When it comes to mismanagement, there are levels to the ineptitude that a big corporation can exhibit.
Sometimes, “mismanagement” is just a matter of a company trying to exist and survive under President Joe Biden’s “Bidenomics.”
Other times, like with the myriad of ways that the Walt Disney Company has completely bungled its once-beloved “Star Wars” property, it speaks to a deeper rot — the kind of rot that portends the fall of empires.
The latest hardship that “Star Wars” fans have had to endure while the intellectual property remains under the House of Mouse’s banner involves arguably the most beloved video game in the entire franchise’s history: 2003’s “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.”
You see, Disney, perhaps knowing that it is rapidly losing “nerd cred” with its core constituency, unveiled a wildly anticipated remake of that beloved 2003 title at Sony’s September 2021 “Playstation Showcase” event (think of it as a string of movie previews, but for video games.)
The announcement was met with thunderous applause and expectation — again, for many Star Wars fans, “Knights of the Old Republic” (KOTOR) is as beloved a franchise pillar as Darth Vader or “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Just about two years later, and with nary an official update on the title, that anticipation has given way to concern and consternation that this anticipated project would be killed off as the latest sacrifice on the altar of wild Disney mismanagement.
And that could be a blow to “Star Wars” fandom that the House of Mouse can ill afford at the moment.
Exacerbating matters, and highlighting some genuinely stunning decision-making by Disney, instead of trying to own up to the likely failure that was this KOTOR remake, Disney appears to be allowing its contracted partners to slink around on the internet and try to scrub it from existence.
According to gaming website Kotaku,” Star Wars” fans first began noticing some peculiar behavior from studios this week.
Official trailer posts for the ‘KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC’ remake have reportedly been made private. pic.twitter.com/t3PsL3pQ89
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) September 28, 2023
First, the original trailer appeared to be taken down on Playstation’s YouTube channel.
Next, fans began noticing that Sony was scrubbing all of its past social media posts regarding the game.
If that’s all that was done, perhaps people wouldn’t fret as much. But these mysterious deletions come a year after a 2022 Bloomberg report that noted just how much the game was struggling in development (two project leads were fired after an underwhelming demo for the higher-ups.)
A Sony representative did get back to Kotaku as to why the game was seemingly being erased, and the response only raises more questions about just how badly Disney is bungling this.
“As part of normal business, we delist assets with licensed music when the licenses expire,” a Sony representative told Kotaku.
As Kotaku noted, however, the only music in that deleted trailer was the iconic “Star Wars theme” — a theme song owned by the Walt Disney Company.
Now, one may point to Sony or parent publisher Embracer (whose two developer studios, Saber Interactive and Aspyr Studios have been attached to this floundering project) as the primary culprits of this debacle, and that’s more than fair.
But given that we simply don’t know the behind-the-scenes how or why Sony and Embracer are bungling this project, this writer thinks the lion’s share of the project’s failure should rest at the feet of Disney.
Why? Because, while we clearly also don’t know the behind-the-scenes workings of Disney, the company’s forward-facing actions speak plenty loud enough on their own.
Just look at their content strategy (and we can even ignore all the woke nonsense embedded within them): Disney doesn’t respect its intellectual properties, it only respects how much money can be wrung from them.
After purchasing Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney released its first “Star Wars” film in 2015, “The Force Awakens.” Since that release, the company has pumped out another four feature-length “Star Wars” films.
If that was it, maybe “Star Wars” fandom wouldn’t be grousing so much.
But in between those films, the company has driven the franchise into oversaturation with an untold number of spinoffs, including a bevy of cartoon and live-action Disney+ shows whose cumulative episode run-times far outweigh that of five movies.
Trying to wring blood from that stone is all on Disney.
As is the fact that they’re apparently allowing their own music licenses to expire on their own projects.
As is allowing apparently dysfunctional studios to helm one of its most beloved properties (Again, who knows what’s going on at Sony and Embracer, but Disney does control who it gives creative rights to …)
As is diminishing the value of the modern “Star Wars” brand to the point that fans are more looking forward to a remake of a 20-year-old video game than they are to the season finale of “Ahsoka.”
Look, one misstep — even with a property as beloved as KOTOR — won’t sour a fan base.
But a string of disastrous, greedy decisions and a complete lack of care for the intellectual property?
That’ll do it — and Disney can’t afford that.