As fun as it is to blames Disney for LucasArts being closed down, it really isn’t their fault. According to an amazingly researched and detailed report done by Kotaku, LucasArts was a complete disaster for years. Between constant changes of people in charge (3 different Presidents in 4 years), mass layoffs, and Lucas himself it’s a wonder any game ever got made. The article goes into a good amount of detail gained by talking to former employees about the state of the studio, how it was run, and even canceled titles. There is why too much information to talk about here but I want to talk about a few points that caught my eye. Let’s start with the canceled titles.
- Up first is a HD remake of Day of the Tentacle that was 80% complete.
- A complete and QA’d iOS game that let you take control of your very own Death Star.
- A multiplatform (Consoles, Facebook, tablets) game called Smuggler where you created your own smuggler and smuggled resources around the galaxy in a multiplayer environment.
- A Wii U title based on the X-Wing and Tie Fighter franchises
- Prior to it being 1313, the team at LucasArts wanted to make an RPG that morphed into a Gears of War clone and finally into 1313.
- An open world GTA-style Star Wars game (another precursor to 1313)
- A complex open world game driven by choice and consequence designed by the lead designer of Far Cry 2.
- A Farmville clone called Outpost.
- A multiplayer title named Star Wars: First Assault that was meant to reintroduce Battlefront and lead into a new Battlefront game.
- And, finally, Star Wars: 1313 itself.
Looking at the above titles, how many of those sound like great games? Who wouldn’t want to control their own Death Star? It sounds like a perfect iOS title. A near complete HD remake of a game old fans of LucasArts adventure games have been begging for forever, a game you can not get legally anymore. Outpost aside, every one of those games sounds like something I would buy. It is crazy that they were all killed off.
So what about the actual death of LucasArts? Well, Disney has said before they do not care about AAA game development. They don’t want to spend the money on it. So when Disney bought LucasFilm they tried to sell LucasArts. EA was the potential buyer and the deal was nearly complete. What happened? SimCity happened and then John Ricccitiello leaving happened and everything fell apart. Disney kept LucasArts around for that deal and with it’s failure so went the studio that had turned into a shell of it’s former self. A studio filled with talented developers and ruined by mis-management all the way up the food chain.
Lucas himself did major damage to games by forcing changes without knowing or caring what effect they could have. According to a former employee posting in the comments section of the article no one dared tell Lucas no because he would fire people for doing so. On top of that developers didn’t get the time they needed with him to work out details and the president of LucasFilm would screen anyone visiting Lucas, telling them what to say. After reading the article I really don’t think Star Wars: 1313 would have been anything but another Force Unleashed 2, no matter how much the developers tried. The studio was simply not a place where good games could be made anymore and it is sad to read about how far it fell.
Source (I highly recommend people to read the whole thing): Kotaku