Disney closes Lucasarts

It’s always sad to report on huge job losses at a time when all our heads are exploding with economic downturn this and financial crisis that, but today’s news that Disney have closed down game production studio Lucasarts following its takeover in October is a particular bugger.

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According to the story on Forbes, up to 150 people have lost their livelihood because of this decision to refocus the efforts of the Lucasarts brand away from game development over to game licensing.

Simply put, and not to mention cynically put, Disney will make more money by allowing third parties to spend their own time and money creating new Lucas properties including games based on future chapters in the Star Wars series, as well as those of that other dynamite property, Indiana Jones, rather than hiring the staff to get it done in-house. Disney will further profit from licensing these properties out in the first place. An excellent plan; one that’s worthy of the evil genius Darth Vader himself.

A statement from Disney sent to GameInformer by a LucasArts employee said:

“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.”

One such new title was to be Star Wars 1313, a third-person shooter announced last June which has since been chopped, although there remains the speculation that this could yet see the light of day under one of these licensing deals.

It’s hardly unfair to argue that there was a great deal for LucasArts to make up for; their Wars MMORPG switched away from subscription-based to free-to-play within months of launch due to underwhelming performance against rivals like World of Warcraft, but the company’s sweeping redundancies coupled with cases like THQ’s meltdown means it’s getting really tough out there for video game programmers and designers, sadly.

And don’t even get me started on the sad fate of LucasArts’ point-and-click legacy; that one’s gonna sting for a while yet.

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