The House of Mouse Has Closed LucasArts
Since Disney’s buyout of all things Lucas last Fall – including such assests as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the likeness of young Richard Dreyfuss circa American Graffiti (I’m guessing) – the merger has been nothing but high-fives and ass slaps…
Except for poor LucasArts. LucasFilm’s game publishing division has overseen not just the Star Wars license since 1982, but has made several hefty contributions to the gaming ‘verse in the form of The Secret of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion games, greatly shaping the point n’ click adventure genre. Today, Disney announced it has let go LucasArts’ staff and effectively closed the once mighty studio. Disney intends on keeping the studio’s name only, using the brand on future, licensed out games (likely Star Wars titles) to external developers.
The official byline regarding LucasArts’ death follows: “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.”
Star Wars 1313 (above) and Star Wars: First Assault, the former a high-profile next-gen action game that Disney requested to be put on hold and the ladder being an unrevealed (yet still leaked) precursor to Battlefront III, are, according to Disney, to be possibly licensed out for completion, but sources close to LucasArts reported to Kotaku those two are as good as cancelled.
LucasArts, despite some moderate success this generation (i.e. the first Force Unleashed), have been circling the drain for quite a while, even before the merger. Mismanagement, constantly shifting company leads, financial disappointments (cue The Old Republic), and the use of external developers as a crutch instead of their in-house team all spelled “TROUBLE” in bright, yellow Star Wars-font. Pair that with Disney’s outspoken disinterest in funding big, expensive games over cheaper, safer bets, the outlook for LucasArts was Grim Fandango.
Still, I can’t help but mourn the loss of the time weathered giant. Shadows of the Empire, Rogue Squadron, that terrible Jedi Power Battles game that my friends hated playing with me – their Star Wars titles alone brought hundreds of hours of happy distraction throughout my life, from childhood to adulthood.
You’re going to hear “May the Force be with you” until you vomit. I won’t commit such fuckery. Instead, I just want to say thank you, LucasArts, and good luck.