2013 continues to prove a brutal year for many video game studios. Joining the likes of Vigil Games (Darksiders) and others under THQ’s umbrella is the 31-year-old development house LucasArts.
“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,” reads a statement from Lucasfilm, “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.
Opened by George Lucas and Lucasfilm, the studio produced some of the most groundbreaking PC games of the 1980s and ‘90s, from the early adventure games of Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer like Maniac Mansion and Grim Fandango, to space combat games like X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in October 2012 though, the future of LucasArts has been in question. Disney CEO Bob Iger said after completing the $4 billion acquisition that Disney planned to focus on developing mobile and social games based on the Star Wars series while exploring licensing opportunities with outside video game studios.
A Kotaku report in March said that LucasArts employees were trying to finish work on a downloadable multiplayer game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 called Star Wars: First Assault, a test bed for a possible Star Wars: Battlefront III, but Disney was still vacillating on whether or not to keep the studio open. “Fans should tell Disney/Lucas loud and clear they don’t want shitty titles from random developers; they want games to be taken seriously, and they will only pay for quality,” said a developer with the studio, “I believe that if Disney/Lucas lets LucasArts die, it means the death of Star Wars as a storied franchise is right behind it.”
The fate of games like Star Wars 1313 is up in the air. A Lucasfilm representative speaking with Game Informer said that the game might be handed off to another developer. Lucasarts did confirm to DT that its games currently on Steam will remain available.
“It is worth noting that we are looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans,” said Lucafilm, “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.”
“[Disney is] evaluating everything. There’s always a possibility that [Star Wars 1313] can still come out via licensing.”
We have reached out to LucasArts for further comment, and will update the article as new information becomes available.