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Disney Shuts Down LucasArts

Posted By Philip on April 3, 2013

Game Informer is reporting that Disney is closed down LucasArts and is moving to a licensing model for future Star Wars games.

Here is the official statement from Disney:
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.

As we noted in our earlier story on LucasArts rumors, Lucasfilm's video game division has struggled for some time now. The studio's last seriously successful game was The Force Unleashed in Fall 2008, and Star Wars: The Old Republic (which it published and BioWare developed) had to switch to a free-to-play model shortly after its launch.

LucasArts went through three presidents in four years, with Jim Ward leaving in February 2008, Darrell Rodriguez taking over and then leaving in May 2010, and finally Paul Meegan taking over but leaving in August 2012. Haden Blackman, who was widely praised for his work on The Force Unleashed, left in July 2010. A few months later, in September 2010, LucasArts laid off a third of its staff. It hired acclaimed former Ubisoft game director Clint Hocking in August 2010, but he left in June 2012 and none of his LucasArts work saw the light of day.

To many fans, these events suggested management problems -- issues that Disney probably doesn't want to deal with now that it runs the show.

Kotaku is also reporting the following about the fate of LucasArts personnel and projects:
Staff were informed of the shutdown this morning, according to a reliable Kotaku source. Some 150 people were laid off, and both of the studio's current projects—Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313—were cancelled. Disney will still use the LucasArts name to license games, but the studio is no more.

There's also this from Kotaku:
Publicly, Disney is saying their current games could be licensed out to a different publisher or developer, but according to our source, that's unlikely. Our source says Lucas has pursued the option for "one or both games," but nothing happened. "With the teams now basically being dispersed I think both games are effectively dead forever," our source said.

A second source also told Kotaku this afternoon that the chances of Lucas licensing out 1313 are very slim. The odds are "effectively zero," the source said.

Read Game Informer's full article here.

Thanks to Mark E. for the link.

UPDATE: Now Variety is reporting that Industrial Light & Magic will see layoffs as well:
Lucasfilm has long had a strategy of sharing technical resources and staff among visual effects, animation and games. But with production finished on the “Clone Wars” animated series and the next Star Wars animated series not yet in production, and the closing of LucasArts, a portion of its staff was left working only for ILM’s vfx business.

“It’s impossible for ILM to absorb all of those resources,” said a Lucasfilm spokesperson, “so with this change came the necessity for ILM to align itself and take responsibility for its own resources.” The company would not disclose the number of staffers who are being let go, but the group includes IT staffers and support staff.


Related Stories

April 16, 2013   Disney Lays Off More Lucasfilm Employees
April 10, 2013   Kotaku Details LucasArts' Final Months
April 9, 2013   KOTOR II Developer Wants To Pitch Another SW Game
April 4, 2013   Reaction Roundup: Disney's LucasArts Shutdown
April 4, 2013   Hollywood.com Looks at LucasArts' Best & Worst SW Games
April 3, 2013   Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy Source Code Released





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