Word surrounding LucasArts, the once dominant, but more recently dormant video game publishing and development arm of the house that Star Wars built, had not been good of late. After a strong showing at last year's E3 with an intriguing new Star Wars project, 1313, radio silence kicked in immediately following the sale of all things Lucasfilm to Disney late last year, and rumors began to swirl that the project was dead. That news has been all but confirmed, alongside news of the publisher's effective closing today, as announced by Disney in a brief statement.
"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."
LucasArts of the modern era hardly reflected its once dominant days as a publisher and development house. Apart from having total access to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises--for each of which it produced countless memorable games--it also held court as one of the great producers of adventure games back in the 1990s, hosting burgeoning talents like Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, who produced such classics as Grim Fandango and The Secret of Monkey Island.
Unfortunately, those days were largely in the past. Recent sequels in the Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed franchises failed to gain much momentum; EA's Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO ended up going free-to-play inside of it's one year anniversary; and the dismal Star Wars: Kinect is all but assured to be LucasArts' publishing swan song. Still, the company at least showed signs of life with an impressive demo of Star Wars: 1313 to select press at last year's E3. Though it was exceptionally early in development, it showed a great deal of promise, and seemed like just the kind of thing that could have renewed a bit of interest in Star Wars video gaming in the next console generation. Sadly, that was not to be. Layoffs have been reported at LucasArts, and it seems the brand is set to be little more than a publishing stamp to be attached to licensed products.
We'll bring you more on this as it becomes available.