In brief: Words With Friends developer Zynga has just signed a multi-year deal with Disney to develop a future Star Wars game with the option to produce a second. The agreement also hands the reins over on the live operations of Star Wars: Commander, a tower-defense title previously handled by Disney Interactive.
VentureBeat reports Zynga’s UK-based NaturalMotion studio will be handling the production on the first game, which is planned for iOS and Android. While the company is best known for it Scrabble knockoff and Zynga Poker, its subsidiary NaturalMotion has experience in more action-oriented titles like the CSR racing series and Dawn of Titans.
NaturalMotion, which Zynga acquired in 2014, will be handling the day-to-day operations and future updates for Star Wars: Commander. The studio will also presumably be doing some hiring to simultaneously work on a new yet unnamed game set in the Star Wars universe.
“Star Wars is one of the most iconic franchises in the world and has engaged generations of fans for decades,” said Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau. “As game makers and moviegoers, we’re huge fans of Star Wars and are excited to create new experiences for players that bring this beloved brand to life. We look forward to extending the reach of the Star Wars universe and developing a new mobile game that entertains players for years to come and has the potential to be a future forever franchise for Zynga.”
Gibeau previously worked at Electronic Arts and was instrumental in securing the company the PC and console licenses for Star Wars in 2013. It seems he was able to work his magic once more for mobile but for Zynga this time.
It is unclear what this deal means to EA. While the maker of Star Wars: Battlefront still retains its exclusive license for PC and console titles, this “non-exclusive” deal with Zynga means that the company will have to share the mobile market. How that split is going to goes is uncertain, but other than continuing operations of its Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes game, EA has no other irons in the fire for the platform.
We’ll have to see if EA steps up its game now that there is new competition in town, especially since Zynga will eventually have three titles in its livery.