Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fairwell, LucasArts

Looks like the end of the line came up sooner than later.

While we really have nothing to judge if Disney is going to be doing a good job with Star Wars as far as films go, today we do have a rather sad affirmation that they seem to be giving up the goose as far as games from LucasArts are concerned. This news is all over the place on the net, but the fact that LucasArts has basically closed its doors, laid off most of its staff, and ceased game production altogether has come as a sudden shock to quite a few people, myself included.

“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,” LucasArts 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.”

It perhaps shouldn't be surprising when you consider the fact that most of what LucasArts has been releasing lately hasn't exactly been selling great. Most titles aside from the Force Unleashed franchise drew a lukewarm reception and even previously strong series like the Lego Star Wars offerings had been selling less and less comparatively.

It's worth noting that some of the games that LucasArts was working on, notably Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars First Assault are looking to be in limbo at best, and outright dropped at worst. With 150 staff members having lost their jobs it seems that if any sort of Star Wars games are going to be coming out in the future that they certainly won't be made in house.

Of course, some questions arise from this. The legendary adventure games like Monkey Island and Grim Fandango have been parts of LucasArts for years now. If they've been closed then is Disney planning to sell the rights to these games? If so then it would be possible for Double Fine to pick up these rights. I would imagine that this is thinking somewhat more than optimistically, but that would at least be one positive outcome from this whole mess.

What's really sad is that a lot of people lost their jobs, and aside from "trimming the fat" which is a piss poor excuse to begin with, I don't see a whole lot of reasoning for it. Disney isn't exactly an entity hurting for funds the last time I checked. Even if they had wanted to take the studio and rebuild it from the ground up and take it in a new direction it would have been entirely feasible. The shutdown just comes across as a sort of "yeah, we don't really give a shit".

A lot of people are upset, of course, but I'm wondering how much is more about the nostalgia over what LucasArts was rather than the loss of the company as it presently stood. That's not to say that they aren't allowed to mourn, it just seems like kind of a backwards reason to do so.

To me, this is just another in an increasingly growing list of worrying signs regarding the state of the industry. Is there legitimate reason to be concerned? I believe so. Granted, even if something is going wrong, one person alone isn't enough to stop it. Gamers as a whole, maybe, but I fear just how bad things might have to get before that happens.

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