My sources went up in flames when the news of Disney shutting down LucasArts came about yesterday (April 3rd). LucasArts – as a developer – is now no more, and Disney has said that they will now license Lucas property to external developers. As as a result of the company’s closure, many employees have had to be laid off. GameInformer received an email confirming this news.
“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”
After being around for nearly 30 years, LucasArts was bought by Disney in October 2012 by extension of its $4 billion purchase of its parent company LucasFilm. At the time, it was apparently “business as usual“, according to a spokesperson who told Develop, and that the LucasArts team was “excited about all the possibilities that Disney brings.”
The folding of LucasArts didn’t come as a surprise to some, however. It has been observed that the team have been going down hill for a while, since the developer’s more recent titles have been received with a near universal shrug.
Ever since the wind of this news wafted up the noses of my sources, the majority of them assumed that Star Wars-licensed titles, such as Star Wars 1313 (which was showcased at last year’s E3) and the recently leaked Star Wars: First Assault, have been canceled. On the contrary; it seems, however, there may be some hope for some of those titles yet.
A Disney spokesperson told Develop that titles that are still under development are “under evaluation.” They have also been informed that some of the LucasArts staff will be moving to Disney Interactive, whilst another team will stay with LucasArts as part of its licencing team.
GameInformer have also recently interviewed a LucasFilm representative, who revealed that some of the company’s titles that are still in development might still have a future.
“All of these things happened at once. Naturally, as any company that goes through a big announcement like this, you have to look through your whole portfolio and realign some things. 1313 was looking fantastic, the reception has been great. Our other unannounced titles are fine, it just got to a point where from a business standpoint we couldn’t continue developing those internally and keep up with the direction that the company was going.”
Despite the assumptions that titles have been canceled, the representative said that the company is evaluating its options concerning titles still in development.
“It is worth noting that we are looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans. We still believe in the video game industry, we still will provide ‘Star Wars’ games, we’re just looking at different models rather than internal production… They’re evaluating everything. There’s always a possibility that it ‘Star Wars 1313’ can still come out via licensing.”
So, this is at least some good news. It’s unfortunate to hear that LucasArts will no longer be around, but at least the Star Wars license may still live on. Besides, look on the bright side: this could lead to fresh minds bringing out new imaginations of the Star Wars franchise. All we can do really is just wait. There’s still light at the end of the tunnel for games like Star Wars 1313, and, hey, maybe we’ll see a return of old classics, like the X-Wing or Jedi Knight series, or Battlefront (again) — hell, I’d love to see a new Galactic Battlegrounds game.
As for the movie front in all this (apparently there’s going to be three new films to take place after the saga), nothing has come up as of yet. Since it wasn’t LucasFilm that was closed, I assume that those projects are safe. That doesn’t mean to say that any sort of domino effect might not happen later down the line, however.
My thoughts go out to all those who lost their jobs, as does the rest of our thoughts here at The Gamer’s Drop.