Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Cancels Star Wars 1313 And Star Wars: First Assault [Updated]

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Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Cancels Star Wars 1313 And Star Wars: First Assault [Updated]


Disney has laid off the staff of LucasArts and cancelled all current projects. Staff were informed of the shutdown this morning, according to a reliable Kotaku source. Some 150 people were laid off, and both of the studio’s current projects — Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313 — were cancelled. Disney will still use the LucasArts name to license games, but the studio is no more.

Publicly, Disney is saying its current games could be licensed out to a different publisher or developer. According to our source, however, that’s unlikely. Our source says Lucas has pursued the option for “one or both games”, but nothing happened. “With the teams now basically being dispersed I think both games are effectively dead forever,” our source said.

A second source also told Kotaku this afternoon that the chances of Lucas licensing out 1313 are very slim. The odds are “effectively zero,” the source said.

“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimising the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games,” LucasArts parent company LucasFilm said in a statement. “As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organisation. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”

This comes after weeks and months of rumours involving the studio, which was acquired by Disney last year. In September 2012, LucasArts put a freeze on all hiring and product announcements, which many staff saw as the beginning of the end. In February 2013, we started hearing rumours that the studio might be shuttered. Today, it’s official: the iconic development house is gone.

The company was acquired as part of a mega-merger last year, where Disney acquired LucasFilm and its sibling company from Lucas. Maniac Mansion, one of LucasArts’ first self-published titles, introduced the “SCUMM” game engine driving several well known point-and-click adventure titles the company published throughout the 1990s. The Secret of Monkey Island, created by Ron Gilbert and co-written by Double Fine’s Tim Schafer, is one of the publisher’s best-known graphical adventures using the engine.

The publisher’s apogee was certainly in the 1990s, when a wave of Star Wars-themed titles for the PC — such as Dark Forces, X-Wing and Rebel Assault — were supplemented by games like the strategy title Afterlife, the Sam & Max series and Schafer’s Full Throttle.

In the 2000s, the company became more reliant on its Star Wars products and licences sold to other developers as new efforts like Fracture failed to take hold. The decade’s most notable successes — Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Battlefront — were both externally developed by BioWare and Pandemic Studios respectively. LucasArts’ last title to see mainstream success was 2008’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. A 2010 sequel didn’t live up to expectations. The last game published by LucasArts was Kinect Star Wars for the Xbox 360 last year, a game widely panned by critics.

Head here to remember the good times with Lucasarts

Comments

    • TL:DR

      Buy lucas arts

      Lay off staff
      sell off assets used by staff for daily operations
      Profit + huge savings

      keep $bn starwars IP
      License it to developers/publishers
      Profit + low risk

      similar to a corporate raider really

      • To be fair, Disney bought Lucasfilm, of which LucasArts was a division. They made it clear 6 months ago they weren’t interested in the LucasArts side of things, but gave it that six months before making a final decision. I’m upset by the decision, hate them for doing it, and think it’s a shockingly bad move, but Disney have been quite reasonable, really. A true corporate raider would’ve had security escorting staff out before the ink had dried.

        But otherwise, your model is spot on. That’s definitely the Disney way. They’ll likely next make some moves to really take control of the IP next – take down notices, cease-and-decists, etc. I mean, they are trying to patent and thereby either gain royalties or stop use of all forms of a 200+ years old children’s story and characters.

      • actually LucasArts hasn’t produced anything of value in recent years and all of those old games you love were largely created by people who have left LucasArts. I mean the only decent games released under the LucasArts labels in recent years were all created by contracted companies, which is what Disney plan on doing. So really, no big loss to gamers

    • This seems to be being reported widely so it doesn’t seem to be a late April Fool’s joke. That said, I can’t seem to find any official source from any of the news outlets. I’d feel more confident in the authenticity of the news if there was some official statement or Twitter post somewhere.

    • No, just the jobs and livelyhoods of around 150 passionate and talented developers. But of course, they weren’t making games you had any vested interests in, so clearly all of that means precisely dick.

      • From the games they released in the last few years, I’m not sure many of them were all that passionate or talented.

      • He was likely commenting on the studio itself and not the people in it. A little tasteless perhaps, but not really worth mounting that high horse for.

  • I’m not real surprised, or sad. It’s been awhile since LA created anything worthwhile, and the games they were working on were uninspiring, and this is from a Star Wars fan. The golden era for LA was in the 90’s, and that’s how i will remember them 🙂

      • The concept was extremely promising. The reality, by way of gameplay videos, was a corridor shooter with all the knee-high boxes a person could want and dynamic climbing sequences à la Uncharted.

        Really though, apart from a pitch, select developer hype, and a couple of clips, there wasn’t much going for this game.

  • The Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones games were good. Sure, Lucasarts was the publisher and not the developer there but from what I hear they still worked closely on those titles. Tales of Monkey Island had positive reviews, and I have a few friends that quite enjoyed Force Unleashed. I agree their best games were from the 90s but they haven’t exactly been putting out only bombs since then.

    1313 uninspiring? I thought it sounded really interesting.

    Edit: this was supposed to be a reply to Omega Man. Comment System Strikes Back =/

  • This is confirmed. Lucas Arts employees were given their walking papers today. June is the last month of operations before shutting down entirely. Shame on Disney for raking in billions of dollars worth of profits yet still putting hundreds of people out of work. Star Wars 1313 looked awesome, yes the last few games haven’t, but that really is beside the point. Coming out of a recession a profitable corporation like Disney should be creating jobs and stimulating growth, not the other way around. It’s really disheartening to see. I hope Mickey Mouse is tearing Robert Iger a new one right now!

    • To be fair, giving them three months notice isn’t too terrible. I can think of many other places where they’ve suddenly shut down and people have no job to go to the next day.

    • Fair go. We’re talking about something like 150 people at LucasArts losing their jobs. Disney have also said they’re going to make a whole bunch of Star Wars movies and TV shows – I’m pretty sure those will create a hell of a lot more jobs than the 150 that are going from LucasArts.

  • Im guessing they will be creating a new video game wing soon then start working on some tie ins for the next Star Wars movies. Shutting LucasArts down probably makes it easier for them to negotiate new contracts with various publishers.

  • Like I’ve said before, this is on you, whiny Star Wars/ Indy fans. WIth your constant complaints about Jar Jar and the prequels and the fridge and how George was ruining everything and not magically making you feel like you did when you were aninnocent five year old now that you’re a disullusioned, miserly thirty year old. It led Lucas to get so jack of the criticism he sold the lot to Disney, who are now proceeding to show you all what ruining the franshise you love really looks like. Nice job.

    Enjoy the fruits of your years of nerd-raging.

    RIP LucasArts. I loved you dearly. You’ll be missed.

      • Cause: Lucas cited numerous times that petulant fanboys bemoaning how much was wrong with the prequel trilogy were diminishing his enjoyment of the franchise he created. Each new move prompted further abuse.

        For example:

        The criticism got to Lucas. He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk. “It was fine before the Internet. But now with the Internet, it’s gotten very vicious and very personal. You just say, ‘Why do I need to do this?’”

        And:

        “Why would I make any more,” Lucas says, “when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”

        Also:

        “On the Internet, all those same guys that are complaining I made a change are completely changing the movie,” Lucas tells the New York Times in a new profile, referring to YouTube fans who have re-cut his films in retaliation for the small changes he has made. “I’m saying: ‘Fine. But my movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.'”

        Effect: Lucas sells his stuff to Disney. Disney close LucasArts.

        Please point out the confusing part, jackass.

          • Argument: an attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons for accepting a particular conclusion as evident.

            But I agree – it wasn’t a cool thing to say.

          • that’s not what Spoons statement did though. But it is evident you’re a jackass. Jackass.

          • @saywhatnow?

            Are you being cleverly satirical (in which case, well said)? Or piteously ironic (in which case, “well said”)?

        • I’m impressed that you managed to track down some quotes to substantiate your argument. So impressed that I’ve up-voted your comment. Well played.

          • It didn’t substantiate anything. He’s stating that the fans nerd rage happened in a vacuum and nothing happened before it.

          • Thanks. Sadly, I didn’t have to research it much – had most of the info on tap. I’m still a pedantic Star Wars fanboy, just a different kind. I mostly liked the prequels and re-edits and even Jar Jar, and thought GL was doing an OK job.

        • You are clearly confused.

          Cause: Lucas remakes his films that undermine fans understanding of characters and makes woeful prequels that display that he never understood why his original series was so successful.

          Effect: Fans nerd rage.

          Cause: Lucas is clearly unable to learn from his mistakes and blames the very fans who made him successful, instead of himself. He’s also unable to grow some balls like Michael Bay, Stephanie Meyer and countless others whom are consistently poked at and has a hissy fit to NY Times. Despite being able to bring on other directors and writers and allowing them to take the responsibility, he sells the whole franchise for billions.

          Effect: Franchise has new owners

          Cause: New owners don’t see the value in the games department.

          Effect: LucasArts is closed down.

          • Given the cause and effect for both our arguments are essentially the same, it would seem to invalidate your original slur – or at least, given you enough rope to insult yourself as well. I think perhaps it’s the interpretation that’s the issue?

          • The problem is that you didn’t consider the responsibility of Lucas for the fan reaction. If someone runs their car into yours, you get angry and abuse them and they then quit driving and blame you because of the abuse – who is responsible for you quitting driving?

          • Re-read the quote where he says “Fine. But my movie, with my name on it, that says I did it, needs to be the way I want it.”. No one is forcing you to watch or buy the movies – prequel or re-edit.

            Your argument assumes equality where there is none – you didn’t create the franchise, buy into the company, or get hired and/or promoted to a creative role within it. You’re a consumer. In your example, your one of many drivers who all know what kind of driver he is, and you know exactly where his car is going to be. You know from previous experience his likely direction and speed. You likely have several other cars – VHS, DVD, etc – not as good a quality, sure, and several other roads, so there’s plenty of alternatives. But you still line up in that spot – you even pay for the opportunity to be in front of his car. Then you complain that you got hit. Not only that – you’re (and I hate using this word) entitled to get angry and abuse the other driver. It’s your right, and how dare they get offended – they should welcome your abuse.

            Regardless of the causes and background, a once great game studio has closed, and that’s a sad thing.

          • What? That take on the analogy doesn’t work at all. Nobody knows what direction he was going to go. At what point did Lucas hit that one way street? I’d give you Episode 3 and that is it. He had a history of driving brilliantly, so amazing in fact that we chose to give him 1 or 2 chances along the way. And who the hell predicted that he was going to change the original trilogy? Nothing ever indicated that.
            And since when does a director stating that the movies are his and only his exclude him from a lot of very valid criticism? No one is forcing anyone to watch his movies, but it doesn’t mean that people don’t get to have an opinion.

          • @phlaiman

            He’s been re-editing the original trilogy since the TV debut of Star Wars in 1984. From then, there have been I think five re-edits (1987, 1990, 1992, 1997, 2011) – some minor, some major. In between triologies, he made one of the most infamous bombs of the 1980s – Howard the Duck, in 1986. The two Ewok films he made in the 1980s aren’t highly regarded by fans either. He put another box office disaster out with 1994’s Radioland Murders. He’s got demonstrated form for making films people don’t like, and has been re-editing the original trilogy for nearly 30 years. Hardly “driving brilliantly”. I’m glad your analogy isn’t literally true, or the annual road toll would be measured in the hundreds of thousands.

            Clearly, he can stand the criticism – he keeps making movies regardless of the poor reviews. Your “opinion” isn’t “valid criticism” – unless you’re approaching this with either a film production or film criticism background. Otherwise, it remains opinion. He’s free to ignore yours, as you are free to ignore mine (he actually says he can live with fans re-editing the films themselves, and doesn’t discourage it – bloody rare from the mouth of the head of a multi-billion dollar studio – but not the hyprocrisy of criticising him for doing it). Both “opinion” and “valid criticism” are very different from abuse, such as “unable to grow some balls” and “blames the very fans who made him successful”. That abuse – not “valid criticism” – is why he sold the franchise. That’s why Disney has it. That’s why LucasArts is no more.

          • A series of sterling, well structured arguments supported by quotes and historical fact. Tis’ a rare thing indeed. Well played!

        • Couldn’t agree more. You reap what you sow. I love the Lucasarts of old, but they’ve lost their way, and I’d rather have a closed studio of legends than a figurehead brand that means nothing (ala what Atari, Sierra, Origin etc. turned into).

          PS. George Lucas’s Redtails rules. Check it out if you get a chance!

        • Cinderella: A new hope…for Cinderella
          Cinderella 2: Step mother strikes Back
          Cinderella 3: The return of the Godmother

          may the slipper be with you

          • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. The mice are cute, but otherwise … well, it’s for pre-tween girls, so my opinion is worth even less than usual.

            Disney under Michael Eisner largely pioneered the concept of IP in the form of film and video rights as an infinitely exploitable resource. He basically drew animated production to a halt, and set up a suite of studios worldwide to develop straight-to-video sequels of Disney’s back-catalogue of animated films (to be fair, he was also in charge when Disney made The Lion King, so there’s positives and negatives).

            It’s now literally quicker to list which of their animated movies don’t have sequels:

            Oliver and Company
            The Princess and the Frog

            I think even The Black Cauldron has or is getting a sequel.

            BTW – there are loads of Cinderella 2’s. I highly recommend The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines. Not a kids story, but well worth the read. It’s also Snow White 2 (and kinda Sleeping Beauty 2, though his take on her is … not child friendly).

  • Sad to see any company go. Last lucasArts game I played was outlaws on pc. One of my all time favourite games!

    • Yeah but no word on what platform or when itwas getting released. I think this was a long time coming, as soon as Disney took over back in Sept.

      • Here’s hoping that the people working on 1313 rework what they have and release it as a cyberpunk game. May take them a while longer but if they’ve got most of it down, it’ll just be the skins and parts of the story that would need to be reworked.

  • This is really no surprise what with the bad management and bad decisions that have been made in the past. I’m also sad about this because it was a hope of mine that LucasArts would come back stronger but maybe this is something that is needed. Time will tell

  • I would hazard a guess that this happened because First Assault and 1313 do no fall in line with the style Disney want to use for future Star Wars stuff… which sucks because I thought both games looked refreshing for the franchise =[

    • That’s probably a good point, disney are wanting to keep their releases ‘family friendly’ for want of a better word

      • have you seen any of the recent stuff released thats owned by disney? Particularly movies?
        they own so much IP now that its impossible to keep everything family friendly

        alot of its has violence language and adult themes i would deem unsuitable for kids

        • I don’t really see that much that is being released that I wouldn’t consider family friendly. Not saying you would let your little kids watch it but really the worst they have is super heroes and pirates of the Caribbean. Was there anything else you are referring to?
          Not really anything there that people are going to worry about scarring their kids. With video games they still need to consider the interactive nature of the games the perception parents have that this could make their children more violent.
          They may have considered this too great a risk to be associated with their plans for the star wars IP and didn’t want to risk the associated toy revenue

        • I think that, as of the early 1990’s until a couple of years ago, Disney owned Miramax. Which means Disney were behind such films as Pulp Fiction, The Crow, Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead and Kill Bill among many others.

          So yeah, not always family-friendly. Although the sale of Miramax suggests they may have been trying to clean up their image a bit and concentrate on the family-friendly stuff a bit more in recent years.

          • I wasn’t thinking about the affiliated and owed subsidiary companies. There was a few of those. The difference here is that the IP is much more valuable (star wars) and they will be releasing movies, TV shows, toys, games, placemats, spoons, plates, diapers and more as part of that. Anything they do with the brand will reflect of Disney’s primary brand because they will be doing a lot of Disney / Star wars stuff

  • Apparently disney don’t like money. This is pretty awful news. I mean… 1313 was probably going to be the first really good Star Wars game since KOTOR.

  • Why all the love for 1313? It looked cheap and generic to me. Also, why would you call a game 1313? That’s just saying, “Universe, please screw me over”.

  • “As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organisation. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”

    Does no one see something wrong with this statement?

    We are so incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles THAT WE HAVE SACKED THEM ALL. There’s our appreciation.

    • Being “incredibly appreciative and proud” is free. Still, we’re talking about a parent company that was infamous for being so appreciative and proud of its staff, it took out “dead peasant” insurance against them. Just being laidoff might actually be a genuine form of appreciation.

  • Wow, that’s sad. LucasArts made some of my favourite games growing up, especially Labyrinth, Maniac Mansion, and the first Monkey Island and Indiana Jones games (always preferred The Last Crusade to Fate of Atlantis). Still, it’s been a fair while since they made a great game. They’d descended into the ranks of mid-tier developers, and that’s a breed that’s rapidly dying out.

    At this point it feels kind of like losing a very old family dog. You’ll always love him for all the fun you had when you were a kid, but in his latter years all he got old and sick and arthritic and all he really did was stagger around and shit on the rug, so at least he’s not suffering any more.

  • First they shut down Black Rock Studios, now LucasArts….. Are they trying to take over from EA as the #1 hated publisher?

    1313 alone could have made them a lot of money by way that was looking. To me it seems smarter to at least release that before you shut down the company….. Oh well. 🙁

    • When you look at the number of Star Wars movies and TV shows that they’re planning (not to mention the associated merchandise), the amount they stood to make from 1313 (assuming it was actually successful) would be less than a drop in the ocean, so probably not worth the effort and expense from Disney’s point of view.

      • Although you are probably right, it was a game that looked like it was trying to cater to people who might not have a huge interest in Star Wars; so I wasn’t just thinking initial income, but also down the road if it brings in general interest for the franchise.

        But yes, that is a risk, and obviously one that Disney isn’t willing to take (which is pretty understandable considering their situation like you said.)

  • Screw you Disney!

    Sorry, but that just pisses me off. My dreams of a new X-wing or Tie Fighter game are gone. You’ll be missed, Lucasarts.

    • Well, not necessarily gone. Star Wars games will still get made, but they’ll be licensed out to other publishers/developers rather than developed by LucasArts. So it’s still possible that somebody else will come along and buy the rights to make one. Especially if that new Chris Roberts space combat game is a success, it may suggest to publishers that there’s a market out there for that kind of thing.

  • NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I was so looking forward to 1313. Hopefully someone leaks some info. Would love to know if it actually was a boba fett game 🙂

  • I would think they’d at least finish something like 1313 and then gauge from there what they wanted to do.

  • It’s sad to see them go but Lucasarts hasn’t made a game that wasn’t Star Wars shovelware for decades now.

  • This is a bad move for Disney overall. They needed to go in there, clean house and get in people who had the vision to go with the resources. Lucas Arts has been hit and miss for the past decade and most of it can be chalked up to directional problems and small factors that could be fixed.
    For instance Force Unleashed 2 simply shouldn’t have been made. The story was done and the interest in the engine had peaked, but the first game was successful so they rushed out a sequel. They need someone down there who can recognise how things like that will play out and convince the people looking to cash in that there are better ways to do it.
    I don’t think anyone at Disney realised Lucas Arts isn’t just about squeezing out Star Wars games. They’ve got the potential to be the Pixar of video games. At the very least it could have been a pillar to support their new Star Wars empire. Less risk, less control and less connection are going to reduce any new movie games to standard tie-in garbage.

  • It says ‘updated’ but i can’t see any new info in this article – am I missing somehting? Why is this story still stickied?

    • Good question… I have no idea why this is still stuck.

      For the past 24 hours actually I have been visiting Kotaku still seeing this at the top and leaving as I genuinely thought there had been no new articles published.

  • what does that mean for any of the movies that are coming out in the next couple of years i was really hoping to see the movie adaptation of the mandalorian wars

    • Particularly because it wasn’t particularly thrilling in the first place and hasn’t had any real traffic in two days? I’m not really sure why it got stickied in the first place.

  • Last good game developed by Lucasarts was Republic Commando, and that was back in 2005, before that? Gladius is 2003…

  • It was actually a pretty nice move. Let’s be realistic here, when was the last time LucasArt released a decent game? The only thing the company’s got going for it is the StarWar IP. Developing wise LucasArt suck major balls and had to rely on whoring out their StarWar IP to survive.

  • If you are a TRUE star wars fan which Lucas Arts was famous for than dumb Disney needs to make like more star wars games like battlefront 3. Because all the movies all done.

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