When most people think of George Lucas, they are hurtled along a prestigious history of inspiration, creation, and creativity the likes of which have sparked the imaginations of millions around the world. Lucas, and his entities LucasFilms and LucasArts, have been responsible for some of the most innovative and groundbreaking creations in the past decades. Both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchise empires were birthed from the mind of Lucas, and their successes have been nearly unparalleled in modern culture. The Lucas empire stretches beyond movies, though. While LucasFilms is responsible for the classic films we all know and love, LucasArts has been supplying the gaming world with games as impressive as the movies.
But the empire could not last forever. Sad news rocked the gaming world this week, as Disney announced the closing of LucasArts, the studio tasked with the creation of video games under the Lucas license. Founded in 1982 by George Lucas, LucasArts has been producing a nearly never-ending stream of successful games through multiple franchises since the studio's inception. The studio has been responsible for countless high-end games for decades: the Money Island franchise, Star Wars: BattleFront, the Jedi Knight franchise, and countless other games. LucasArts was one of the driving forces in adventure games in the past few decades, and was responsible for many gaming innovations considered commonplace now.
LucasArts released this official statement concerning the closure of the studio,
"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 statement comes as little surprise to those who have followed the gaming giant over the past few years. LucasArts had suffered from a lack of strong direction and commercial success in recent memory, the crown jewel of let-down that was Star Wars: The Old Republic. Even though The Old Republic is finding a small resurgence after becoming free-to-play, the damage to LucasArts reputation and the pockets of investors was already done. On top of the failure of one of the most hyped releases in the company's history, many of the other long running franchises, particularly under the Star Wars banner (ie. Star Wars:BattleFront III), faced cancelation or stagnation as the company moved on to different projects.
While the past few years were not the best for LucasArts, there was at least one potential bright spot in the studio's now disbanded future. At E3 2012, one of the largest gaming and electronic expos in the world, LucasArts came out swinging with the preview to Star Wars 1313. Giving players a glimpse into the seedier, edgier corners of the Star Wars universe, 1313 was thought to be the spark needed to put LucasArts back in play. Hopes rose around the games release, and LucasArts seemed to rise from the quickly building ashes. With the closing of the studio, however, the future of these new games hangs in the balance until a new developer takes over the licenses. LucasArts will not only be losing the licenses to many legendary game series, but also almost the entire staff of the studio. Disney has announced the LucasArts will now be dedicated to licensing out the Star Wars names to other game makers, but this comes at a price. Of the nearly three hundred employed by LucasArts, over two-thirds are expected to be losing their jobs as the studio trims down to a skeleton of its former glory.
LucasArts has officially closed the doors on some of the most anticipated games in the near and moderate future, ending a spree of legendary game production over the past three-plus decades. While many may mourn the loss of such a talented studio, the greatest intrigue will come from the ashes of the studio. Who will be daring enough to take the reins of such challenging and demanding franchises as those created and held by LucasArts? The next few years will be one to watch for any Star Wars fan, as the gaming world far far away will see some new faces and changes.