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When Disney took over all the rights to the Star Wars franchise late last year, we all knew that there would be changes in some areas. Honestly, our chief editor was shocked. Well, the axe has been brought down on LucasArts which will close after 30 years of producing games based on classic franchises such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Disney has already stated that instead of shifting production to another Disney department, they will license out the brand for specialist developers to produce the new games. And now all fans are horrified.
Trouble on the horizon
LucasArts has struggled in recent years to capitalise on their prestigious brands with games either failing to connect with their audience or performed poorly in the shops. The company had been behind some of the most successful Star Wars titles such as the Battlefront and Force Unleashed series but with no new recent instalments in either franchise looming on the horizon, it had caused some concerns with industry insiders. In fact, LucasArts’ future had been in question for some time following the cancellation of Battlefront III which upset many Star Wars fans and created a major rift between the studio and developers Free Radical.
On top of that, their MMORPG Knights of the Old Republic failed to retain gamers and had to switch to a free-to-play system to stay commercially viable for the company.
Lack of action
Back during their more successful days, LucasArts always had content in the works with three or four titles being released every year. But, at the time of closure, the studio is only thought to have two projects in development – Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars: 1313. The initial previews of 1313 had renewed optimism in Star Wars fans following the initial previews that were shown at last year’s E3 conference.
Since then, there has been little or no word on the game with LucasArts failing to release any more previews which had stopped any momentum that had been gained from the E3 conference.
Future lies away from home
Disney has stated that future Star Wars titles will now be licensed out to other developers who will have independent creative control over that game on its own. Unsurprisingly, the new owners have already started trialling this new method out as Finnish developers Rovio produced a Star Wars version of their hit Angry Birds game. In fact, there has been a changing shift in the gaming world in general with mobile gaming rising in popularity and taking attention away from the traditional gaming powerhouses of Xbox, Playstation and PC.
This has meant that Disney has been paying much more attention to that sector and producing games and apps for mobile platforms rather than developing full-blown video games. Meanwhile, the fate of First Assault and 1313 – which are currently in development – is still unknown and there has been no word on any new producers for the title. With 150 jobs being cut at the studio, it brings an end to the era of in-house Star Wars games and it will now be up to the rest of the gaming world to continue the saga and help the franchise rise from the ashes just like the Jedi did in the original film trilogy.