LucasArts game studio closed by Disney

LucasArts game studio closed by Disney

After almost 31 years of producing video games, interactive entertainment studio LucasArts is shutting down.

The move comes about five months after The Walt Disney Company acquired LucasFilm and LucasArts for $4.05 billion.

“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 said in a statement.

“As a result of the 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.”

According to Kotaku, about 150 people were laid off, but Disney declined to confirm an exact number. A spokeswoman said a small team will remain intact at LucasArts to work on licensing deals, while some employees will move to Disney Interactive.

There will be more Star Wars games in the future, but Disney is looking at a different model for their creation and publication. The two current projects — First Assault and 1313 — are on hold for the time being, the spokeswoman said.

LucasArts has been on the decline in recent years, Game Informer pointed out, citing disappointing sales of Star Wars games and the embarrassing cancellation of Star Wars Battlefront III. Despite success with titles like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and earlier Battlefront titles, other games didn’t fare so well, including the BioWare-developed MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, which was eventually forced into a free-to-play model.

Meanwhile, LucasArts’s other notable franchise, Indiana Jones, has done little to influence the industry, with the exception, Game Informer said, of the Traveller’s Tales Lego Indiana Jones series, which was not actually developed by LucasArts.

Disney’s focus appears to be the creation of new Star Wars movies. By 2015, the new joint company will produce the first Star Wars film since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, and plans to release a new Star Wars feature film every 2-3 years thereafter, Disney execs said in October.

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