In a somewhat surprising move, Disney have shut down LucasArts, a development studio that has been around for over 20 years.
Reports suggest over 150 have been laid off. Whilst it would have been no surprise to hear off some downsizing, the closure of the studio that brought us such iconic games as the Monkey Island franchise, and a myriad of Star Wars games, is still somewhat of a shock.
In a statement LucasFilm said:
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.
It seems like Disney aren’t putting the kibosh on any future Star Wars games, just that they want development out of house to avoid any risk, a smart business move maybe, but possibly not so good for the quality of the end product. My money would be on a powerhouse like Activision taking on some of these future titles.
Star Wars 1313 is the main victim in terms of actual product. The next-gen game, which wowed attendees at last years E3 was shaping up to be one of the first major games for the next generation of games consoles, as well as high-end PC’s. Whilst LucasFilm and Disney have not confirmed its cancellation, Kotaku are reporting that they have shopped the options round for 1313 as well as another title but have had no interest.
This is sad news on the surface, and a lot of people have lost their jobs, but let’s not forget, the last game of any critical note that came out of LucasArts was Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. More recent efforts such as Kinect Star Wars were critically panned and two of the brands most iconic games, Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront were created externally by Bioware and Pandemic Studios.
All this likely means that we won’t be seeing the end of any Star Wars games, in fact, probably the opposite, if Disney do as they intend and outsource development to external studio’s, this could mean more Star Wars games, for better or worse.