Here’s some troubling news: it appears that Disney, who acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars IP back in 2012, have decided to pull the plug on two popular mobile Star Wars games. Both Tiny Death Star and Star Wars Assault Team have been permanently removed from the App Store so that Disney can “focus on priority titles like the Clash of Clans-like Star Wars Commander" according to a statement given to Game Informer.
Tiny Death Star was a collaboration with Nimblebit, creators of the original Tiny Tower, and at first seemed like it would be a match made in heaven. The Tiny Tower formula applied to the Star Wars license and the ability to build your very own Death Star had major appeal. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t quite as great as anyone hoped. The ultra-friendly free to play system that Nimblebit games are known for was made less friendly by Disney, and the game itself was riddled with bugs and performance problems pretty much from the first moment it arrived in the App Store just last November. Despite all that, the game still seemed to be doing well, and was just updated at the beginning of August with performance and bug fixes. It might not have been the runaway success that the original Tiny Tower was, but it certainly didn’t seem like Tiny Death Star was in jeopardy of being killed off.
It’s important to note that Nimblebit merely acted as consultants on Tiny Death Star, and the game (and its monetization scheme) were actually developed in-house by Disney, which explains why it didn’t quite have the same magic. This also leads to possibly the craziest part of this story: Nimblebit was not informed beforehand that Tiny Death Star would be pulled from the App Store. Ian Marsh of Nimblebit tells us “We’d like to apologize to all the Star Wars and Tiny Tower fans affected by the game’s removal. While we received no advance warning, Disney was quick to reach out to us today after the news started hitting online media. I’ve been informed by Disney that Tiny Death Star is being shut down permanently." That’s especially awful for Nimblebit because, even though they were in a pretty hands-off position with Tiny Death Star, it was still a source of income for them. Income that was pulled out from under them without any prior warning.
As to what Tiny Death Star fans should do going forward, Marsh has this to say: “We suggest anyone who was enjoying Tiny Death Star check out Tiny Tower Vegas (Free), which isn’t going anywhere anytime soon." Indeed, despite being a pretty big Star Wars fan, I never was able to get into Tiny Death Star. It had all the right ingredients, but something just felt off about it. In comparison, Tiny Tower Vegas has reignited that love I found in the original Tiny Tower back in 2011, and has become a daily habit when playing with my iPhone.
In regards to Star Wars: Assault Team, its untimely demise seems almost more puzzling. The game was only announced in January of this year, and officially launched in late March. It was a collectible card-battling game, which also seems like a perfect fit for the Star Wars IP. However, while I haven’t really paid attention to if it was doing well or not, it seems that it at least wasn’t doing well enough to keep around after only being around for just five months.
This isn’t the first time a Star Wars-branded game has been removed from the App Store. This also happened back in 2011 when Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner and several other THQ-published Star Wars mobile games were all removed from sale after a licensing deal between THQ and Lucasfilm ran out. However, this current situation is much different as it’s not due to a licensing problem, rather it’s just Disney not feeling it’s worth it to keep these games around. And that certainly sucks if you’ve ever spent any money on these games or enjoyed them in any way.
Should Disney suddenly have a change of heart and decide to bring either of these titles back, we’ll let you know (don’t hold your breath). In the meantime, I guess, you have Disney’s Clash of Clans clone Star Wars: Commander to enjoy, just don’t get TOO attached because you never know when Disney might pull the rug out from under one of your favorite games.