Here’s a great idea: Make a Star Wars game without the permission of Disney and Lucasfilm. That’ll work, right?
Turns out, that’s not the case, as Frontwire Studios recently learned. The erstwhile developers of Star Wars: Galaxy in Turmoil, meant to be a substitute for the unreleased Battlefront 3, received a cease-and-desist letter from Lucasfilm back in June. Today the hammer came down. In a post on the Frontwire website, President Tony Romanelli states that his company will no longer be able to produce Galaxy in Turmoil as a Star Wars-inspired game.
Despite maintaining that Galaxy in Turmoil qualifies under the aegis of fair use, Romanelli is quite cordial in the letter, praising LucasFilm’s patience in the matter and its representatives’ willingness to talk to him. In the end, though, Lucasfilm has an exclusive agreement in place with Electronic Arts to produce Star Wars-based video games, and that trumped all else.
It’s hard to paint EA or Lucasfilm as villains in this scenario; license agreements, especially for mega-popular intellectual properties like Star Wars, are pretty cut-and-dry, and there’s rarely room for third parties to (legally) create products using those IPs. That’s just basic business, and Romanelli admits he would “do anything to protect my golden egg” were the situations reversed.
But all is not lost. Frontwire is going to continue development of Galaxy in Turmoil, using the same general gameplay as Battlefront but without Star Wars elements — presumably things like lightsabers, Jedi, X-Wings, and so on. As with the original vision of the game, the new GiT will be completely free-to-play with no microtransactions and be financed via crowdfunding.
While it’s hard not to question Romanelli’s original decision to try and co-opt Star Wars’ IP for his own use, it’s at least admirable to see him continue development on his new vision for the game. Galaxy in Turmoil is quite the ambitious project, one that’s worth watching to see how it comes along.