back to article Disney shutters Star Wars game unit with 200 layoffs

Just a few months after snapping up George Lucas' Star Wars empire, Disney is shutting down its game unit LucasArts and laying off around 200 employees. All work has ceased on the two new games announced last year, Star Wars: 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault, although they could be revived if another game-maker takes over. …

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  1. g e
    Mushroom

    Fucking Disney

    That is all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fucking Disney

      At first I thought "He's trolling!" but having a think I have to admit this decision from Disney most certainly reeks of asset-stripping.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Fucking Disney

      I'm sure Disney would have kept it going if it was profitable. You only have to look through the string of duds it has produced in the last ten years to realise how unlikely that was.

      1. g e
        Unhappy

        Re: Fucking Disney

        I'd have thought Lucas would have binned it if it weren't making a few bucks, also.

        Disney just want the Star Wars name for film, presumably and nothing else. Then, when they've murdered Star Wars, like all the European folk tales and everything else they've butchered over the years, they'll wonder why everyone's sick to death of it.

        Then they'll blame piracy or something for lack of exorbitant profit and try to make everyone's lives just that tiny bit bleaker because of it.

        Cynical? Damned right. Money and/or shareholders involved.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Fucking Disney

          LucasArts went through at least one round of layoffs prior to the buyout. Who's to say it wouldn't have been shut down completely or reformed into a pure publishing label any way?

          The inhouse development studio has been churning out some pretty lacklustre titles in the last decade and game development is a horrifically risky and expensive business. Look how many studios have been shut down of late to illustrate the point.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fucking Disney

            What were lucasarts last decent in house games? Dark Forces & Tie Fighter? AFAIK KOTOR was Bioware?

            As to disney, the Marvel movies they put out (with the exception of relaunching spider man a half hour after he was last relaunched) were mostly on the better side of the average superhero movie.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Fibbles

      Re: Fucking Disney

      As much love as I have for Lucas Arts, their heyday was definitely the 90's. The SCUMM games and Grim Fandango were brilliant. The only decent Star Wars games produced in the last 10 or so years have all been licensed titles though. You're only kidding yourselves if you think the studio that brought us Force Unleashed II was ever going to stay afloat, Disney takeover or no. They weren't even that great as a publisher, Star Wars Kinnect makes the Ewoks look like fucking shaft.

      1. Yet Another Commentard

        Re: Fucking Disney

        @fibbles

        Upvote just for the obscure "Spaced" reference.

    5. Fatman Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Fucking Disney

      And, you can add in their lobbying to extend copyright protections as another reason for that sentiment.

  2. Sentient

    the nerve

    So proud we sack them.

    I guess sometimes it's better to shut up.

    1. boltar Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: the nerve

      "I guess sometimes it's better to shut up."

      I don't know whats more pathetic - whether they assume everyone else is so stupid that they believe this PR guff or whether they're so stupid they actually believe it themselves. Either way, it must take a special kind of moron to work in a PR department.

      1. Ray Gratis
        Meh

        Re: the nerve

        Hmmm.... actually, the either/or you mention can also be applied to politicians, anyone with an MBA, etc etc

  3. Mike Smith
    FAIL

    The PR-speak decoder says...

    "After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimising the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games,"

    Translation:

    "After realising that we might make a balls-aching loss on flogging games which will doubtless be knocked off within hours of their release by pirates in China or Eastern Europe, we've decided to chuck out all these horrible geeks. We'll just charge other starry-eyed mugs a hefty fee to take the risk. We cop for the royalties if it works, they cop for the losses if it doesn't. Win-win!"

    1. Euchrid

      It's been going this way for a long time...

      As the article mentioned, the last game developed by LucasArts was Force Unleashed 2 - the PC, PS 3 and Xbox versions were dire, but the Wii was pretty decent. The latter still had the dire story and script, but the gameplay was more solid, had an enjoyable control system and a hugely entertaining multiplayer game – another difference was that it was developed by Red Dog Studios.

      Something very similar happened with the first game – Red Dog produced a game that was different to the LucasArts versions without the bugs.

      LucasArts has been relying more and more on outside developers and it’s been letting go of staff. In 2008, after Force Unleashed, it let go of a (reported) 100 staff and had to deny rumours that it was closing shop. IIRC, that was the first round of lay-offs and it certainly wasn’t the last – more were let go in 2010 and last year, it was being reported that 30% of staff had to leave (http://uk.ign.com/articles/2010/09/01/lucasarts-confirms-layoffs).

  4. Euchrid

    Around 200?

    Every article I've read says that it was around 150 people being laid off - so is there WSJ right?

    LucasArts introduced a recruitment freeze back in September, so things weren't looking that rosy then.

  5. bearded bear can
    Thumb Down

    I knew it

    The dark times are upon us

  6. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Flame

    The title of this article says it perfectly

    So Disney is so proud and and grateful that they couldn't find a place in their evil empire for all of this talent, choosing instead to screw them over? I wonder if there's a Disney character like Goofy on the pink slips...

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: The title of this article says it perfectly

      More like Scrooge McDuck

  7. Flawless101

    Burying it

    Let's be honest here, LucasArts died long ago when the creative force behind funny smart adventure games left (Shaffer et al) this is just accepting it and burying it. They were a shadow of them former selves making/publishing Stars Wars game upon Star Wars game, and the worst crime about this? They never followed up on truly great games, No Republic Commando 2, No Battlefront 3 (although they were just the publisher but I doubt it had anything to do with the dev house(s) when crap like The Force Unleashed got an undeserved sequel, there is no justice.

    I think I'll play Grim Fandango later.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Let's be honest here....

      ... you may be right, but the fact that Disney just bought it and then shut it down reeks of asset stripping. If you don't have plans for a business then don't buy it. This sort of shit should be illegal, at the very least there should be mandatory massive redundancy payouts when a new owner decides to shut a company they've just bought...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Corinne

        Re: Let's be honest here....

        ".. you may be right, but the fact that Disney just bought it and then shut it down reeks of asset stripping. If you don't have plans for a business then don't buy it."

        To be fair, they bought the whole of the Lucas empire of which LucasArt was just a small part of, it was bundled in with the whole deal.

        If you buy a used car it may come with vile stretchy seat covers, bumper stickers & fluffy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. You bought the car for the car itself, you just remove & dump the additional stuff you don't want.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: you just remove & dump the additional stuff you don't want.

          And you don't have a problem equating fluffy dice and vile seat covers with people? I see them as quite different and would say people's livelihoods are a little more important.

          I stand by my point, this is asset stripping and at the very least those who lose their jobs should be entitled to a generous redundancy. No doubt those who engineered the deal are getting a healthy bonus.

          1. Corinne

            Re: you just remove & dump the additional stuff you don't want.

            Asset stripping is defined as buying a company with the intent to profit from selling the individual parts for more than the purchase price of the whole.

            Whether you agree or not with what Disney did, they did NOT buy the whole of the Star Wars empire from Lucas with the intention of stripping it of it's assets. In this case they have closed one very small part of the company that is apparently making a loss going by past records and the fact they have already "let go" a very large number of staff in the last few years and have outsourced much of the work they were doing. Closing down a division is if anything the opposite of asset stripping, in that they didn't sell anything let alone for a profit.

            Yes it's very sad that people will be made redundant, people are losing their jobs every day in all industry sectors because the companies they work for are losing money or going under. Disney aren't a charity, they won't keep open a loss making part of the business out of the goodness of their hearts and there's no reason why they should. If there is the capacity in the games development market for the work the devs were doing then they will get other jobs (assuming they are any good), and if there isn't the capacity then Disney were right from their point of view to close the division.

            1. sabroni Silver badge

              Re: you just remove & dump the additional stuff you don't want.

              I know Disney aren't a charity, I'm not suggesting they are. I'm suggesting that if you buy a company then make people redundant shortly after there should be recompense for those made redundant. You seem to be disagreeing with that, can you explain why you think that's wrong? Do you agree that Disney shouldn't have bought the games company if they were just going to shut it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Burying it

      Well, not just the funny smart stuff. Rember the XWing games? Brillant, simple, largely repetitive yet challenging fun, and with great opportunity (never properly realised) for on line modes. And given the graphic simplicity, these could have been further developed at very low cost with simple improvements to the models, more campaigns and decent online modes.

      But after XWing Alliance Lucasarts simply gave up, and kept on producing garbage Jedi sim after garbage Jedi sim, with the inevitable consequence. Whilst it would be easy to assume that things can get no worse, with Disney looking to fabricate some new movies, and to licence games development, I'm sure they can and will get a whole lot worse.

  8. thesykes

    Shame...

    My 6-year-old daughter loves playing Day Of The Tentacle on my Nexus. Maybe it's the cartoon graphics, the lack of time limits or just being able to wander around at your own pace, but something appeals to her.

    Shame that games these days demand split-second timing, loud irritating "music" and minimal puzzle-solving. The imagination needed to create DOTT, Sam n Max etc is sorely missed.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Shame...

      I disagree. There is tons of variety and imagination in the current games market, it's bizarre that you're claiming it isn't so. From the 70p time wasters on iOS and android to full price console games there is more choice than there's ever been, with lots of titles that involve neither split second timing or loud irritating "music". Stop moaning and take a look around, there's loads to play whatever your taste!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shame...

        A choice of lots of crap is still crap choice

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Shame...

      Some of those folks are still working. 'The Cave' from Double Fine is written by some of the people behind the LucasArts originals and has some of the same humour.

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Go

      O_O

      You forgot Full Throttle

      /me sends the Duracel bunnies after thesykes

    4. Ian Yates

      Re: Shame...

      Check out "Ben There, Dan That" and it's sequel "Time Gentlemen, Please!".

      Not quite as long as DOTT, Sam and Max, Full Throttle, etc., but still a good laugh on a similar vein.

    5. Haku
      Go

      Re: Shame...

      Three words for you thesykes:

      Double Fine Adventure

      The kickstarter point'n'click adventure game from the people behind Monkey Island, Grim Fandango etc. that raised over $3 million a year ago now has a proper name and a trailer you can watch:

      Broken Age

      1. Ian Yates
        Unhappy

        Re: Shame...

        I'm a big fan of Double Fine. I've always considered it a great injustice that Psychonauts passed so many people by

    6. Greg J Preece

      Re: Shame...

      Shame that games these days demand split-second timing, loud irritating "music" and minimal puzzle-solving. The imagination needed to create DOTT, Sam n Max etc is sorely missed.

      I want you to look up a company called Telltale Games.

      And as others have said, just because Call of Duty and Halo make a lot of noise, doesn't for a second mean they're all there is out there.

  9. Rampant Spaniel

    Whilst this is extremely hard for the staff, I hope they will get picked up quickly, perhaps this is a good oppertunity for someone to pickup the rights to xwing \ tie etc and release new updated versions. Perhaps I am donning rose tinted goggles but they were epic games and are probably some of the few titles that I would actually pay current game prices to purchase. I spent a lot of time attacking corvettes etc would be awesome to see those games brought bang up to date! I hadn't heard any rumours about LA doing it, disney wouldn't have a clue themselves so maybe someone else will buy the rights, would make sense for them to grab some of the staff as well. Maybe add a bonus level where you just slay that jamjar creature!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "this is a good oppertunity for someone to pickup the rights to xwing \ tie etc "

      If only. If you haven't been there, you might want to look up XWing Upgrade, a sort of open souce development of XWing Alliance using the mission and model editors. Unfortunately you need to load all the mods one at a time, do some (very lightwieght) hex editing of the executable to run in widescreen, and you've still got the risk of incompatibility with W7 or 8.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ledswinger

        Interesting you should say that. XWAU now has an all-in one installer for all the opts, a batch file thingy to do the video mode editing and a 64-bit installer for recent OSs, so the problems have been largely eliminated :) I used those to install it on 8 a couple of weeks ago, so can vouch for it on 8 but not 7. Sorry I don't have the URLs - though I'd hung onto them ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Ledswinger

          Oops - the batch file and installer are on other sites.

          http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-x-wing-alliance-upgrade-project/downloads/x-wing-alliance-installer

          http://sourceforge.net/projects/xwahacker/files/ : I think this is the one I used for the widescreen. Buggers up the main menu if you use Esc in-mission, but you can still make it out.

          There are ATI- and NVidia-specific fixes for certain issues too.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: @Ledswinger

            Thank you both! Although my children may now starve ;-) When a 'fanbase' for want of a better word, goes to these lengths it's crazy not to put out another game. They could have some serious fun with modern graphics, allow you to fly into atmospheres with realistic clouds and terrain etc. I'd happily pay 60 bucks for that game and it seems plenty of others would too!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Unhappy

              Re: @Ledswinger

              The horror! The fucking horror!

              Having been informed that there's a batch update (thanks AC), I'VE LOOKED FOR, AND REALISED I'VE LOST THE FUCKING INSTALL DISK FOR XWA!

              NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

              Which at least suggests that in space people can read your screams.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    The LucasArts I mourn died over 15 years ago

    I was sad to hear they were closing. But then I realised I was sad because they were the people who produced Monkey Island, Rescue On Fractalus and X-Wing, not because they were the people who now churned out hundreds of bland Star Wars games.

    The LucasArts I mourn died over 15 years ago.

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: The LucasArts I mourn died over 15 years ago

      Oh god, the memories!

      There was a trio of "Fractal engine" games that LucasArts brought out for the Commodore 64, including the one you mention: Rescue On Fractalus, Koronis Rift and The Eidolon. These were groundbreaking stuff, the first to use fractally-generated 3D environments in a game, as opposed to the preset tiles method of building game worlds that had been the norm up until then.

      I loved all three, and wasted many a month of my youth playing them. I particularly loved Koronis Rift; the quest to salvage spaceship parts from hulks dotted about the landscape, and the mini-game of assembling them, made for an engrossing game experience at a time when the vast majority of games were repetitive RSI-engendering button-mashing scrolly-shoot-em-ups like Delta, Sanxion, Zaxxon, Ollo and the like - if you'd played one, you'd played them all. KR was a refreshing change and kept me busy for ages, until Paul Woakes came out with Mercenary and that took over my life for most of that year!

  11. Crisp Silver badge

    I really liked LucasArts

    Loom was quite possibly one of the best adventure/puzzle games of all time.

  12. Afflicted.John
    Mushroom

    Silver lining to this is the licensing rights. There is a sodding great big market for an HD X-Wing for 2013. The same goes for chance to port SCUMMVM games outside of bloody iOS.

    It might seem like asset stripping but Lucasarts best days have long gone and Disney are making a pragmatic decision. There will be a plethora of new Star Wars games in the future and the bunsen burner will be lit under the developing houses to make sure they turn in a good product at the end of it. It's Business.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You do know SCUMMVM is available on Android? Has been for years.

  13. jai

    these are not the games you're looking for

    i was really looking forward to 1313 :(

  14. Shasta McNasty
    Meh

    Hard to blame them

    Lucasarts have produced some very poor content recently with a lot of the emphasis being on "its a star wars game!" rather than its a GOOD game set in the star wars universe.

    Game designers should go back to basics. Here's a 486 DX-2 66Mhz, now design a game on that which is fun to play, addictive and has longevity. Once you have that, then hand it over to the graphics/audio guys who get to tart it up on better hardware.

  15. Radelix
    Mushroom

    Disney...

    You can take my TIE fighter disc from my cold dead hands

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disney...

      "You can take my TIE fighter disc from my cold dead hands"

      Looks like they're not interested in trying.

    2. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: TIE Fighter?

      Who in their right mind would fly a TIE fighter?

      Those things are death traps!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TIE Fighter? @Crisp

        Ahem. I believe the correct term as used in the novella is "Rickety death trap."

      2. ElPoto

        Re: TIE Fighter?

        Tie Advanced (Avenger) and Tie Defender have shields :) but they are death instruments.

  16. reno79

    The little we were shown of 1313 until now actually showed promise. While I agree LucasArts haven't really shone in recent years this act of corporate barbarism from Disney doesn't exactly promote them as having faith in the Star Wars franchise beyond pumping out a quick trilogy for $$$ and abandoning everything.

  17. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  18. promytius
    Thumb Down

    misunderstanding

    The last thing Lucas said to Disney was -"That thing? The long cylinder that lights up? That's a new nanotechnology - it's a suppository and it's for itches you can't scratch- try it"

    Walt wishes there was life after death - he'd of been back years ago to tear out the throats of all Disney suits.

    I haven't given a penny to Disney since they started 'seasonal' releases of their classics - I went to but a video for a birthday present and was told they only sold it during certain months of the year - I decided I would therefore only BUY Disney movies in months that had the word ASSHOLE in them...

  19. The BigYin

    I guess this explains the GPL drop

    http://www.desura.com/news/full-jedi-academy-and-jedi-outcast-source-code-released

    Hopefully the devs can get some love from the F/OSS community.

    Or another employer.

  20. ecofeco Silver badge
    Meh

    At first I was miffed

    Then I realized Lucas Arts hasn't produced anything worth mentioning in the last 10 years.

    Which is the real story in my opinion, the core of which is "and why haven't they?"

  21. DrGoon

    I felt a small disturbance in the Force...

    as if dozens of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something mildly unpleasant has happened.

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: I felt a small disturbance in the Force...as if dozens of voices suddenly cried out in terror

      When they found out that they got Mickey Moused.

  22. Yorkshirepudding
    Pint

    Cd\tiecd

    Alpha one Mission critical craft under attack!

    Alpha one mission critical craft shields down!

    Alpha one mission critical craft hull condition critical

    Alpha one mission critical craft destroyed

    ABORT NISSION MISSION A FAILURE

    /smash keyboard

  23. Durwin

    Rogue Leaders

    I look to my right and see one of my most beloved books "Rogue Leaders - The Story of LucasArts" and think this would be an appropriate time to re-live their formative glories over some wine this weekend... <sigh>

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