LucasArts, the popular game studio founded by Lucasfilm in 1982, has closed. The decision to shutter the celebrated studio was made by Disney, which acquired the company as part of its purchase of Lucasfilm last October.
News of LucasArts’ fate came Wednesday after months of speculation about its future. The company’s 150 staff members were informed of the decision Wednesday morning, and Disney provided this statement to the press shortly thereafter:
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.
While longtime video game fans will remember LucasArts fondly for its incredible portfolio of titles in the 1990s, including the X-Wing series and Full Throttle, the studio has more recently produced a number of underwhelming games, such as the mediocre Kinect Star Wars and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Management troubles and an inability to hold on to key employees contributed to LucasArts’ decline, and its failure to deliver a solid product during the past several years sealed its fate. Not all is lost, however. With Disney’s statement that it plans to adopt a licensing model for the company’s valuable intellectual property – which includes Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Sam & Max, Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, and more – fans of these classic games may finally get the proper re-releases and sequels they’ve been waiting years for LucasArts to make.
Some pundits even argue that Disney’s decision to close LucasArts might be the best news in years for those who remember the studio’s golden years. As Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett argues:
When you realize this dawdling and mismanagement has led to an exodus of staff, and see the sorry state the once-great studio was in, the decision by Disney is not a crime. It’s a mercy. 2013’s LucasArts wasn’t the same place behind games like Monkey Island and Tie Fighter. It was the place behind Star Wars Kinect. Which leads us to the silver lining: LucasArts can’t waste their own properties anymore.
While it’s sad to see LucasArts’ staff lose their jobs, the industry can now look forward to an uncertain, yet exciting, future that may see a proper revival of some of the best game franchises of all time.
R.I.P. LucasArts: more than 130 games over 31 years.