Thursday, April 04, 2013

Riffing On: The Demise Of Lucasarts

In a shocking turn of events, various industry news sources are reporting that Disney – the new owners of the Star Wars brand after beardy-wierdy George Lucas decided to take his money and run – have decided to close down Lucasarts, creators of such great titles as Dark Forces, Grim Fandango and Star Wars: Battlefront.

In some ways, I find such a bold move to be a shocking development in the long history of the developer, but when you consider the games most recently launched by Skywalker Ranch, is it any surprise that Mickey and co have decided to farm the licence out?

With the likes of the awful Kinect Star Wars and dull Force Unleashed 2 tarnishing the venerable developer's reputation, perhaps it was actually time to put the old dog down and let new life flow into what is arguably one of the biggest-selling franchises the world has ever known (except for Harry Potter, naturally…).

If I'm honest with myself, I'm not really surprised by the news – shocked, but not surprised. I had already discussed the falling quality of games at Lucasarts, and offering the licence to other developers could finally be the shot in the arm the Star Wars universe needs.

However, I would be loath to acknowledge the number of staff who will lose their jobs over this move – people who brought great games, from point-and-click adventures to space combat simulators – to millions of computers and consoles across the world. Here's hoping they find a place in the new order – perhaps some will be picked up by developers now freed to bid on the Star Wars franchise now that internal production is to come to an end.

Another downside is that the promising Star Wars 1313 has reportedly been cancelled, for now – but if a new developer could be found, it could turn out to be a great swansong for the fallen giant that was Lucasarts.

So, farewell Lucasarts, thanks for Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, TIE Fighter, Rogue Squadron, Dark Forces and so many other brilliant titles. I can't help feeling that if you'd actually bloody made Star Wars Battlefront 3 this wouldn't of happened… May the Force be with you.

Check out Andy Hemphill's blog, which you can find after the jump