Sadly, it’s true. In a move most of the gaming industry saw coming since Disney’s acquisition of all things George Lucas last October, the 31-year-old gaming studio known as LucasArts has been laid to rest.
Star Wars: Battlefront (2004)
In their official statement, Disney said “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.”
Star Wars: Force Unleashed (2008)
Since 2004, LucasArts seemed plagued with problems not only with their game titles/franchises (including a VERY public battle with developer Free Radical over whose fault it was for the cancellation of SW: Battlefront III) but with administration as well. More specifically, someone willing to stick around for more than 2 years.
The Secret Of Monkey Island (1990)
2004 saw a massive company restructure by then LucasArts President Jim Ward (where a ton of development staff saw their jobs disappear faster than Obi-Wan when Darth struck him with his light saber) who then himself left in 2008 and replaced by Darrell Rodriguez from EA (who also left after two years) THEN replaced by Epic Games’ Paul Meegan (you guessed it, left two years later) THEN co-led by Kevin Parker and Gio Corsi until the Disney buyout.
In 2010, LucasArts decided to bring in Clint Hocking, a seasoned industry vet with a great track record on the Far Cry and Splinter Cell franchises (Ubisoft) as their new Creative Director but once again, after two years, Hocking left for Valve and without finishing the game he was working on. When a CD leaves without finishing a project (coupled with some poor showings like Star Wars Kinect and Star Wars: The Old Republic) you know the water’s gotta be tainted, right?
Grim Fandango (1998)
LucasArts’ list of games have a long and storied history that (other than Star Wars titles like Knights Of The Old Republic, Battlefront and Force Unleashed) fans throughout the world named a ton of titles they loved but none more so than three specific titles they said were “a big part of their gaming formative years”: Grim Fandango, Day Of The Tentacle and The Secret Of Monkey Island – all of which were designed/written by Tim Schaefer and Ron Gilbert. Schaefer himself moved on from LucasArts in 2000 to found Double Fine Productions with former LucasArts programmers David Dixon and Jonathan Menzies; making a mark of their own with the classic hit, Psychonauts and beyond.
Star Wars: 1313 (?)
The biggest question on everyone’s mind is what’s going to happen to Star Wars 1313 (above), which made a nice little showing for itself at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). While word broke out yesterday that (like Battlefront III before it and now, Star Wars: First Assault) had been cancelled, a rep from LucasFilm told Game Informer that the fate of 1313 may not be over just yet.
“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.”
Day Of The Tentacle (1993)
And as the company is now looking to license out titles (including the SW franchise) out to third-party developers and publishers, the rep goes on to say “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.”
Am I a little nervous about what’s to come? Sure, but I’m also hopeful.
And with fans like this guy (who made this Star Wars/Day Of The Tentacle mash) still around, I know the legacy LucasArts created will NEVER be forgotten.
It’s estimated that nearly 200 lost their jobs as a result of yesterday’s closure and as a gaming journalist (day job), I sincerely hope you ALL find new jobs soon.
May The Force be with you…always.
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