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The LucasArts you knew is no more
The LucasArts you knew is no more
April 3, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

April 3, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
Comments
    56 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



The video game developer and publisher that brought out classics like The Secret of Monkey Island and many games in the Star Wars universe is, effectively, no more.

LucasArts' new owner, the Walt Disney Company, is shutting down all internal development at the company and seemingly turning it into a licensing house for its existing properties, according to an official statement.

The titles it had in development, including two Star Wars games, have been cancelled, and many employees -- it's not clear how many, though rumors say 150, the majority of the staff -- are now out of work.

The statement in full 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."

The shutdown had been rumored for some time now, though the LucasArts developers we spoke to during GDC seemed hopeful that operations would continue.

It is unclear exactly what is left of LucasArts at this point, but we're following up to hopefully find out.


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Comments


A W
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"Some 150 people were laid off..."- Kotaku Source.

that's not several.

Michael Hahn
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Sad News, I remember my first internet multiplayer game. Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2. I did great things with that game, I created a tournament site, became popular and a fixture in the game industry. I learned how to build maps too for that game, I made over 50.

I hope everyone who lost their job finds work quickly. Sad we wont see the titles in development made.

Michael G
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1313's been in development for a while, they'll probably license it off to someone else. Maybe that studio can hire some of these people that Disney cast aside like a masticated Pluto toy.

Caleb Garner
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word is that 1313 is likely to not be licensed / continued in any fashion according to "inside sources" i read somewhere. i wonder with the plans of the new films and such that the 1313 game were at odds with each other on some level in disney's mind.

TC Weidner
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Sad News, during the early 90s, they were among, if not the best, in entertainment pc software IMHO.

Chris Melby
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My feelings also. Loom, MI 1/2, X-wing sit on my shelf and I own every game they've made from that era -- still have the orignal disks/CDs; at one time had all the boxes.

Sad to see them go, as it means people are out of work. Glad to see this article used the old logo though.

Gonzalo Daniel
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Dark day for videogames... Full Throttle... Grim Fandango... those were the days.

Joshua Griffiths
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Lucasarts died when Tim Schafer left and they stopped making games other than Star Wars. Still, sad to hear about those who lost their jobs. I wish them the best of luck.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutras Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Kyle Johnson
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Jeez game industry publishers, get a grip. First Square Enix and High Moon and now LucasArts. Your bloated annual expectation have the tail wagging the dog. People are your greatest asset and best chance for long term growth. Unfortunately, todays game industry publishers concentrate on a quick buck. They do this by exploiting their employees and reskinning the same old games. How do you expect to hire talent when your track record shows that even though you tell an interviewee they have a future at your company, you'll actually lay them off after the project has wrapped. I will say this in your favor though Mr. Publisher. I'm very happy to see your actions directly benefit the indie community!

Wylie Garvin
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Actually, the industry doesn't really "reskin the same old games"... It's worse than that. We repeatedly build, from scratch, and at ever greater expense, slight variations on those same old games.

Lars Kokemohr
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I think it's not as simple as that. We tend to think that we just repeat the same games over and over because we focus on things like traditional gameplay.
As much as we loathe it, things like better graphics and better monetarisation are a notable improvement.

I guess the reason why we focus on gameplay is because we grew up with established media like music or theatre. Even the youngest medium, the movies, is about 100 years old.

If you look at the path these media had to take you will find similarities. E.g. music in early Baroque revolved around effects like imitating bird voices and "shiny graphics" like symmetry in the composition.
When we look at that epoque today, all we see is the greatest works of single composers like Bach while ignoring that we are looking at a time period of about 100 years.

Mozart is well known for whining about having to do mundane compositions just to make money, just like many companies today have to do highly monetized games in order to stay alive.

Just like Kyle said in the last sentence, I too hope that we will see interesting works by indie developers, especially now that the financially viable way is not the way most developers want to take.

Jason Weesner
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Not trying to burn any bridges here, but here's how MOST (not all) traditional video game publishers work:

Step 1. Publisher farms projects out to external developers.
Step 2. Publisher decides that they don't have enough control over external developers so they either buy them or take away their projects.
Step 3. Publisher decides that internal development is better because they will have more control over the projects.
Step 4. Publisher decides that internal development and acquired external developers cost too much money and shuts it all down.
Step 5. Go to Step 1.

I'm really hoping that models like crowdsourcing will place more power in the hands of game creators and their audience. The current publishing model clearly doesn't work for the industry as a whole if there's this cyclical purge of talented developers.

Best of luck to everybody who was laid off from Square, LucasArts, and High Moon Studios this week!

Christopher Karpyszyn
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This is very unfortunate. Star Wars 1313 looked promising and one would figure they would try to finish it off before shutting down development.

Alex Boccia
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Greed will kill the games industry just like it did to the record industry.

Merc Hoffner
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Brains would save the industry. Lack thereof is killing it.

Christian Philippe Guay
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Looks already half dead to me.

Gil Salvado
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Greed will kill the mainstream industry, but it will gives indies just a hard time.

William Pitts
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There are a litany of studio closures over the past few years, the real question is where does the talent go from there?

Joe E
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if they're anything like me (with a family and in need of steady income) they eventually get fed up and leave the games industry.

Rob Wright
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I know signs have been pointing in this direction for some time but...I find this odd. Yes, LucasArts has had a tough run the last few years, but with the new Star Wars movies getting the greenlight, I thought for sure that Disney would want to capitalize on it with new games. They can still license games to third parties, of course, but....we've all seen how licensed properties tend to turn out.

Carlo Delallana
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Lego Star Wars says hello. Traveller's Tales did a great job with not one but two licenses in one game.

Rob Wright
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True, but with all due respect to Traveller's Tales, BioWare and others that have developed Satr Wars games, the ratio of success to failure of licensed games overall is tilted in the wrong direction. Disney would have been better off keeping LucasArts going to help developer/oversee the new Star Wars games rather than simply outsource everything to a new publisher/developer, cash the check and then hope for the best.

David Mullich
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It was inevitable that Disney would fold the development and publishing of Star Wars games into its Southern California operations, but still, I feel a disturbance in the force, as if hundreds of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Hopefully, they won't be silenced but will land on their feet elsewhere. But, man, I remember when LucasFilm Games first introduced themselves with Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus. It's sad to see them go.

Michael Ball
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LucasArts was dead to me the moment they cancelled Sam & Max: Freelance Police several months before its release.

john stark
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I am not sad. They didn t do anything outstanding for a very long time. The masterminds behind Lucas Arts great games are long gone.

All the hopes for 1313 ? Come on guys, you saw the Aliens Colonel Marines E3 demo years ago, looked great, neh ? 1313 was 100% made for E3, it was was too polished to be early pre alpha or alike

Mac Senour
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I completely agree. And in a couple of people's case: Karma comes around eventually and bites you. NOW try to find a job with that rep you made.

Keith Nemitz
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Maybe it's time for a SF bay area "Indie Boot Camp".

Aaron Fowler
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I have some really fond memories of playing games from Lucas Arts.

I hope all of those who were let go are able to find work again soon!

E Zachary Knight
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My only request. Release the entire LucasArts back catalog on GOG.com. I will buy every single adventure game on day one.

Ian Uniacke
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I second this great idea. :)

Rachel Presser
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Thirded, if such a word exists!

Scott Jordan
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Poor Disney.

It's so hard and risky to make quality movies they had to buy Pixar.

It's so hard and risky to make quality games they had to close Lucas Arts.

They could probably save a lot of money and risk if they license Disneyland out to Universal.

Christiaan Moleman
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This joke is somewhat undercut by Tangled being amazing.

Gil Salvado
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But it ain't like Tangled was made years after Pixar's purchase.

Christiaan Moleman
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Fair point. It's still a Disney film though and very much Glen Keane's baby. Apart from John Kars, one of the animation supervisors, I'm not aware of any Pixar people involved with the film, unless you count John Lasseter and Ed Catmul running the company.

My point is, the team at Disney deserves credit for Tangled, not Pixar.

I digress, but I think it's possible to criticize Disney without throwing everyone who works there under the bus.

William Johnson
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Well, there were a lot of signs. Disney closing down Black Rock and Junction Point and saying they were leaving the core gaming market, it was pretty obvious they had no intention of actually using Lucas Arts to make games.

Still disappointing. I just had this small hope that maybe...just maybe with the right management and free from George Lucas, Lucas Arts could still make good games. Maybe an awesome game about being a wookie and ripping people's arms off...

Jeferson Soler
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@ William Johnson - Believe it or not, LucasArts was much safer under Lucas himself than under Disney. George Lucas may not be perfect, but to think that things would be OK under the Disney leadership would be delusional at best. Like you said, Disney shutting down two studios (especially Junction Point and without giving it another chance) was a huge sign of its true intentions, but even before that, I myself was concerned at how Disney would treat the Lucas studios that it acquired and I wouldn't be surprised if others had similar suspicions. Although, I'll admit that I wasn't expecting for Disney to go as far as shutting the internal development of LucasArts. Can you imagine what would happen if Disney suddenly did the same thing with Marvel and how the fans would react? Then again, there would be people that would think Marvel getting screwed over by Disney would be poetic justice.

William Johnson
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I don't know. Disney has done some pretty awesome and experimental animations more recently.

Like Paperman
http://www.disneyanimation.com/projects/paperman

And Adam and Dog
http://adamanddog.tumblr.com/

They use to have these two shorts on their youtube page, but it looks like they took them down. Anyway, the point is Disney does seem to be trying to bring back some artistry back in to their medium, and I was personally hoping that maybe they'd do it for their video games too. But I have a feeling Disney may not consider video games to be as artistic as animation.

Jeferson Soler
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@ William Johnson - Valid points, but when I refer to Disney in the manner that I did, I tend to refer more to the higher-ups in charge of Disney. In case of the creative talents, they have heart and passion for the work that they do and they are one of the reasons (if not, the main reason) that I'm not anti-Disney and the same is true for Warner Bros. However, that doesn't change that the top brass is a problem for Disney as the higher-ups will be more worried money than how to really make money (especially by taking risks). Like him or don't like him, Walt Disney was (at least) a risk taker and that's how he got things going in the early years of his company, but the current higher-ups are questionable at best with their moves and motives. I should have known better that Eisner no longer being in charge of Disney wouldn't mean that things would be kosher with Disney. If it wasn't for the creative forces behind Disney and their allies, things would have been less than bearable when it came to the company and what it releases. That reminds me, Capcom is planning to release the remastered version of the NES classic Disney game, Duck Tales.

Christopher Thigpen
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I always knew that Disney was Sith.

Craig Hauser
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The thing about the Disney purchase I feared most has come to pass.

Nate Anonymous
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While I am sad about anyone being laid off, I can't say I am terribly broken up about LucasArts being shuttered. LA has not produced a great game since tie fighter and has not produced a good Star Wars game since Jedi Knight. The best stuff recently has been done by Bioware, so licensing will not doom the ip to trash if they partner up with the right devs (Bethesda, Bungie, and maybe activision/blizzard)

Eventually product quality catches up with you. If Lucas arts had been the same company it had been in the 90s, Disney would have kept them around or at the very least sold the studio to a pub.

A W
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I'm kinda hoping Disney doesn't sign any contracts with those companies you listed to get a Starwars game. I would rather them seek out independant talent. Let a unknow shine for a while. Besides one of those companies on you list just kinda swore off of movie tie licences games.

Rachel Presser
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Maybe I'm just being a cockeyed optimist for once but...

...if Disney is just going to use LucasArts as a licensing house, does this mean there's a chance Double Fine could license out Full Throttle or even Monkey Island? To have the original creators work on them, have the Full Throttle sequel that never saw the light of day come to pass. Maybe Disney won't be as recalcitrant with the IP as LucasArts' management had been.

But yeah, I think we saw this coming. Best of luck to the laid-off workers.

Arseniy Shved
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Such a possibility exists, but consider Tim Shafer's words: "So if I did a sequel to any of the games I had before, it would have prevented one of the [new games]... if I did a sequel to Full Throttle there wouldn't have been Grim Fandango, and so on and so on down the line"

Full interview is here: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a363781/psychonauts-2-pit
ched-several-times-says-tim-schafer.html#ixzz2PSfIEVFp

Gil Salvado
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That's tough. So, Star Wars 1313 is canceled? Let's see how Disney is going to manage the future of this franchise.

Soren Nowak
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So 1313 was one of the cancelled SW titles but what was the other one?

My hopes of seeing a new Tie Fighter game seems far far away...

Gary LaRochelle
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Star Wars: First Assault

Christiaan Moleman
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Sad to hear of Lucasarts' demise. They made some incredible games.

Phil Maxey
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I find it hard to believe that there won't be a shed load of SW games on the horizon, it's just they wont' be done in-house.

Nooh Ha
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What was the last really decent game made by LucasArts?

Genuine question. not trolling.

Gavin Koh
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And meanwhile in our local news, here's what they had to say about the shutting down of LucasArts in Singapore:

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/lay-offs-spore-after-disney-
closes-lucasarts
http://sg.news.yahoo.com/lucasfilm-lays-off-games-staff-in-singap
ore-and-elsewhere-112731442.html


Looks like 2013 is turning out to be three times unlucky for people, especially those who were working on Star Wars 1313.

William Johnson
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Sad, I've followed a few people from Lucas Arts Singapore, and they did amazing work.

Dean Boytor
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If anyone is interested or curious.

PCgamer dot com[1] released source code for jedi knight 2 and jedi accdemy.

Its pretty neat to look through if your into looking through code just to see how it works ^^

1. http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/04/04/raven-salutes-lucasarts-with-re
lease-of-jedi-knight-ii-source-code/

Matt Cratty
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They were great game makers back in the 90s and maybe into the very early 200s.

Its still awful to hear of that many people losing their jobs in the industry. This kind if insecurity is what finally drove me out.


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