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Do You Remember The Canceled ‘Star Wars: Battlefront 3’?

In September of 2006, nearly a decade ago, a now defunct game studio named Free Radical Design — responsible for developing the TimeSplitters series, the second and third installments of the Crysis series, Haze, and Second Sight— announced Star Wars: Battlefront III, the long anticipated follow-up to the revered Star Wars: Battlefront series. After a sequence of license purchasing and transferring, Free Radical Design announced that they lost the rights to the Star Wars franchise in October of 2008; the game was in development for two years at that point. And thus, Star Wars: Battlefront III was launched into a perpetual limbo with no other studio picking up the project, leaving its development incessantly amorphous.

Several years later, information about Star Wars: Battlefront III resurfaced, but the delivery was not good: Free Radical Design co-founder Steve Ellis said that Battlefront III was “pretty much done” in 2008. LucasArts ostensibly canned the project because they didn’t want to “spend big” on marketing for the game. There has been some hearsay about how the cancellation of the game went down, and who actually cancelled it, but one thing was for certain: no more space battles. Until now.

Frontwire Studios, a group of modders turned full-fledged developers is creating their own version of Star Wars: Battlefront III. The project, titled Galaxy in Turmoil, was picked up by Valve, and will be published on Steam for free. Yes, you read that right: a studio comprised of modders is a developing a version of Star Wars: Battlefront III for Steam for free. According to their website, Frontwire Studios’ head “TheDarkSithLord began it all. He found a leaked Xbox 360 build of the cancelled Star Wars: Battlefront III created by Free Radical Design. He began the project with the hope of creating the Battlefront we always wanted.”

Reported by Kotaku, Galaxy in Turmoil was initially a CryEngine mod created by a group of adamant, zealous fans. Starting from the humble beginnings of a four-person team, Frontwire Studios grew to approximately 50 deep, changing the engine of Galaxy in Turmoil from the CryEngine to the Unreal Engine 3. In addition to Galaxy in Turmoil, they are working on a mobile game and an unannounced AAA game. Talk about ambitious.

As aforementioned, Galaxy in Turmoil will be released for free via Steam. However, that was not always the case: during a livestream in late April, as reported by GameSpot, Frontwire said it was unlikely that Galaxy in Turmoil would be released through Steam since it’s an unlicensed game. Thankfully, Frontwire took to their blog today to announce the Steam distribution deal with Valve.

“It is with great pleasure that as of today I am able to officially announce that Frontwire Studios has officially signed a distribution deal with Steam/Valve for the game Galaxy in Turmoil. After ongoing discussion between Valve Representatives and myself, Valve/Steam has agreed to ship Galaxy in Turmoil to it’s millions of users for FREE.”

As Mike Fahey of Kotaku questions, how long will it take before Disney catches wind and delicately smashes the Galaxy in Turmoil project? Fan art is one thing; a legal distribution deal on an unlicensed game is another. Well, it seems Fergie has some words on that as well.

“On a final note; People have been expressed their concern as of late, saying they expect us to get a Cease & Desist from Disney. I’ll be honest – I’ve had mild concerns myself from time to time. However Valve clearly lacks that same concern. By agreeing to publish Galaxy in Turmoil, Valve is assisting us in growing and ensuring the longevity of the Galaxy in Turmoil project and community as a whole.”

It seems everything is in the clear. Except for the fact that Frontwire Studios is a speck to the behemoth Disney. Disney could easily can the project — and maybe even the studio; or, at least, prevent the studio from developing anything Star Wars related — if they wanted to. You can check out the trailer for Galaxy in Turmoil above.

[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]