Published on April 3rd, 2013 | by Andy Astruc3
LucasArts ends internal development by order of Disney
It’s the Day of the Dead. Not for everyone, just for the unfortunate employees of a certain Star Wars-focused development studio. Disney have officially shut down internal development at LucasArts and will be switching the company to a licensing-only model. Sources claim there was no offer of an insult swordfighting duel to settle the issue.
Disney confirmed the news in a statement to Game Informer. ”After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimising the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games,” said a spokesperson. ”As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organisation. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”
The most immediate concern has been for Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault. With Disney currently focused on other gaming properties, it does appear these projects might die off with little fanfare. 1313 in particular has received a lot of attention for its gritty, blaster-filled approach to the beloved universe. The property could be picked up, but Disney has not committed one way or another. A Disney executive stated they 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.”
While the closing of any studio is cause for a little respectful sadness — particularly if the studio in question has had a hand in more than a few gaming classics — it’s worth remembering that the last games worth mentioning they published were The Force Unleashed and Kinect Star Wars – aka gaming’s true Citizen Kane. From a licensing perspective, many of the games LucasArts pushed over to other companies became something rather magical (Knights of the Old Republic and LEGO Star Wars, for a start), so future Star Wars titles should be safe. Or in no more danger of being awful than they were before, at least.
But, in much the same way as we remember grandpa’s long, fulfilling life as a journalist and family man instead of his last few years of forgetting not to shit himself, LucasArts will be immortalised by all the grand things it brought to gaming. They taught me I wanted to be a pirate, that skeletons can die and that tentacles are extremely dangerous. Business is a messy business.