The Star Wars franchise has given birth to countless products from action figures to novels that expanded the incredible galaxy far, far away. Video games were one of the many avenues in which the Star Wars property expanded into, almost from the start.
The technological advancements in game development and gaming consoles over the course of time have allowed new and incredibly detailed stories in the Star Wars universe to be shared with new and old fans alike. The history of Star Wars video games is an incredibly interesting journey that presents the growth of the franchise over the decades.
There are three “eras” considered to be the most significant to the development of Star Wars video games. These eras include the early licensed games, the games developed after the establishment of LucasArts, and the games following the closure of LucasArts.
The Early Licensed Games
The first Star Wars video game was actually an unlicensed product. Apple Computer produced a “space pilot sim” in 1978 for their Apple II computer. It was not until the release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1982 that a licensed Star Wars video game would be released.
The Atari 2600 received the first major licensed release for Star Wars video games. These early licensed games typically recreated stories from the films of the Original Trilogy.
The LucasArts Era
George Lucas decided in the early 1980s to invest in the videogame industry. Lucas established a video game development company named LucasArts. Unfortunately for the young company, Lucas had sold all the licensed rights to develop Star Wars games to other companies.
Despite this glaring challenge, LucasArts developed original adventure games and flight combat games. In 1993, LucasArts regained the right to develop Star Wars games. This is often considered by many fans to be the most successful period for Star Wars games.
Video games such as Star Wars Jedi Knight and the first game in the Rogue Squadron series were released to critical acclaim. Countless games were developed in this time period to varying degrees of success. This continued until the acquisition of LucasFilm by The Walt Disney Company in 2012.
Licensing To EA Games
With the acquisition, LucasArts would no longer produce video games and was closed. Disney and LucasFilm would create a partnership with Electronic Arts to produce new Star Wars games. This was followed by a major restructuring of the Star Wars universe’s canon that extended into the video games.
The success of Star Wars games produced after the acquisition has been mixed. This has led to speculation that LucasFilms has considered changing the terms of the license agreement.
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