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Electronic Arts, Disney strike "Star Wars" games deal

Electronic Arts' Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Riccitiello introduces their new lineup during the EA press conference as part E3 in Los
Electronic Arts' Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Riccitiello introduces their new lineup during the EA press conference as part E3 in Los

By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Electronic Arts and Walt Disney Co sealed a multi-year licensing deal under which the video game publisher will develop games for mobile devices, PCs and consoles based on the "Star Wars" movies.

Disney, which bought George Lucas's Lucasfilm Ltd and the blockbuster sci-fi franchise for $4.05 billion in October, will retain the rights to develop online and mobile games, both companies said in a statement on Monday.

They did not reveal the financial terms of the agreement.

EA bet big on the Star Wars' world of jedis and wookies in 2011 by releasing its "Star Wars: The Old Republic" - a massive multiplayer player online game, or MMO, that allows thousands of people to play simultaneously for a monthly subscription fee as opposed to a one-time purchase.

Analysts said EA made a record investment of between $100 million and $300 million to build "Star Wars: The Old Republic," but EA has not disclosed costs. It hired more than 1,000 voice actors for "Star Wars: The Old Republic," which broke a game industry record.

But the game has struggled to retain players, prompting the company to offer 15 game levels for free in June last year. And in November, it launched a free-to-play version of the game.

Disney, which has its own interactive games division, last month shut the 30-year-old LucasArts games studio it inherited with the acquisition to focus on licensing its "Star Wars" brand externally.

EA shares were up 2 percent at $18.67 and Disney's stock was up slightly at $65.17 in after-hours trading.

(Reporting By Malathi Nayak. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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