Midway Studios: Mortal Kombat. Atari Games: Paperboy. Delphine Software International: Flashback: the Quest for Identity. Sierra Entertainment: The Quest For Glory. Technos Japan: Double Dragon. All these game companies are now gone and, today, we can add LucasArts to this list.
Earlier this week, Disney confirmed the closure of the studio responsible for hits such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Grim Fandango, and the amazing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.
Parent company Disney has stated, “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.”
Nearly 150 people have been laid off and the studio’s upcoming games, Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313, are likely cancelled (although there is some very faint hope for the latter), thus perhaps making LucasArts’ last game the disappointing Kinect Star Wars.
As the studio behind Fate of Atlantis, one the best games ever made, that is a damned shame.
However, as much as sentimentality may be watering my eyes, I still feel compelled to point out that gamers need not worry too much because LucasArts had lost its former glory with a spate of mediocre releases. Also, their biggest contribution to gaming, Knights of the Old Republic, was far more developer Bioware’s product than theirs.
Also, none of this is out of the ordinary because, in videogames, companies are mutable. Marvelous Entertainment became Marvelous AQL, Pandemic Studios was purchased by Electronic Arts and subsequently shut down, Square is now Square Enix, Eidos Interactive is now Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics is now Square Enix and even many of the aforementioned studios have either been acquired rather than dissolved.
And, regardless of their status, the studios’ properties are still alive, such as Midway’s Mortal Kombat now being developed by NetherRealm Studios.
So, really, it would be quite an exaggeration to say that, because LucasArts is gone, we no longer will see Star Wars or Indiana Jones anymore. The change, in fact, may not even feel cosmetic for most gamers because the LucasArts logo will still be maintained.
Even though it was proving to be a shadow of its former self, the studio was the livelihood of at least 150 people. As a gamer and a human, I offer my sincerest well wishes to the people who are now seeking employment.
Either way, despite our recent disappointments, I am certain fans will cherish the good memories given to them by LucasArts; now, if they can extend that courtesy to the man LucasArts is named after, the world might be a less bitter place.