Today many across the gaming community are mourning the death of an icon. As was reported yesterday, Disney has closed the doors to its LucasArts game publishing subsidiary and leaving 150 people without a job after cementing the companies place in video game history over a 30 year run. Here is the official Disney 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.”
This is a real shame, especially with the recent news of the Cartoon Network Clone Wars being canceled…I’m sure many are starting to feel like the Disney “fangs” are beginning to come out. I hate to say it, but I actually agree with the move by Disney. Yes, LucasArts “WAS” a great game developer…even going back to the SNES, N64, PS1, and Gamecube days.
How about the first time we played on the original PlayStation, a little gem titled Star Wars Rebel Assault? Now that game was a BLAST! For the first time EVER in a game we were watching REAL film scenes within a game. Truly groundbreaking for it’s time. Star Wars Dark Forces was another feather in the early day’s of LucasArts hat as well.
I remember when the N64 hit and I checked out for the first time the famous Hoth battle on N64 Rogue Squadron and I could hardly focus on flying around a giant AT AT with my harpoon cable and keeping my jaw off the floor at the same time. I think the Gamecube sequel was actually one of the best launch games in Nintendo’s history and really showed the world just how powerful that little Gamecube was.
Fast forward to the Xbox and PS2 era, LucasArts introduced to the world what many believe as the developers finest hour…Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic and Star Wars Battlefront. This era was the top of the mountain for the company sadly…before the dark days when the downward spiral of mediocre titles started to be released. Year after year with the exception of Star Wars Republic Commando, The Force Unleashed part one and the recent PC MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, most games under the LucasArts stamp earned average reviews at best. Even the much hyped Indiana Jones and The Staff Of Kings was a glorified shit fest of a gaming experience that not even Dr. Jones himself could rescue.
I think for many, the writing was starting to appear on the walls when the nasty split of LucasArts and developer Free Radical began after the cancellation of the Star Wars Battlefront 3. Seemed after that and the disappointing sales of the subscriptions for the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic (even the free to play was not as successful as they had wanted) the company just seemed to disappear.
I think for me personally, after playing the epic sci-fi Mass Effect series and the Indiana Jones inspired Uncharted series I knew that ultimately, LucasArts had failed not just gamers, but Star Wars fans as well.How could a company with the brand name of “Lucas” and “Star Wars” drop the ball so quickly? Even the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 which had won several Best At E3 awards was a huge disappointment that was over in 4 hours and got massacred by reviews.
Moving forward, I think that the future of Star Wars and gamers is bright. All one needs to do is look at how successful developer Travelers Tales has been with their Indiana Jones and Star Wars LEGO series.
In addition,it looks as if we still could be getting our hands on popular next generation Star Wars 1313 game as well.Here is what a LucasArts spokesperson recently said on the games possibility of getting released…
“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.”
Today, we will mourn and honor the death of a gaming icon known by two simple words…LucasArts and wish the laid off employees the best of luck. As for the future? Just like the rebel alliance, there is still hope of playing some great Star Wars games down the road in hopefully a galaxy not too far away. We shall see, until that day comes…may the force be with us all.