It’s been often wondered since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the announcement of new Star Wars movies whether or not the company would revive or ultimately ruin this beloved franchise. That answer is not yet known, and will not be known for a while—at least not until we see what they do with Star Wars Episode VII. But no matter what happens with the movies, fans have known that some things would be changing…things that they might not necessarily be happy about.
The first notable change that upset certain fans was the cancellation of The Clone Wars, the popular animated series on Cartoon Network. Now comes a painful strike to gamers, as Disney has decided to close down LucasArts, the video game development and publishing division responsible for Star Wars titles such as Knights of the Old Republic, Battlefront, and The Force Unleashed, as well as some non-Star Wars games like the Monkey Island series.
So what does this mean for the future of these game properties and highly anticipated future games like Star Wars 1313?
Here’s a statement from a LucasArts representative on the decision:
“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.”
Though this is sad news for longtime fans of LucasArts, it’s not that shocking considering their recent games. The Force Unleashed releases were about as good as their games got in the past handful of years or so, and even those were only decent. Their final game was Kinect Star Wars, which was…well, it was pretty awful.
But last June at E3 a new game appeared, and had fans of Star Wars video games feeling something they maybe haven’t felt in a while: excitement. The game is the aforementioned Star Wars 1313, and watching the brief videos they showed for it, you can see exactly why people were so excited.
Does Disney’s closure of LucasArts mean Star Wars 1313 is now dead? Perhaps not.
According to a Game Informer chat with a rep from Lucasfilm, this does not necessarily mean the end of not only 1313, but other LucasArts properties as well.
As you read in the statement above, the decision is not to dump LucasArts and everything it’s been working on into the garbage and move on. The decision is to stop spending money on developing and publishing all of their games, and instead focusing on licensing out their properties to other companies to make.
Here’s what the rep said:
“All of these things happened at once. Naturally, as any company that goes through a big announcement like this, you have to look through your whole portfolio and realign some things. 1313 was looking fantastic, the reception has been great. Our other unannounced titles are fine, it just got to a point where from a business standpoint we couldn’t continue developing those internally and keep up with the direction that the company was going.
It is worth noting that we are looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans. 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.
It’s super sad. It’s a terrible day. I want to make sure everyone realizes that there still will be Star Wars games out there.”
Now we just need to wonder who will be interested in working with Lucasfilm to make their games, and which games will still find their way to the light of day.
If you had your choice of which game companies could take on one of the LucasArts games, who would make what? The obvious ones are of course finding a way to get Tim Schafer and Double Fine working on more Monkey Island games and other popular titles he’s worked on for LucasArts in the past, and BioWare already has their MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, so they too could be a great option for a future game.
But there’s plenty of other cool dream scenarios. A huge new Star Wars RPG made by Bethesda? A new Indiana Jones game made closer to the style of Uncharted and the new Tomb Raider—two franchises that were inspired by Indiana Jones in the first place?
Which game company do you want to see making what LucasArts game?