As part of the acquisition of LucasFilm back in October, Disney also picked up their revered gaming studio, LucasArts. It was a news story that pretty much melted the internet and one which raised more questions than answers. However, in a statement released today, some of those questions were unfortunately answered. The newly appointed parent company has shut down LucasArts and will instead licence out properties to third-party developers and Disney Interactive.
Here’s the press release reported by Kotaku:
“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,” LucasFilm said in a statement. “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.”
The news may come as no surprise to some fans, after rumours surfaced recently that the studio’s upcoming titles – namely Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault – had tumbled into the Sarlacc pit of development hell. Even still, LucasArts had been a cornerstone of the industry for more than three decades and held a reputation for producing top quality games, such as Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, which were released during the studio’s creative heyday in the late 1980’s.
During the ultimate years, though, LucasArts became the industry’s beacon for Star Wars video games, and with two titles reportedly in development at the time of closure, the fates of Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault remain unclear. Early reports suggest that the games will still be finalised, albeit under new parties, but it’s still too early to call.
One thing’s for sure, since Disney bought LucasFilm and its subsidiaries, the company have made some controversial decisions. Today’s closure of LucasArts joins the cancellation of the popular show Star Wars: The Clone Wars – however the studio has promised the return of the animated series in some shape or form.
On the gaming front, though, as it turned out the recent radio silence from LucasArts was a bad omen that proved to be true. The studio had a built-in fan base that remained loyal through the years and, at one point in time, their co-published MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic had over 1.7 million subscribers. Let’s hope the creative minds at the studio who were affected by the layoffs find new employment sooner rather than later.
What’s your reaction to this closure? Is it a sure sign that studios face increasing industry pressure from the rising cost of game development? As a result, do you think Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault will see the light of day?