‘Psychopaths’ At LucasArts Led To Cancellation Of Star Wars: Battlefront III, Former Studio Exec Says

‘Psychopaths’ At LucasArts Led To Cancellation Of Star Wars: Battlefront III, Former Studio Exec Says
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Star Wars: Battlefront III was once a game well and truly in development, at UK studio Free Radical. Since its 2008 cancellation, it has been supposedly off and on more times than anyone can count. Like many studios, Free Radical had its fair share of ups and downs, hits and misses over the years. But despite the mixed successes of their earlier games, it was one particular brush with the dark side of Star Wars that finally pushed them over the edge.

In a new, lengthy interview with Eurogamer, Free Radical’s founders describe how ultimately, work on the Star Wars game led to the studio’s downfall. In the beginning, said co-founders David Doak and Steve Ellis, the Battlefront III job was a dream come true. It was an “ambitious” project, and for two years of development, from 2006 until 2008, all signs were positive. The developer had a good working relationship with their contacts at LucasArts and game milestones were being met regularly.

The life of Battlefront III hinged on the goodwill of executive staff at LucasArts, but when a change in leadership struck, the goodwill went away. Doak said, “[We] began thinking that the dates were looking a bit tight … so we thought we’d do what we had never done before and let LucasArts know our concerns.” It seemed like a good idea at the time: “Because LucasArts had been so good to work with, we thought they’d see the sense of what we were saying. And that coincided with [LucasArts president] Jim Ward not being there one day.”

According to Doak, the change in leadership and tone presented an immediate and drastic problem: “We still thought we’d done the right thing. And then we went from talking to people who were passionate about making games to talking to psychopaths who insisted on having an unpleasant lawyer in the room.” From there, conditions continued to worsen. LucasArts stopped payments to Free Radical, and after six months it was wearing heavily on the team. Doak in particular found his role to have grown completely untenable:

My role at Free Radical meant that I was simultaneously involved in these unpleasant “high level” discussions with psychopaths who wanted to destroy us, and then the next day sitting with our dev staff at their desks trying to boost people’s morale. Helping them to pass milestones that I knew would subsequently be manipulated to cause them to fail. It was the most depressing and pointless thing that I have ever been involved in. The dream job which I once loved had become a nightmarish torture.

The studio, despite owning its own IP from the Timesplitters series, couldn’t recover. Free Radical eventually went into administration (bankruptcy), with its founders leaving to form a new studio and its core assets purchased by Crytek.

Free Radical vs. the Monsters [Eurogamer]


  • I really really hope that SWTOR destroys LA. They have created nothing but tripe over the last 5 years. This story only proves it. Publishers like this will be a thing of the past as they focus on big block busters to give them the big bucks. However the risk reward is staggering. they will fail, sooner rather than later.

    • SWTOR won’t do LucasArts any harm at all. It’s EA taking all the risk, LucasArts just provide the licence and take home a cut of the cash. Probably a BIG cut, too.

  • Star Wars makes way too much money for this to happen because of one failed venture. If anything you’d think it would be Bioware that suffers, but EA knows in Bioware they have a name and a franchise (Mass Effect) that sells.

  • Since LA stopped being passionate about making games, and stopped making real games (a la “Grim Fandango”), they really have gone down the drain.

  • The day that Lucasarts cancelled the near completed Sam & Max sequel was the same day I gave that company the finger and stopped buying their wares.

    And shit like Star Wars Kinect makes adhering to this creed effortless.

  • Wait a minute, so LucasArts killed Free Radical? And robbed me of my TimeSplitters 4? On top of the whole not-being-awesome-and-making-rad-games-like-they-used-to?

    There will be blood.

  • Remember guys it wasn’t Lucasarts per say, it was a few Psychopaths at the top that killed Free Radical. I am sure there were some in Lucasarts going “WTF is going on here?” And I am sure George L has little to say on what Lucasarts actually does now with the IP unless it’s TV or Movies.

  • Looks like pretty common Publisher machinations. I’ve gone through similar stuff with a bunch of publishers large and small. They’re all the same.

  • So they killed two games that would have made them even more rich

    Timesplitters 4 NOPE
    Battlefront 3 NOPE

    Star wars kinect YES

    seriously lucasarts you could do so much better

  • So Lucasarts ruined two of my favorite video game series ever… I sincerely hope they have a bring your kid to work day and the office building bursts into flame and that the only survivors are the now hospitalized never to walk again parents who will mourn their children in a bed ridden state for the rest of their lives…

  • I think this all stems from the fact that george lucas himself is a psycopath believing the world will end dec 21 this year 2012 (a fact well documented on the internet) so if you have a guy like that at the top of the organisation who doesnt believe in a global future beyond the end of this year what else can you expect from the organisation under him and which bears his name? Star Wars battle front did more to revive the star wars franchise than all the stupid ass prequels combined and it’s so sad that we will no longer see any addition to what trully was a genre immersive addictive and fun game

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