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Nintendo Wins 'Star Wars' Battle for Rights to Games Based on New Film

November 03, 1998| From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Nintendo of America Inc. beat out rival Sony for the initial rights to video games based on the first of the three new "Star Wars" movies.

Nintendo is expected to announce today that it has been awarded the rights for two video games tied to "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," which is due out in May. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The games will be available on Nintendo 64, its 3-D video game player, and its new portable Game Boy color hand-held system.

"Star Wars" is already the best-selling toy license to date, with millions of dollars in revenue each year. The three new "prequels" from Lucasfilm Ltd. will track the early life of villain Darth Vader.

Under the deal, LucasArts Entertainment Co. will develop and publish the Nintendo 64 games, while Nintendo will develop the same titles for Game Boy.

Nintendo will market each of the games and hold exclusive distribution rights after the release of each game. The first game, which has not been named, would be released in conjunction with the movie premiere.

The agreement also includes licensing for "Star Wars: Rogue Squadron," a new Nintendo 64 game based on the original "Star Wars" movie that will be released on Dec. 7.

For Nintendo, the deal comes at the start of the important holiday shopping season, giving it an edge over market leader and fierce rival Sony PlayStation.

"This is a big deal because it gives Nintendo the opportunity to put out 'Episode I' games before anyone else," said Sean McGowan, an analyst at Gerard Klauer Mattison. "It also gives 'Star Wars' maniacs a reason to buy Nintendo [systems] over their competitor."

LucasArts, however, will still produce computer games based on the movie, and other video game makers, such as Sony, will eventually have the opportunity to produce games tied to the movie.

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