There has been a great disturbance in the LucasArts force. President Paul Meegan has stepped down as president of the studio.
Once upon a time, LucasArts was considered as groundbreaking a video game studio as Industrial Light and Magic was a special effects house. Its adventure games like Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis redefined a genre, while PC shooters like X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter pushed the technological boundaries of polygonal game design in the late ‘90s. That was a long time ago though, and while the company still comes up with the occasional would-be blockbuster like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and its custom physics engine Ronin, its days as a trailblazer are over.
Star Wars 1313 creative director Dominic Robilliard told Digital Trends that LucasArts is coming out of a state of flux and that it’s stronger thanks to Paul Meegan. “The reason it’s taken a few years [for LucasArts] to get something out that we can show is we’ve completely changed the way we’re making games here. Our current president, Paul Meegan, is the first executive I’ve worked for who used to be a developer. So he’s a game designer and he’s risen up through the ranks as an entrepreneurial game developer,” said Robilliard.
That era lasted just two years from when Meegan joined the company from his former post with Epic China. He and LucasArts announced the departure on Friday.
“LucasArts has come a long way and I’m extremely proud of what the teams have accomplished,” said Meegan in a statement, “We had a great E3 with Star Wars 1313, and have other exciting projects in the works. It’s been a privilege to be a part of Lucasfilm.”
LucasArts promises that Meegan’s leaving the company won’t effect any games currently in production, including the much hyped 1313. Developers still working within LucasArts couldn’t be blamed for worrying though. The corporate culture at the studio has been unhealthy for years now. Eurogamer’s May article Free Radical vs. the Monsters chronicled how that studio was brought to bankruptcy and closure due to the instability of LucasArts’ corporate hierarchy while it attempted to finish the cancelled Star Wars: Battlefront III.
Meegan also isn’t the first high profile figure to leave LucasArts this year. Far Cry 2 director Clint Hocking joined LucasArts in 2010 alongside Meegan but left the company at the beginning of July for a position with Valve.
Robilliard indicated that LucasArts was stabilizing and was ready to be a creative force in gaming again. With this many crewmen abandoning ship though, it’s hard not to think it’s still sinking.