Disney Closes LucasArts, Stops Development of Star Wars Games
In a surprise release this morning, Disney has officially announced that the game publishing subsidiary of the recently-acquired Star Wars giant, LucasArts, would officially cease operation. An official statement from Disney explains the direction LucasArts will be heading in, and it straddles the very thin line between awesome and not awesome.
"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."
This doesn't mean that there will no longer be Star Wars and Indiana Jones games to grace your consoles. What it does mean is that Disney is turning LucasArts into a glorified cash crop, content with licensing the name to third party developers. This could affect the franchise in any number of ways, but chances are it's a decent move for the franchise as a hole. Considering the games LucasArts has released within the past five years have, for the most part, done catastrophically poorly (a free-to-play MMO from an otherwise promising company is very indicative of financial turmoil), it should surprise no one that Disney wants to quickly negate any financial loss. In short, your Star Wars games will soon be developed by the highest bidder.
However, assuming Disney (and executives remaining at LucasArts) don't start licensing the Star Wars names to any dude in a basement with a Kickstarter project, this decision does encourage strong competition in developers. In fact, of the last decade or so, some of LucasArts' strongest sellers weren't developed internally (Double Fine's Grim Fandango, a handful of LEGO games).
It's a surprising decision, but ultimately, I think, the right one. What's your take on the licensing of LucasArts?
Update: It does seem like the upcoming LucasArts title Star Wars 1313 might still be in development, but experiencing major overhall. You can read more at GameInformer.