As a Star Wars fanatic – despite some of the more recent films – I’ve passionately followed almost everything that came out of the Jedi world. From the movies to the collectibles, the Mandalorian to the game releases – it’s been an exciting ride and one that hopefully Disney will keep true to its’ original form. So perhaps I’m going a little off topic here – but the rivalry between the Trekkies and ourselves seems to have been an easy victory outside of the gaming world.
You see when Disney bought the rights to the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, they had a very different opinion of how the brand should be publicised, and quickly reined in anything they thought might deviate from their family-friendly image. Gone were the multiple streaming platforms showing the Star Wars films, gone were the branded games on third-party websites and casino platforms – replaced instead by an explosive number of film releases to milk the brand. In fact – there has been such a drop off in support of the latest trilogy that Disney have decided to suspend their films in favour of TV spin-offs!
But it’s the gaming world I want to focus on here – having seen yet another advert for a new Star Trek slot machine – to understand why Disney wouldn’t try and capitalise on a strong income stream for themselves. The Marvel slot machines like Thor, Hulk and the Avengers – when they were live – generated a serious revenue stream for the franchise through both net revenue losses and image rights alone. The online casino industry is worth well over $100 billion – likely higher with the recent lockdown – so taking a slice of the most profitable part of it (slot machines) seemed like a no brainer. But it’s the fact that Star Trek are making a bundle off of branded slot machines by partnering with industry behemoths like WMS or IGT! So what will it take for Disney to take a gamble (literally!) on some branded slot machines and third-party games. Who wouldn’t want to spin the reels with Skywalker, Leia and Yoda … who wouldn’t enjoy battling the Empire with Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine or even Jabba the Hutt?
Perhaps it’s time for the Jedi community to start brainstorming and campaigning for Disney to loosen the belt and allow a few Star Wars features for us adults to enjoy. Star Wars was one of my favourite memories as a child, but it’s also been going since 1978 – that’s 42 years – so surely they understand that some of their original fans will now have grown up and want a different kind of engagement? Hopefully they will take a page out of the Trekkies book – or some of the other branded slots like Capcom’s Street Fighter II, Hasbro’s Monopoly extensive range or keep pace with the iconic movies like Rambo, Top Gun, Jurassic Park and King Kong who have all released Blockbuster slot machines for us to try. Oh well … let’s just hope that Disney see the potential and in the mean time – echoing the final word of Leia Organa in Rogue One – let’s just have ‘Hope’.