As we’ve seen early this year, the FX business has hit a crisis with Rhythm and Hues filing for Chapter 11, and Tippett Studios having to lay off 40% of its staff. Now LucasArts is the latest company hitting hard times, shutting down its video game division, and laying off over 150 employees.
As Deadline reports, the statement from a Lucas spokesperson 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.”
This means that the plug has been pulled on the Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault games. You may recall that last year, the game Star Wars: The Old Republic had lost a lot of subscribers, and it even went free to play to try and save it. As the L.A. Times reports, this is “part of a broader strategy of pulling back from video games” now that LucasFilm was acquired by Disney.
As Forbes reminds us, the last really significant game that LucasArts put out was The Force Unleashed, which many considered a true game changer to the point where the video games could have continued the story far better than the movies could. As Forbes also points out, Disney has done this before, acquiring then shutting down Propaganda Games (Tron Evolution, Black Rock Studio (Split/Second), and Junction Point (Epic Mickey 1 and 2).
As Time reminds us, LucasArts had been in business a little over thirty years, and this again proof positive that the video game market is very volatile, and there could be a lot more ups and downs ahead in 2013. Where the current IP’s will end up has yet to be said, but all we can say to those projects now is, “may the force be with you!”