test Footage (filmed in November 2008)

Pre-Alpha Test Footage (Released April 3, 2012)

Many more videos of test footage can be found here.

According to Ellis, the relationship between Free Radical and LucasArts was a very good one.
“They were big fans of our work, they liked our take on making games, they liked the way we work and they wanted to do this project. It was a big thing, we were very excited and for a long time it was going very well…We were still at that time probably a year out from completing and releasing the first game and they asked us to sign up for the sequel. That was a big deal for us because it meant putting all our eggs in one basket. It was a critical decision- do we want to bet on LucasArts? And we chose to because things were going as well as they ever had. It was a project that looked like it would probably be the most successful thing we had ever done and they were asking us to make the sequel to it too. It seemed like a no-brainer”.

However, the economy has not been merciful to many, and to our misfortune, LucasArts was not untouched. Due to lay-offs, budget restraints, and new management, things took a turn for the worst regarding the Battlefront franchise.

“The really good relationship that we’d always had suddenly didn’t exist anymore. They brought in new people to replace them and all of a sudden we were failing milestones. That’s not to say there were no problems with the work we were doing because on a project that size inevitably there will be, there’s always going to be grey areas were things can either pass or fail. And all of a sudden we were failing milestones, payments were being delayed and that kind of thing.

“It was a change of direction for LucasArts as a company rather than for the games that we were working on. I think what had happened was the new management had been bought in to replace the old and given an impossible mandate. It was a financial decision basically and the only way they could achieve what they had been told to do was to can some games and get rid of a bunch of staff.
“It was pretty much done, it was final QA. It had been in final QA for half of 2008 it was just being fixed for release…LucasArts’ opinion is that when you launch a game, you have to spend big on the marketing and they’re right. But at that time they were, for whatever reason, unable to commit to spending big. They effectively canned a game that was finished”

Of course, Battlefront was not the only series to be put on the chopping block during this hard time. The Force Unleashed 3 (which had been in production since before TFU2 was released) was also another game to get the axe.

Anyone who knows anything about Lucasfilm, LucasArts, or any other branched off company, they do, in fact, go all out with their marketing. Look at the trailers for The Force Unleashed 2, and even more impressively, The Old Republic. Those “trailers” are more like mini-movies. And look at Lucasfilm Animation, the marketing they do for The Clone Wars series is staggering. And given all the marketing revolving around the re-release of The Phantom Menace in 3D, the statement of LucasArts going all out for marketing is not a surprise at all. But what is surprising is that they essentially killed off a game that many people have wanted for many years, simply because they could not afford to market it. Given the amount of money it took to make the game, one would assume that just killing it off at this point is an even bigger shot to the foot than poor marketing. The people who would have bought this game anyway, do not need superb marketing spoon-fed to them, they’re already hungry for the game.

The only thing a massive marketing campaign would have done is grab up the few stragglers who wouldn’t have normally bought the game unless it is thrown at them in commercials every 10 minutes. This group tends to not be a major gaming demographic and consist of more children and “casual” gamers, which seems to be what LucasArts is going after.

Ironic that LucasArts claims that they could not afford marketing the game, yet the group they are marketing towards consists of the minority of people who would be buying and playing the game-AND the hardest group to sell to.

Look at the big-name games released by LucasArts in the past few years since Battlefront 2’s release date in 2005:

Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005) Xbox and PC
Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Lightsaber Duels (2008) Wii
Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Jedi Alliance (2008) Nintendo DS
Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Republic Heroes (2009) All platforms
Clone Wars Adventures (2010) (PC, Mac)
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron (2007) PSP
Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron (2009) PSP and Nintendo DS
Lego Star Wars (2005) All platforms
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006) All platforms
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007) All platforms
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (2011) All platforms
Star Wars Empire At War (2006)
The Force Unleashed (2008) All Platforms
The Force Unleahsed II (2010) All Platforms
Kinect Star Wars (2012) Xbox360-Kinect
(Note: The Old Republic was Bioware-Not LucasArts)

As you can see, the majority of games that have come out of LucasArts since 2005 are either aimed towards an “all ages” group/ younger audience, or the handheld gaming crowd (which is the minority of gamers), with the only exceptions of this being “Republic Commando” (which came out 7 years ago), “Empire At War” (Which came out 6 years ago) and “The Force Unleashed” (Which has been soured in the eyes of fans due to many poor reviews of the second installment of the series, despite the success of the first).

As of now, no future games have been announced, but that will not stop fans from getting their Star Wars thrills. Many fans have found ways around their Battlefront 3 urges by playing Star Wars themed mods of other games, such as this mod for Call of Duty 4 entitled “Galactic Warfare”.

Now, before you completely give up hope of any new Star Wars games in the near future to keep you thrilled, keep in mind that although the Battlefront series may be down and out, LucasArts has yet to comment on the rumors of Republic Commando 2…


Kaisar hasan said...

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