Ladies and gentlemen, may I please ask for a moment of silence to remember a once great gaming publisher, Lucas Arts.
Alas this once mighty game developer and publisher has been shuttered a few months after being acquired by The Walt Disney Company. While their more recent of games, I’m looking at your Kinect Star Wars, showed this companies complete and total disconnection from their gaming community; Lucas Arts was once at the forefront of the gaming world and continually pushing out great games for one of the best known franchises in the world.
The Knights of the Old Republic quickly became a favorite amongst gamers
Lucas Arts was created by George Lucas in 1982 to serve as the video game development arm of his original company, Lucas Film. At first Lucas Arts developed games outside of Star Wars such as the Monkey Island series and numerous military based simulators. Though Star Wars wasn’t licensed by Lucas Arts until the 1990’s, it soon became the cash cow for the developer. This became the case so much that during the late 90’s and very early 2000’s, there were so many Star Wars games being put onto shelves. Though soon the age-old rule of “quality over quantity” began to kick in and by 2002 Star Wars game started to get hit hard with poor reviews throughout the gaming community. This all started to change though when in 2003 Lucas Arts worked with video game developer Bioware to create the amazingly well review Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This game was the launching point for not only a sequel but the new wave of modern 3D graphics combined with perfect story telling within a game and lastly a very intelligent role-playing game.
In 2004 Lucas Arts was given a new president, Jim Ward, who did a total reconstruction of the company’s infrastructure. Behind Jim Ward Lucas Arts produced some of it’s most well-known and best games to date. Leading this charge would be the great Star Wars Battlefront, which became the best-selling Star Wars game of all time at that point. Battlefront quickly spawned Star Wars Battlefront II in 2005 which was also met very positively by critics and gamers, such as myself, alike. From 2005 to 2008 the Lucas Arts continued to pump out successful games such as Star Wars Republic Commando, Star Wars Empire at War, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Between these amazing years for the Star Wars franchise, Lucas Arts continually scaled down its in-house developing and started to rely heavily on 3rd party developers, their relation with such companies was…unprofessional to say the least.
One of their best known release, Republic Commando never spawned a sequel though the community demanded it
Jim Ward left Lucas Arts citing personal reasons in 2008 and this marked the increasing decline of the once powerhouse publisher. A month before Jim Ward stepped down, Lucas Arts released Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II which was given mediocre reviews by most critics. Continuing this downward spiral, Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Republic Heroes was launched in late 2009 and once again was met with a barrage of negative reviews. In their darkest of years a small glimmer of hope appeared in the form of a big budget game and resurrection of a classic tag; In late 2008 Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced and in production at Bioware studios. This game was supposed to be a big boost to the failing Lucas Arts, sadly The Old Republic did not give the lift needed for them. On the day of it’s launched the game faced horrific installation problems on its first day out coupled with game crashing bugs and glitches; This was the final nail in the coffin for Lucas Arts. Between 2010 and 2012 numerous key people left and layoffs hammered the company to a shell of its former glory. On October 30, 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucas Arts for a sum of $4.05 billion. At first rumors spread of current in-house and under development games, such as the eye brow raising Star Wars 1313, were put on hold and moved behind other more important projects. Sadly on April 3, 2013, Disney confirmed the shuttering and immediate closure of Lucas Arts and the cancellation or exporting of any current projects.
The beautiful Star Wars 1313 trailer was shown once and soon after the project was cancelled
I am saddened by the news of Lucas Arts and it’s closure to say the least. The games they produced during their glory days were some of the best I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Perhaps though they had it coming to them. Sadly they never did listen to the gaming community on what we wanted, as we never saw Star Wars: Republic Commando 2 and the much beloved Star Wars Battlefront III never did see the light of day. On top of that Lucas Arts continually bullied 3rd party developers into releasing poor games or making poor financial decisions. Maybe then, it’s best a company that’s last Star Wars game was entitled Kinect Star Wars is buried and laid to rest.