The Sad And Problematic History Of Battlefront Iii

Battlefront III is a game that has plagued the minds of gamers for 7 years now. The game was kind of  announced way back in 2006, all we knew was that LucasArts were involved in a deal with Free Radical Design (who were later purchased by Crytek and are now known as Crytek UK) and Battlefront III was the main candidate for speculation, which was of course proved to be true at a later date. It was the perfect time for a sequel and given the success of the previous two titles, nobody had any idea just how bad the situation was going to spiral out of control.

Two years later, the game which still wasn’t officially announced, surfaced in an Amazon listing very briefly and of course gamers had high hopes that the title would be hitting shelves in the near future. it wouldn’t be long before those hopes were dashed though. Behind the scenes, publisher/developer relations weren’t exactly great. As is common with this sort of situation rumors began to surface that there were some serious problems and this was going to be come to light eventually. Five months later Free Radical Design went bankrupt, and with them went the fans hopes of Battlefront III for the first time.

We were left with nothing but some renders for the time being.

Over the next year two possible candidates were suggested to be developing Battlefront III and the first leaked footage would appear online.. The first to be put forward was Rebellion Studios, very shortly after Pandemic Studios were also suggested to be making the game. Although we had candidates, our hopes were hinging on rumor for the time being. Despite the fact that Pandemic Studios had shot down rumors that they were working on the project, fans continued to speculate as two unnamed titles were announced, yet Rebellion Studios still remained the top candidate. This was backed up as Pandemic Studios were shut down in late 2009.

Our hopes were raised once again as more concept art continued to leak and shortly after, Gamestop briefly had a listing for Battlefront III on their website. In the following days LucasArts support confirmed the development of Battlefront III via a recorded phone call and instantly the majority were convinced that the game was finally on its way.

The game then received a new name and was being referred to as Battlefront Online, however the hype was going to begin to dwindle again as rumors began to swirl that the game had been cancelled for a second time. The whole of 2010 continued to be rife with uncertainty for the fans. With rumors swirling that the game was actually still in development, but with two new suggested studios, Slant Six Games and Spark Unlimited, it was really beginning to feel like we were being thrown from one crazy idea to another.

Late in 2010 as Spike’s VGA Awards were approaching the hype train came back in full force yet again. Spark Unlimited had an unannounced title in the works and many people were expecting them to reveal the game at the awards show. This was only another one of those cases which proves it’s best to remain skeptical in some situations.


Screenshots from Free Radical's 360 version of Battlefront III

Screenshots from Free Radical’s 360 version of Battlefront III

2011 continue to be a slow year for the game too, however Spark Unlimited eventually had a question and answer section solely due to the amount of speculation they were receiving about working on the game. A few months later they started to really get all our hopes up again when Spark Unlimited began sending out curious tweets that appeared to coincide with the Star Wars universe, just before the year ended they also announced that their secret project would be available in 2012. Fans got excited, however many had already been burned a lot in the past and decided to reserve their judgement until they had seen concrete evidence.

At this point it actually seemed really promising. Partnerships that suggested the game would arrivievin the near future were established in the first few weeks of 2012 and a few months later, Spark Unlimited revealed that they were having dinner with their publisher and the location happened to be suspiciously close to Lucasfilm’s location. LucasArts were also holding their GDC party just a few blocks from where Spark Unlimited were at the time of the tweet, all the peices of the puzzle seemed to be there, but only a month later, Spark Unlimited confirmed they were not working on the game, leaving us all puzzled yet again.

A war between LucasArts and Free Radical Design was also erupting at this time. Free Radical’s cofounder Steve Ellis aimed criticism at LucasArts, claiming that they were financially sabotaged as they were not being offered the required funding for marketing. However every story has two sides. An  anonymous ex-LucasArts employee claimed that Free Radical were receiving all the funding they were entitled to and were also missing deadlines repeatedly. It’s unlikely we will ever know the truth behind the situation, however the true dagger to the heart of the fans to come from the story was the notion that the game was 99% complete as Steve Ellis claimed.

The character select interface from Free Radical's Battlefront III

The character select interface from Free Radical’s Battlefront III

We had to wait another year before we would see anything that even remotely resembled the Battlefront franchise again, six months after Disney purchased the company. In fact it wasn’t until recently when DIsney announced many cancellations which led to the trailer for Star Wars: First Assault being released. The game didn’t have the vehicles that you would expect from Battlefront, and it may have seemed similar to a many generic first-person shooters, but we finally had some footage of a new title that may at least fill the gap partially. Unfortunately it was already confirmed that the game had been cancelled. At the same time it was revealed that Star Wars: 1313 which had made quite an impact at E3 2012 had been changed to be based around the popular character Boba Fett, and the game had also been cancelled.

It left us all in a bleak position as a fan of the Star Wars games, anything that we had possibly been excited about had been shut down and our best hopes of ever seeing them would be if LucasArts could find a developer to licence the games to. Fans began to wonder yet again, what had become of Battlefront III and why wasn’t it in development? Had the game been dropped all together due to the problems it faced in the past?

This is where fans took the most recent hit. On the 10th of April 2013 another video was revealed that showed gameplay from a title that was being referred to as ‘Version Two’ which bears a stunning resemblance to Battlefront. It has been suggested that Version Two was in the process of being transformed into Battlefront III and it certainly seems that way. The video shows all the gameplay you would expect from the fanchise, including ground troops, X-Wings, AT-AT Walkers, TIE Fighters and more. In fact for an unfinished project it already looks pretty fun to play.

It’s a tough time to be a Battlefront fan right now, With the game being essentially stuck in limbo nobody really knows whether the game will ever hit the shelves. It’s certainly questionable when Disney have stated that they plan to think carefully about violence in video games in light of the many shootings that have transpired in recent times. It’s hard to see where a competitive online shooter would fit in with that resume, but at the same time their desire to continue the Star Wars films also indicates that they may be more focused on how violence is depicted rather than removing it almost completely.

Also it’s hard to say which projects of the three may ever fall in the hands of another developer, if any of them do. I shouldn’t think that Disney see the game in the same light as the fans do considering that the game has undergone so much time in development and still failed to ever come to fruition. There’s also every chance that Disney may favor Star Wars: 1313 as the most important project to find a developer for since it features Boba Fett who is incredibly popular with the general Star Wars fanbase rather than exclusively the fans of the Battlefront games.

It’s generally not easy to guess what’s the next step for Battlefront III, or whatever it may be called if it surfaces again one day. The one thing I do know for sure though is Star Wars Battlefront III really deserves a break.

[Video Source: Kotaku]

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