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LucasArts, the video game publishing and developing wing of LucasFilm, is no more. Disney revealed today that they're laying off the staff of the San Francisco-based studio.
"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," said Disney in a 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."
LucasArts was responsible for a number of games based on Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Notable games for those franchises included Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, TIE Fighter and Dark Forces. They also produced many classic adventure games in the late 80's and early 90's, such as Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island series. If you were a PC gamer in the early 1990's, there's a good chance that LucasArts was responsible for some of your favorite games. It's true for me, anyway.
The studio's batting average was always pretty poor, though. For every quality game like Jedi Knight, the company made stinkers like Kinect Star Wars, Super Bombad Racing, or Masters of Teras Kasi. The closure of LucasArts isn't as surprising as the fact that it took 15 years' worth of poor-selling shovelware to convince someone to shutter the company.
Moving forward, LucasArts will focus on licensing their franchises out to external developers or publishers. There will be more Star Wars and Indiana Jones games in the future, in other words. They just won't be made by LucasArts.
Today's news probably dooms Star Wars 1313, the gritty shooter that made waves at last E3. A representative for LucasFilm told Game Informer that there's a possibility that an external licensee could pick up the project. Kotaku's source is less optimistic, saying that that the chances of this are "effectively zero."