One of the most shocking purchases of last year saw Disney accquring Lucasfilm and pretty much all its assets, including its venerable game developer Lucasarts. Sure, they hadn’t been on the greatest streak of late, with the less said about Kinect Star Wars & The Force Unleashed II the better, but Star Wars 1313 looked incredibly promising. And then the dream shattered, with the news today that Disney have effectively shuttered Lucasarts, ending the publisher/developers near 30 year life.
More specifically, Disney are restructuring the studio to become more of a licensing studio, to work with other publishers/developers to create games based on Lucasfilm properties. To this end, 150 people are being let go from the company, and several projects have been cancelled, or are currently seeking homes with new publishers/developers. Disney put out a statement regarding the move, reading as follows:
“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.”
Absolutely soul crushingly disappointing news. I’m sure I’m alone when I say Lucasarts was a big part of my gaming life growing up, and for a rather long period of time (pretty much the 90’s), they were arguably one of the best game developers in the world. Though in a weird way, the writing was kind of on the wall when the Disney acquisition happened, since the push to make 1313 a mature game wouldn’t exactly fly in the clean cut world of Disney. But in any case, it’s the end of an era. If you excuse me, I need to dig out my copy of Grim Fandango…