Disney have shut down the LucasArts game studio, brusquely cancelling all imminent games and sacking all workers, it is reported today.
Disney will still use the LucasArts name to license games, however the studio will not be working on any new games and all accessible titles have been scrapped.
The multimedia entertainment firm, which bought LucasArts, along with the film business Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 Billion, informed the staff of the verdict this morning. The move is expected to force around 150 workers into unemployment.
A spokesperson for Disney said, “After evaluating our stance in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing business model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games.”
LucasArts was a distinguished games maker, principally acknowledged for creating Star Wars tie-in games (two of which, ‘Star Wars 1313’ and ‘Star Wars: First Assault’ are high profile victims of this shutdown).
The company was also highly influential in the development of the ‘adventure games’ genre in the 80’s and 90’s, creating such notable works as ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’, ‘Grim Fandango’ and ‘Maniac Mansion’.
Gamer response has been vocal and damning, with fuming blogs, Facebook updates and Tweets hitting the net within hours of that decision.
Regardless of the outcry, this move isn’t without precedent. Last September LucasArts blocked all hiring and new product bulletins, an action which came right before the corporation’s sale to Disney the following month.
However, throughout the initial buyout, Disney had affirmed that all workers would remain in their present positions. Immediately subsequent the changeover, a company spokesperson is reported as saying that “for the time being all projects are business as usual. We’re excited about the many possibilities that Disney brings.”
Although the company’s last few titles had acknowledged mixed feedback and only small sales success, hopes were high for their upcoming releases.
It is conceivable that Disney will outsource the development of these products to other studios, but it seems more likely that the company will now put its efforts towards licensing a variety of tie-in titles for that as-yet unnamed ‘Star Wars VII’, movie scheduled for release in 2015.