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Disney buys LucasArts in surprise $4 billion deal
Disney buys LucasArts in surprise $4 billion deal
October 30, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi




Disney said on Tuesday that it will acquire the entirety of George Lucas' privately-owned Lucasfilm Ltd. -- including its video game publishing imprint, LucasArts -- for $4.05 billion in cash and stocks.

The deal includes everything Lucasfilm owns, including its technologies, its properties, and its IPs, including Star Wars, which will receive a 7th film installment in 2015.

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Lucas said in a statement. "It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."

Disney has for some time been reducing its interactive division to a mainly social gaming company, while LucasArts -- which recently lost its third president in four years -- is focusing on a "dark and mature" triple-A franchise.

That project is still on track for release, but looking ahead, Disney says it is more likely to focus on social and mobile for the Lucas IP in the future. Console games are still on the table, but "most likely in licensing rather than publishing," Disney CEO Robert Iger said in a conference call.


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Comments


Steve Fulton
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Wow. I'm blown away. Lucas is walking away from everything. Walking away with his pockets stuffed with cash and stock. Star Wars fans must have really hurt his feelings.

Tom Baird
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You can't really blame someone for walking away from an idea he started over 35 years ago. After a while you've really let the idea run it's course and it makes sense you'd want to simply move on to something else.

Steve Fulton
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I think he did the right thing. I look forward to Brad Bird and Joss Whedon directed sequels and re-imagined prequels.

warren blyth
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i'm crossing fingers for a David Fincher directed one. (drool)

Toby Grierson
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Or Robert Rodriguez's Sin Wars.

Alan Rimkeit
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Joe Johnson wants to make a Boba Fett movie. That is one I am so down for.

Benjamin Quintero
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Actually I am excited to see someone else finally have a chance to do the films justice. Let's face it, the last trilogy was garbage. The plot was swiss cheese and the characters were laughable. Selling out is the smartest thing I've heard him do in ages. There are so many books in this universe that were head and shoulders over the latest canon of Star Wars proper.

It will be interesting to see how Disney takes advantage of ILM, Lucas Arts, and other divisions of the estate. Hopefully they do the right thing and integrate all that talent with their other film studios.

[User Banned]
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John McMahon
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@Ben Why does it have to be a trilogy? Why can't a Star Wars story be one movie?

Mike Lopez
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Prediction: Jar-Jar Binks meets a grisly demise in the next Star Wars sequel.

Eric McVinney
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Make it happen!

Benjamin Quintero
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This alone would justify Disney's actions. If they are smart this will be Act 1 Scene 1. Though in all likelihood, he'll probably just burn off half his body in a lava pit and be made into some kind of Raiden metal gear with floppy swords for ears... Yeah that sounds like canon to me.

Matthew Mouras
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Yeah but Star Wars episodes 4 and 5 were for kids AND adults - no Jar-Jars required. It only started pandering once Lucas became more involved and added Ewoks in episode 6... and those cuddly miniature bears are brilliant and deep characters compared to Jar Jar.

Hunter Curren
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I like to think that he already has. In one of the prequels (I forget which) they make him a senator. At the start of Episode IV they mention that the Emperor dissolved the Senate. The only logical conclusion is that they 'took care of' Jar-Jar in the process.

Alan Rimkeit
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@Anthony Taylor - My daughter hates Jar Jar and has always thought he was lame. She is 13 now but she is a Star Wars fanatic. Hates Jar Jar she does. Loves the Clone Wars she does. Jar Jar is lame, like the Ewoks.

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Maria Jayne
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Hopefully Disney can produce a film better than the prequels. While Mr Lucas can enjoy his annex on Skywalker ranch with the profits.

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William Johnson
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What?! I thought Disney was dropping hardcore game development. That's why they closed Black Rock Studio.

I guess this is a "good" thing. There are a lot of talented people at Lucas Arts, and getting both the Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Indian Jones, etc licenses sounds like a "good" idea to me. But of course, my only fear is all the bureaucracy and red tape that comes with such a mega corporation might constrain creativity more then help flourish it.

Michael Wenk
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Actually the worry would be that Disney would just axe LA's game publishing. They don't really need two after all.

David Amador
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NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Matthew Mouras
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YESSSSSSS!!! Even in the hands of Disney, it's an improvement over being in the hands of Lucas.

Jane Castle
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I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1st.......

AJ S
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"In 2015, we're planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the "Disney-Lucasfilm" brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years."

[User Banned]
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Alan Rimkeit
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Holy crap. That is all I can say for now. My mind is stunned.....

EDIT: Does this mean Joe Johnson gets to make the Boba Fett movie now?

Aaron San Filippo
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Erm, Source link?

Stephen Horn
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http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/disney-news/press-releases/2012/1
0/disney-acquire-lucasfilm-ltd

Or a shorter url: http://goo.gl/5vHYn

And re-edited because not only does Gamasutra keep butchering the long url, but apparently I did too trying to correct it in Google's url shortener.

Allen Brooks
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It's probably futile, but I really, really, really hope this doesn't mean more layoffs at LucasArts.

Johnathon Swift
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Honestly, at this point more "Hiring Spree" is just as likely. There's not much of Lucasarts to strip out, and yet Star Wars 1313 has gotten people really excited, and Disney's been struggling with games for years now. A good brand that core games have been successfully built around is exactly what they've needed and what they now have.

Harlan Sumgui
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@JS
Disney won't be hiring. Their console games will be licensed. And as far as aaa mature game development, no way. 1313 will come out tho.

CGI animators will also feel a pinch, as m&a's like this always result in redundancies.

Keith Nemitz
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Here's my main concern. Lucas did one awesome thing other than SW and Indiana Jones, he let anybody produce non-commercial stories/movies/radio/... using the IP and distribute them. Remember the 'Troops' short? Things like that. Disney's not going to stand for them. So long fan made works.

Doug Poston
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That is interesting...

I wonder if Disney can/will make an exception for StarWars IP since that is very much part of its (StarWars') ecosystem.

(edit: I haven't heard of them cracking down on Marvel fans dressing up at cons. So maybe there's hope.)

Ardney Carter
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In all fairness Doug, cosplay is a far cry from developing serialized episodes based on an IP. It's a valid concern and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Makes me wish the I.M.P.S. guys were faster at finishing what they started ;(

(shameless plug: www.impstherelentless.com)

Doug Poston
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@Ardney: True. It's a very valid concern. I can see this going either way.

My hope comes from the fact that Disney *knows* StarWars fans better than almost anybody. They know better than to piss off a revenue stream.

Lucasfilms has a legal department that deals with fan generated content. As long as Disney keeps them around, they should be able to continue to allow fan generated work without giving up the IP they spent billions on.

In any case, if I was one of the I.M.P.S. guys I would be trying to make friends with Disney's legal department as quickly as possible. ;)

Joseph Willmon
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Disney is a legal company first and an entertainment company second. I'm sad to say it, but it's probably unlikely that Disney's team will perceive the long term value of a fan-driven ecosystem as being greater than the short term risk of allowing such works to continue.

Doug Poston
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@Joseph: Disney is a publicly traded company first.

They're also proven themselves adaptable over the last 100 years they've been in business.

Again, I can totally see them trying to shut down StarWars fans. But I'm hopeful that they'll at least try to adapt.

Lars Doucet
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The biggest thing I'm concerned about is the formation of the world's largest Copyright Vault all under one IP-maximalist roof.

Disney+Marvel+Pixar+LucasFilm

Disney is the chief driver of Copyright extensions, and that's an enormous amount of our artistic and cultural heritage that won't enter the public domain for at LEAST 100 years, and that's no exaggeration.

A real travesty, considering how many of those works were directly built off the public domain.

Bryan Provencher
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Don't forget the American Broadcasting Company.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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Meh. I make stuff so I've never really gotten the whole, "you don't deserve credit for what you make," or "everyone but you deserves to make money from your work," argument against copyright extension.

Lars Doucet
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@William

The ludicrous idea that copyright should extend 99 years after it's creator's death has nothing to do with incentivizing the creator of the work. Furthermore, copyright extensions often create the awesome situation where the *Actual* creator of a work can never use it again, but the company that winds up with the rights somehow can do whatever they want.

For instance, Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert will probably never get to make another Grim Fandango or Monkey Island game. If we had the original statutes for copyright limitation this country was founded with, in a few short years they could.

E Zachary Knight
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William,

Who was making that argument?

Ramon Carroll
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Lars,

This was the same thing that worried me when I first heard about it.

Anyone who doesn't think that the state of today's copyright laws is an absolute disaster doesn't really understand its history.

A W
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If Disney annexes Vivid video or Brazzers then the would have the full gambit of all entertainment from kid to adult. That's from a joking perspective, but the severity of the problem is real.

William Johnson
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@Jerry Shamblin
That's totally hypocritical for Disney since they made most of their money from public domain works.

Why is it okay for them to abuse fairy tales, classic literature, and other works in the public domain but not be willing to give it back to the public?

E Zachary Knight
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Jerry,

What William J is referring to is the fact that Disney is one of the largest drivers of copyright extensions that have a direct result of denying the the public domain of new material. The Contract between the public and creators is that we, the public, grant the creator a temporary monopoly over copying and distribution of their creation. In return the creator promises to give those creations to the public at the end of that term.

However, Disney has run roughshod over the public by unilaterally changing the contract without the public's input or support. This denies the public their right to an expanded culture.

See this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamboat_Willie#Copyright_status

Or This: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090811/0123105835.shtml

Lars Doucet
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@Jerry:

If, say, the Wizard of Oz had been created under the copyright laws that Disney lobbied for, it's copyright would not expire until 2018. (Frank L. Baum's death in 1919 + 99 years). MGM's classic movie adaptation would have had to pay huge royalties to the Baum estate, as would the broadway musical Wicked.

The copyright on Snow White from the Grimm's fairy tale version would not have expired until 1962. So Disney themselves could not have created Snow White if the copyright laws they lobbied for existed when that film was created (1937).

This is why we say Disney is hypocritical.

John Hahn
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@Jerry Shamblin
I think the overall point here is that Disney has acted in poor taste with regards to copyrights in the past. If you, as an artist, have made your billions by creative works derived from works in the public domain, and then you use your billions to lobby so that your works don't ever go into the public domain (in other words, you buy out the politicians and rig the system) then that is in poor taste.

And with regards to this statement:
"They are simply doing what all creators would be willing to do. They want to continue to own their property."
Believe it or not some people actually have hearts and a conscience, and they remember where they came from and want to give back so that a new generation of artists/designers/engineers can express themselves. Not everybody has the philosophy of Disney. Be careful when you use the word ALL. As an example: John Carmack. He has always converted his engines to open source after several years. He makes his millions and then gives his creation to the public in the end.

Ramon Carroll
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Jerry,

"They are simply doing what all creators would be willing to do. They want to continue to own their property."

That is not true at all. Many creators want the community to have access to their stuff, because it contributes to the society/culture. The silliness of today's copyright laws is the reason that the Creative Commons organization and the Remix Culture movement exists.

E Zachary Knight
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Jerry,

"In my opinion, copyright is flawed in that is strips the rights away from the property owner after a given time. IP should be treated as physical property. If a creator is to give up property, it should be given freely. What I do think is heartless and unconscionable, is when someone takes someone else's property and does whatever they want with it without regards to how it effects the rightful owners."

This is where we differ. Copyright has NEVER been meant to be a perpetual right. It has always been a limited monopoly. The US Constitution grants Congress the right to create copyrights and patents, but the terms are meant to be limited.

Even the Statute of Anne, which modern copyright was born from limited copyright terms to a maximum of 28 years.

The purpose of copyright is to provide a means for culture to be expanded, to thrive and grow. It was designed to give creators a limited monopoly on their works. These limits are both in time and reach.

Locking up culturally significant works behind copyright has been detrimental to preservation and expansion of culture. Think of all the films, books, radio broadcasts and music that have been lost to time because copyrights prevented the public from copyright and preserving them.

Even today, video games from as close as 20 years ago have been lost to time because of copyrights. While there are efforts from enthusiasts to preserve such games through emulators and ROMs, those actions are illegal. They could be sued, fined and jailed for preservation work. If left to the games industry, none of those games would ever see the light of day.

Ramon Carroll
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The subtle sarcasm and defensiveness in your tone indicates that you are offended. I’m not sure what, in any of my posts, brought this on, but in case anything I’ve said came off as rude, I sincerely apologize. I don’t know you, so I would have no basis for commenting on your character. I’m sure that you probably do care about society/culture, which is why I was hoping to appeal to that side of you. If you feel that I was passing judgment on you, I can assure you that it was not intended.

John Hahn
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"In my opinion, copyright is flawed in that is strips the rights away from the property owner after a given time. IP should be treated as physical property. If a creator is to give up property, it should be given freely. What I do think is heartless and unconscionable, is when someone takes someone else's property and does whatever they want with it without regards to how it effects the rightful owners."

Anybody who says that obviously doesn't care about these classic video game preservation efforts. If a company has an IP that they clearly have no intention of ever doing anything with again, hoarding that IP forever just so that nobody else can do anything with it is pretty rediculous.

That actually has great relevance to this acquisition because LucasArts has a classic catalog of many beloved game IPs that have a cult following. LucasArts is a tiny drop in the bucket for a giant international conglomerate like Disney, and it's obvious the only part of Lucas that Disney really cares about is Star Wars, so most likely all these beloved classic IP copyrights are just going to be hoarded away and left to collect mildew and dust. To me, that is a tragedy.

John Hahn
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@Jerry Shamblin
I know you asked someone else the question about what copyrights should be, but I have a partial answer. I think there should be an "abandonware" clause in copyright laws somewhere. If you own an IP and you choose to do nothing with it for X amount of time, let's say 20 or 25 years maybe, then it's released to the public domain. I think sometimes companies have these old IPs that they no longer care about and probably wouldn't mind releasing to the public domain, but it's simply not worth their time to pay their lawyers to fill out the required paperwork or whatever. This would fix that problem. Plus, if you haven't touched an IP in a quarter of a century then it's fair to say you aren't going to be financially ruined or damaged as a result.

Soren Nowak
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I hope this somehow brings back Tie Fighter and iMUSE. That would be true magic.

Ardney Carter
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This right here! Tie Fighter needs a sequel/reboot/whatever so badly :(

Johnathon Swift
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The best possible thing that can come out of this is a Joss Whedon directed Star Wars. Can you imagine? Do you even have the POWER to imagine how awesome that could be?

Mike Griffin
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Disney certainly has some mad ca$h to toss at enormous properties.

Jeff Degginger
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http://expositoryconundrum.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/news-response
-disney-buying-lucasarts-and-how-it-affects-you/

Here's my response: This is a good thing.

John Flush
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Wow - just wow. Does this mean Star Wars items, not produced and funded by Disney are done? Does EA and Bioware have to back off the Star Wars The Old Republic? What about the books? crazy.

As far as games good this is probably a good thing? I'm not sure, if you say Disney and games I can't think of a single thing I'm interested in either though (I know there are some Kingdom Hearts people and such out there).

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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To be fair, EA and Bioware were already backing off of SWTOR.

This is great news IMO. The further Lucas is from SW movies and content, the better it is.

For games... well I haven't played a non-meh Star Wars game since last gen so at worst, things will stay the same. At best Disney will farm the brand out to everyone and somewhere within the clunkers we'll get some gems.

Mark Fronstin
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Disney could pull the Star Wars license from EA. The news over the last few months from BioWare is starting to make sense.

Jeremy Alessi
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This is outrageous ... almost unbelievable. It just goes to show how much our world is changing. Lots of disruption!

TC Weidner
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Well Im torn, but to be honest Lucas arts best days artistically in my opinion are well behind it. Not sure what happened. Money and success and all that goes with it Im not sure is great for any artist.

Its why the greatest rock bands are young, angry and broke artist, not over indulgent middle aged babied millionaires.

Bruno Xavier
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Sad. Marvel Comics, now this.
Is money never enough??

Luis Blondet
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Star Wars fans: Brace yourself, Cease and Desist letters are coming.

Justin Sawchuk
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I wonder where they are going to go with episode 7. I hope they go after grand admiral thrawn.

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John McMahon
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Will Disney throw out all the Star Wars expanded universe (post episode 6) content and start a new? Or will they re-tell those stories on a smaller scale (budget reasons)?

Additionally, they could just tell a whole new story that isn't conflicting with the Expanded Universe material. Which would be a harder thing to achieve.

EDIT: Yeah, Gamasutra finally lets me comment on this article.

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Jack Young
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It would be nice to see revisits to past LA products, updated for Win 8 and improved for a modern consumer. X-Wing, Dark Forces, SWG etc..

Chris Melby
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I liked the update part, but I'm not really into the Win 8 part.

What defines a modern consumer? :O

I'd be completely into an updated X-Wing, but only if it still favored the PC.

Jack Young
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OK, I'll avoid the Market Research end of that and say New Graphics & Physics Engines. LOL I only ment that all of those games will not run on the new OS's so make them compatible.

Greg Quinn
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Nice little retirement package you got there George.
Well done and thanks for bringing us such a great franchise.

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wes bogdan
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Remember star wars can now join hingdom hearts and they can throw out heyblades for keysabers!!

Raymond Grier
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"Console games are still on the table, but "most likely in licensing rather than publishing," Disney CEO Robert Iger said in a conference call. "

Considering how poorly Disney's team handled the TRON:LEGACY game, they might want to reconsider this.

wes bogdan
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Wayforward would've made a better tron game than whoever got tapped or maybee it was like robocop 2 and every disney esec put their 2 cents in restricting the team to put every idea in no matter if it made sense or fit the game.


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