Ubisoft to Make Star Wars Game, Marking End to EA Exclusivity

(Bloomberg) -- Ubisoft Entertainment SA said it will develop a new Star Wars game, indicating a longtime exclusivity agreement for Electronic Arts Inc. on the Walt Disney Co. franchise will come to an end.

The new Star Wars title is set to be the first not published by EA since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. The news sent shares of the two game companies diverging Wednesday. Ubisoft climbed more than 7%, and EA fell as much 3.2%.

The agreement with EA is scheduled to expire in 2023. In an emailed statement, EA said: “We’re proud of our long-standing collaboration with Lucasfilm Games, which will continue for years to come.” Lucasfilm said in a blog post Wednesday morning that it had “a number of projects underway” with EA. A representative for Ubisoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ubisoft said only that its game will be set in an open-world environment and will developed by the company’s Massive Entertainment team in Sweden, best known for a series of shooting games called Tom Clancy’s The Division. The group is also working on a game based on James Cameron’s “Avatar” movies.

EA struck the exclusivity deal in 2013, following the closure of the long-running development studio LucasArts. It gave EA the rights to publish all games based on the license, expect those on nontraditional gaming platforms such as on phones or Facebook.

Star Wars fans have complained that EA wasn’t doing the franchise justice. The publisher released four Star Wars games and canceled at least three others. With the exclusivity arrangement set to end in about two years, Disney is signaling it’s already preparing for life after EA.

Earlier this week, Lucasfilm said a new Indiana Jones video game is underway at Bethesda Softworks LLC, which agreed to sell itself last year to Microsoft Corp. for $7.5 billion.

(Updates with EA comment in the third paragraph.)