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Game Informer has learned that Disney is closing its LucasArts game publishing subsidiary. We received an email from a LucasArts representative confirming the news.
The official statement 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."
In some ways, the news is not a surprise. LucasArts had seemed directionless in recent years. The company's core business of games based on the Star Wars license have been largely disappointing in both quality and sales. While the company had some success with games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the Battlefront series, both of those franchises seemed to have died on the vine. The cancellation of Star Wars Battlefront III was particularly ugly, which led to nasty public fingerpointing between LucasArts and developer Free Radical. The BioWare developed MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic (which was co-published with EA) won strong reviews but failed to maintain subscribers, and was eventually forced into instituting a free-to-play business model.
Ironically, many of the games for which LucasArts is best remembered for are not Star Wars games. Its genre-defining '90s adventure games created by Ron Gilbert and DoubleFine's Tim Schafer like The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and Grim Fandango are all still celebrated by fans to this day.
While I've been pretty disappointed with the direction the company had taken with the years, I can't help but feel extremely saddened by this news. Good luck to everyone affected by the layoffs.