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Disney shuts down LucasArts development

Layoffs across Star Wars studio as focus shifts from making games to licensing brands

Last month, GamesIndustry International reported on the possible closure of Star Wars developer LucasArts. At the time, a representative said it was "one hundred percent not true" that LucasArts was headed for a shutdown, and that "everything is moving ahead."

That denial may have been rooted in semantics, as LucasArts today confirmed that it has brought its development business to a halt and instituted a round of company-wide layoffs.

"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," a representative said. "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."

A LucasArts representative did tell us that a small number of staffers would stay on board to handle the licensing duties, and that some of the other affected developers will be moving to work elsewhere at Disney Interactive. As for in-development projects, the rep would not confirm cancellations, saying only that the company was "evaluating everything."

LucasArts has been licensing out its brands for years, with Star Wars: The Old Republic, Kinect Star Wars, and the Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones games among the most notable efforts from external developers. Internally, the company's production had slowed down in recent years. It developed both Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games and had been working on the next-gen Star Wars: 1313.

Today's move was foreshadowed in October, when Disney acquired LucasArts parent company LucasFilm. At the time, Disney executives said the plan for LucasArts was to focus more on social and mobile than console games, and to work more through licensing games to others than publishing themselves.

If you have jobs news to share or a new hire you want to shout about, please contact us on newhires@gamesindustry.biz

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Latest comments (23)

Joe Tay Senior Architect - Infra and Ops, Electronic Arts3 years ago
Good luck to all the folks in LucasArts. The games from LucasArts has brought much joy to me in my youth. It is sad that LucasArts is being viewed as just creative licensing of Star Wars whereas there was a lot of creative talents in the industry that came from LucasArts beyond Star Wars.
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Andrew Clayton QA Weapons Tester, Electronic Arts3 years ago
Good luck to everyone there. It's a tough job market right now.
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Jeff Wayne Technical Architect 3 years ago
Awful news. Was hoping some day to see the legendary X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter series rekindled. Best of luck to all affected.
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Show all comments (23)
Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus3 years ago
Awful news, and I hate to admit that it was inevitable. Disney really sold this hand years before, when they started shutting down other developers in favour of mobile; once they bought Lucas out, the writing wasn't just on the wall, it was in bright neon lights. Epic Mickey 2's failure cemented it; it proved to the suits that AAA isn't worth the risk. Now, LucasArts and Junction Point are both dead.
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
Tragic really.
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K. Al-Hurby Producer/Designer 3 years ago
Thank you Disney...

Anything else you want to kill from my childhood?

All the best to those affected, I truly am gutted that your studio has closed - some of my most iconic and memorable gaming experiences came from Lucas Arts. So, so sad. :(

Edited 2 times. Last edit by K. Al-Hurby on 3rd April 2013 9:04pm

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Tom Keresztes Programmer 3 years ago
Those people who worked on those games left LA a decade ago, released Star Trek : Bridge Commander as Totally Games. I feel sorry for the people affected, but this LucasArts had very little to do with any decent Star Wars games.
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Tomas Roller Bohemia Interactive, 2K Czech3 years ago
LucasArts' line up-until the early 2000s was nothing short of stellar and is largely responsible for my career decision. It's a shame Disney did not try first to dispose management obsessed with the rabid milking of the Star Wars brand in the last dozen years or so. One kept hoping for reinvention of the bold spirit that made Grim Fandango, Monkey Island, Days of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, X-wing and the likes possible. Thank you for the memories and inspiration.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Tomas Roller on 3rd April 2013 9:52pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
Um... soooo, I guess any upcoming SW games based on those new flicks will be... social and/or mobile only?

Meesa gotsa beeeeeg hedake!

Shoot me now, Han. Shoot me now.
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Anthony Chan3 years ago
I agree with Tom. LucasArts after 2000, designed games that were grand in concept, but the end product never really delivered.
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Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London3 years ago
This is not the news I am looking for.
May the luck be with you to all guys now in the dark side
And the best comment award goes to!

It's a shame to see these guys go, Monkey Island was one of the best experiences I've had with games. I can't say I had much respect for what Lucas was in the past 10 or so years, but they've contributed a lot to gaming during their golden era, best wishes to the ones affected.
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robert troughton Managing Director, Coconut Lizard3 years ago
Really sad news - but I know that my friends there will all find good homes.

Anyone there who hasn't found a home yet - drop me an email...
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 3 years ago
Sad to say but I assumed this would happen as soon as news hit that Disney bought Lucas Arts

These days it seems studios are seen as extra baggage or a free bonus thrown on the side when you buy the premium version of an IP/Franchise. I'm quite surprised the studios auctioned off by THQ are still in one piece but only time will tell I suppose

Best of luck to those affected.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
Well theres goes my hope for a proper Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 3.
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Stephan Schwabe Multichannelmanagement, Telefonica3 years ago
So sad that so many companys in this business take zero responsibility for ther employee's..
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Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe3 years ago
I think this could backfire for the Star Wars IP. On the one hand they might have cancelled this stuff to streamline everything with the upcoming movies (characters, setting, story, canon, etc). However if Disney studios messes up any new game they'll greatly damage the IP. We all know how horrible almost all Movie to Game adaptions turned out. The new games need to have a high level of quality and should be properly split between casuals/family and high entertainment/hardcore games. Knowing Disney games I am of low hope. Movie wise they have done many good things in the recent past
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Good luck to all who lost their jobs. In the short term it sucks, but the medium to long term will be much brighter. Look forward to seeing some of the guys start their own companies from this as well.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
Very sad. Here's to all those affected. There WILL be light at the end of that tunnel, however long it takes.
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Joseph Harvey Department head, Firelight Technologies3 years ago
"Semantics?" I find it incredible that such a drastic difference between that "100% not true" announcement and this outcome could have originated in a difference of word interpretation. I'd thought that kind of discrepancy would require a lack of communication, or deliberate deception, but I guess neither is particularly likely.
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Saehoon Lee Founder & CEO, Pixellore3 years ago
"NOoooooooooooooooooooooo"
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game3 years ago
I didn't understand why Disney bought the game studio, when they have shown every indication of getting out of traditional games. Clearly they wanted full rights on Star Wars and Indy secured, but that could have been handled by licencing the IP for the games already in production, with full rights reverting to Disney afterwards.

It is tragic, but unfortunately not surprising.

What are the chances of them selling Monkey Island to Double Fine for a song? I'm guessing very small.
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Dean Hulton Founder & Creative Director, BlueBlaze Studio3 years ago
I hate studio closures, It always sucks to hear that talented people are out of work and I was personal looking forward to 1313.

Our first title is about to go into development at BlueBlaze Studio, a small Indie start up in the UK. If any of you guys that are affected by the closure fancy a complete change of scenery I would be happy to hear from you.

DeanHulton@BlueBlazeStudio.com

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Dean Hulton on 9th April 2013 10:42pm

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Gjorevski Saso Graphic Designer 3 years ago
I still remember Jedi Academy, Dark Forces and some other cool great games. I think LucasArts had some good success in gaming industry but with time they ignored what made them great in the first place,totally.
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