Disney Closing LucasArts

Disney is closing LucasArts, the game development studio that has been a part of the LucasFilms family for decades. Disney said that its shift from an internal development model to a licensing model means that it needs to minimize its risks for its "broader portfolio" of games.

The company issued a brief statement to Game Informer and then later Polygon:

"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."

The parent company of LucasArts has laid off staff but has not revealed an exact head count. The fate of games in development like Star Wars 1313 are uncertain as of this writing.

Disney acquired Lucasfilm, Ltd for $4.05 billion in October 2012. That acquisition included Lucasfilm Animation and LucasArts. LucasArts is best known for such classic video game franchises as The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and a number of memorable Star Wars games. LucasArts was working on Star Wars 1313 at the time of the acquisition, a third-person action game that it showed off at Gamescom last year. At the time Disney acquired the studio it said that "all projects are business as usual … we are excited about all the possibilities that Disney brings."

I guess that wasn't exactly true.

Source: Game Informer, Polygon

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  1. 0
    Truec says:

    Depending on how careful they are with the licenses, this could be a plus.  We'se seen with the Star Wars license that letting other people play with it can result in Knights of the Old Republic.  Or it can result in The Old Republic.

  2. 0
    lordlundar says:

    They could have, but LucasArts hasn't actually made a game in years. Just about everything they had their name stamped on was Star wars and that was mostly licensing.

    Not really sure what LucasArts could have brought to DIS that wasn't there already.

  3. 0
    Neeneko says:

    I am not sure I agree.  While not their primary domain, Disney has a pretty significant presence in terms of game development, with a long history of internally developed and self published titles.  If they really were not interested in it still being part of the Lucas structure they could have easily folded the studio into the DIS division.

  4. 0
    black manta says:

    I can't exactly say I'm really broken up about this.  The glory days of LucasArts from the early-to-mid '90s has long passed.  Sure, there were a few bright spots in the last decade; KOTOR of course, but also Republic Commando and Empire at War were also very good.  But by and large, their time as a powerhouse publisher have come and gone.  It feels almost like euthanasia at this point.

    As for Disney, as Zach pointed out, Disney was never exactly big on games.  At least not on games made for adults.  What ones they did do were g ood (TRON 2.0, Split/Second, even Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon was a decent Starfleet Command-style strategy game), but they either didn't sell well enough for them to warrant a follow-up or just really wanted to focus more on kids' games.  The upcoming release of Disney Infinite I think is a clear indicator of where their priorities lie right now.

    Hopefully like Zach said, this will make the rest of their back catalog available elsewhere, be it GOG, Steam or even Telltale.

    Personally, I'm thinking Steam will be the most likely, considering how they've already got several titles on there already (both KOTOR games and the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series).

    I'm thinking what may likely happen is their library may be split-up among the three.  Steam will probably get the X-Wing and TIE Fighter-related titles, as well as EAW.  GOG may get the WWII-themed sims like Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe.  And Telltale may get all their adventure games like Maniac Mansion, Zak McCracken, Full Throttle, Loom, and the rest.  I wouldn't be surprised if that indeed ended up happening.

  5. 0
    Coffeya says:

    LucasArts was working on Star Wars 1313 at the time of the acquisition

    I'm surprised I haven't seen more rage from the forums about this.  I guess people still keeping hope and I wasn't expecting that.

  6. 0
    Neeneko says:

    This.. does not make a huge amount of sense.  Using external developers does not really lower your risk, in fact it generally increases it.  With internal development teams you have a greater amount of integration and control, with fewer layers to deal with.

    When you outsource your development, you end up with a narrow channel of oversight.

    Oh, wait…. now I get it.  Not lowering the risk of projects, but since they will never actually have to expend resources, instead just collect checks, they will end up with lower profits at a reduced cost to them.

    I suspect what we are seeing is less about risk management and more the final stages of an internal turf war between executives.  A move like this is generally reserved for companies that are failing and can no longer fund internal development, a last struggling gasp that gives a trickle of funds to a few remaining shareholders that companies do not expect to ever recover from…. Disney is not in that condition.

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