I’ve felt a great disturbance in The Force. It was as if millions of voices cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. It’s official: Disney has killed off LucasArts.
The decision comes little more than 5 months after Disney purchased LucasFilm and its many subsidiaries – LucasArts amongst them. With Disney’s interactive team already chiseling away at everything from mobile juggernauts and social games to home console releases, there was rampant speculation that such a move might be inevitable. Still – it doesn’t make it any less disheartening.
“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,” Disney told Game Informer in an official statement. “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.”
But as gamers, I think the Star Wars games are the furthest thing from our mind. LucasArts has a storied history of amazing game development, and among adventure gamers their releases from the late 80’s through the 90’s were the stuff of legend. Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango – the list goes on and on.
Let’s face it; this is the closest video games have ever gotten to Hamlet.
When Disney bought LucasFilm, I’d personally held out a glimmer of hope that there might be a follow-up deal where Tim Schafer (the creator of many of those great games) would buy the old LucasArts IP’s and fold them into his own studio, Double Fine Productions. It looks like Disney’s shuttering of LucasArts doesn’t mean that they necessarily want to dump those IP’s, though.
“LucasArts shutting down doesn’t change the status of the Monkey Island IP. Disney bought all that months ago,” series creator Ron Gilbert tweeted earlier today. “Sad day today, but not surprising, you had to see that coming. I was employee #9 at Lucasfilm Games.” When asked by Spellirium creator Ryan Henson Creighton what sort of licensing fees Disney is charging for the old LucasArts properties, Gilbert clearly stated his distaste for the situation: “I don’t want to license MI. I created it, I should own it.”
While closing LucasArts is understandable from a business point-of-view, it’s kind of hard to remain objective about a studio we all love so much. I guess it’s time for me to finally start reading my copy of this. RIP LucasArts. You had a good run.