By Dave Bouressa
The Disney/Star Wars news just keeps getting better and better. After the recent news of Disney canceling Star Wars The Clone Wars, and then pretty much demolishing Lucasfilm Animation, Mickey Mouse is not done with his tyrannical rule over his new empire.
A new article from GameIndustry.biz has some grim news...
Disney has announced the beginning of production on Star Wars Episode VII, to be directed by noted director JJ Abrams; the cancellation of the acclaimed animated series The Clone Wars after 100 episodes; and Seth Green's planned Star Wars: Detours comedy has been shelved for now. The speculation among Hollywood insiders is that Disney wants to focus efforts on the new movie, and wants to remove possible distractions (other licensed Star Wars shows) from the entertainment landscape.
The last few years have been turbulent for LucasArts, with a series of executive changes and downsizings. Jim Ward headed up the company from 2004 to 2008; he was followed by Howard Roffman as interim until Darrell Rodriguez took over and was replaced by Paul Meegan in 2010; Meegan left in 2012, and the studio has not yet chosen a permanent president.
The game slate for LucasArts has been pared down to only one that's promoted on its web site: Star Wars 1313. The game is a third-person adventure game, seemingly similar to a BioWare game, and it caused quite a positive buzz at E3 last year. Kotaku has reported that the three different sources told them the game was put on hold since the acquisition, but LucasArts denied this, saying that "Star Wars 1313 continues production." Kotaku also reported that Star Wars: First Assault, a multiplayer shooter, may never be released given the uncertainty about the future of LucasArts and its direction.
MTV.com had this to say about it...
With the new trilogy from J.J. Abrams on the orizon, Disney might be concerned that a gritty shooter could cause some brand confusion depending on which direction they decide to go with their take on the franchise.
Last month, Kotaku reported that the studio was beginning to bleed talent as employees uncertain about their prospects began to jump ship for more stable opportunities. This brain drain--with no new influx of talent--could ultimately be what spells the end for LucasArts.
At this point, LucasArts has denied any shutdown, but if there is one thing that people have learned about Lucasfilm as a company, it's that they are very good at lying until they want you to know exactly what is going on behind their closed doors. Everything is simply rumor at this point, until Lucasfilm and/or LucasArts admits to it, or puts out an official word that the rumors are false. But the evidence that has been surrounding LucasArts over the past few years is pretty substantial...
Let's take a look at the most recent Star Wars games on everyone's minds:
-Force Unleashed 3-Dead
-The Old Republic-Started strong, but a year later is practically on life support
-First Assault-Was reported to be doing somewhat well, then drastically disappeared from every source. All videos have been pulled on behalf of Lucasfilm.
-1313-Reported to not be doing well.
Now let's look at the RELEASED Star Wars games that fulfilled exactly what they promised:
-Star Wars Kinect
-Star Wars Angry Birds
-Lego Star Wars
Seeing the pattern here?
Essentially, LucasArts is, and has been for quite some time, in a production Limbo. Just about every product that people want has been shut down or is not doing well, to be replaced by "casual games" and games that will not interfere with future plans regarding Star Wars as a franchise. And judging from the reports, it seems as though either Disney is going to shut the entire thing down, or put it into their own hands.
From a business perspective, it makes sense for Disney to do this...kind of. They own it now, and want to run it their way by putting it in the hands of their own people. I get that. It's a bad move, but it makes sense to a slight degree. However, when you break the trust of Star Wars fans everywhere by taking away what they love to replace it with stuff that is "in Disney's best interest", what kind of profit are you going to make? Disney is only hurting their own cause.
Shutting down LucasArts on top of the "Star Wars genocide" they have already done by shutting down Lucasfilm Animation, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (quite aggressively, I might add) could just be too much for most Star Wars fans to handle. We have been hoping for years to see Battlefront III show up at E3. We knew it was never going to happen, but it's that slight optimism that keeps us going. By shutting down LucasArts, Disney is killing that hope. And at the end of the day, that's what Star Wars is all about; that "new hope", waiting for the end of the dark times, but unfortunately, as more and more news is released, it appears that the dark times are only just beginning...