Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is more than 12 years old, but it has received two patches in the past four months, leaving fans of the old Pandemic Studios-developed shooter wondering who exactly is behind these updates. It turns out that although Disney isn’t making console or PC games anymore, it’s still working with partners to maintain older titles.
LucasArts originally published Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and Disney took control of the game when it acquired LucasArts’ parent company, Lucasfilm, in 2012. (Note that 2005’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is unrelated to the similarly titled Electronic Arts-published game Star Wars Battlefront 2, which was released in November 2017.)
Pandemic’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2 lost official network support in May 2014 with the shutdown of GameSpy Technology. Fans had kept the game alive through workarounds, but they were treated to a pleasant surprise in October 2017. That’s when GOG Galaxy revived Battlefront 2 with a patch that reactivated online play across both GOG and Steam. Players reported a number of technical issues at the time, and a second update was released yesterday, Jan. 3. The 240 MB patch delivered “minor bug fixes and optimized performance”:
Lobby functionality has been improved
Steam usernames should now display correctly
Ping calculations are more accurate
It’s strange for any decade-old game to be updated, especially one like Battlefront 2, whose listed publishers are Lucasfilm, LucasArts and Disney Interactive — three companies that are not primarily developing traditional console/PC games anymore. (Disney closed LucasArts in April 2013, and shut down the internal development studio at Disney Interactive in May 2016; with some exceptions, Disney now exists in the gaming market only as a licensing business.)
A Disney representative told Polygon that although the company isn’t actively developing console/PC titles, gaming teams do exist within Disney and Lucasfilm. These internal groups deal with outside parties such as licensees and other development partners, working to maintain proper stewardship of Disney’s brands.
In the case of Battlefront 2, the Disney spokesperson said that GOG Galaxy is handling the back end for the game’s online play, including the development of patches. The company’s work amounts to maintenance and upkeep, a chiefly technical endeavor rather than a creative one. In other words, it’s unrealistic to expect new content for a game that launched in late 2005, and other additions that fans are clamoring for — like Steam Workshop support and dedicated servers — may also be asking too much.
Still, it’s rare that an old game is revived in a form that doesn’t ask players to pay for a re-release. In comparison to the controversy surrounding EA’s implementation of loot crates in 2017’s Battlefront 2, this seems like a nice gesture from Disney.