The Walt Disney Company has shut down LucasArts and laid off all 150 of its staff members. Current projects Star Wars 1313 and the oft rumoured Star Wars: First Assault have been cancelled. This comes mere weeks after growing speculation that the development and publishing house’s future was looking grim.
This marks the end of LucasArts as an internal development studio. The company that brought us games like The Secret of Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Tie Fighter, Sam & Max, Day of the Tentacle and more began in 1982. That company is now officially dead, but the name LucasArts will continue to be used by Disney as they outsource further game development to other companies.
A representative from LucasFilm has revealed to GameInformer that outsourcing development of LucasArts IP will become the norm. This means that Star Wars games and the like will continue to be made and released, but they won’t be developed internally by LucasArts. It’s worth noting that this has been happening for quite some time already: Star Wars: The Old Republic was developed by BioWare, and the more recent MMO was developed and published by EA.
“We are looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans,” the LucasFilm representative told GameInformer. “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 it [Star Wars 1313] can still come out via licensing.”
While that sounds positive, a now ex-LucasArts employee has told Kotaku that the outsourcing option was pursued for some time, but with no success. “With the teams now basically being dispersed,” Kotaku’s source said, “I think both games [Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313] are effectively dead forever.”
Ex-LucasArts developer and industry veteran Tim Schafer has chimed in on the closure:
“Even though part of me felt this was coming, I’m still, somehow, shocked. I never thought that Lucas would actually shut down. I feel badly for all the talented people there. LucasArts was my first job in the industry. And sad to see all that history go away. And all that concept art. I’m going to be dumpster diving behind their offices for a while to see if I can find any old Full Throttle concept art.”
While it’s definitely an extremely sad day to see the 31 year old company shuttered, you kind of need to ask yourself what it is they’ve actually developed and released lately. The most recent LucasArts release was Kinect Star Wars – yeah, exactly. The saddest aspect of this news is the prospect of never getting to play Star Wars 1313. If that title can be saved by outsourcing to another developer and publisher, then the only reason to be depressed about all of this would be out of nostalgia.
I say this with a brave face mind you, because I still feel like a part of my gaming childhood has been snuffed out.
So long LucasArts, and thanks for all the SCUMM-fuelled joy, lightsaber fights and X-wing explosions. Some of my most cherished gaming memories are thanks to you guys.