Disney closes its LucasArts game publishing subsidiary, acquired by the studio late last year.
Disney is closing its LucasArts game publishing subsidiary, according to a report by Game Informer.
The official statement from Disney (which recently acquired LucasFilm and LucasArts) reads as follows:
"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 the company had some success with games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the Battlefront series, both of those franchises seem to have withered. LucasArt's other big franchise, Indiana Jones, has failed to make much of a dent in games in recent years, with the exception of Traveller's Tales LEGO Indiana Jones series, which was not developed by LucasArts.
More recently, LucasArts caused a stir at E3 2012 with an impressive looking demo for a new Star Wars project entitled Star Wars 1313. However, in the months that followed, the project seemed to lose steam, with rumors circulating that the game had ceased production.
In 2004, LucasArts president Jim Ward led a massive restructuring of the company, laying off many development staffers in the process. Ward left in 2008, to be replaced by EA's Darrell Rodriguez, who lasted only two years at the head of the company. Rodriguez's position was ultimately filled by Epic Games' Paul Meegan, who then stepped down in 2012. The company was co-led by Kevin Parker and Gio Corsi until it was acquired by Disney.
During that time, LucasArts brought in industry vet Clint Hocking (who helped lead the Far Cry and Splinter Cell franchises at Ubisoft) in as its new creative director. Hocking lasted only two years in the position and left without completing the game he had been working on.
The last game published by LucasArts as a company is the Kinect Star Wars.
Website Kotaku is reporting that 150 LucasArts employees have been laid off, and that the games Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313 have been cancelled.
Meanwhile, Game Informer reports that the company is evaluating its options regarding projects currently in development, which could be licensed out to external development and publishing partners:
"It is worth noting that we are looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans. We still believe in the video game industry, we still will provide Star Wars games, we're just looking at different models rather than internal production... They're evaluating everything. There's always a possibility that Star Wars 1313 can still come out via licensing.”
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.