Anyone who has been part of a company during a merger or acquisition knows the uncertainty of restructuring and the fear of being deemed redundant.  (There’s a reason Patrick Bateman’s story isn’t called “American Well-Adjusted Feller.”)  Having lived with that uncertainty a time or three in the call center game, I expected that Disney would have some ideas on how to streamline operations, which made this week’s announcement of the closing of Lucasarts no surprise.  Indeed, given the reactions to Star Wars Kinect and other recent offerings, a change in venue for Lucas’ video games seems like a gimme.  With Disney seemingly planning to license their stuff to other developers, we might even be on the edge of a new Golden Age of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Willow vidja games…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always. “misquoted”) finds your lack of faith disturbing but still invites you to join it and rule the galaxy together as Question and Spoilerite, asking: Do you think the shuttering of LucasArts is a sign of big things to come or a harbinger of doooooom for the galaxy far, far away?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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21 Comments

  1. April 4, 2013 at 11:40 am — Reply

    Most of the games LucasArts put out were done by different developers, with LA simply publishing them. Disney Interactive Studio’s publishing library isn’t any better than LucasArts’.

    I doubt this will have any impact whatsoever.

  2. Christina
    April 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm — Reply

    The closing of LucasArts could have some impact on the material, but I doubt very much will happen. I’m honestly more concerned about the massive job loss.

  3. April 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm — Reply

    I don’t think it will have a huge impact on Star Wars games. I’m almost certain we’ll still see more Star Wars games, just under different labels by different publishers.

    I do feel bad for all those job losses, though. I also wonder where the Lucasarts games that were in production will end up (if they do end up anywhere at all).

  4. AED
    April 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm — Reply

    let’s see who’s the ruler of Latveria………DOOM

  5. April 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm — Reply

    I’m most concerned that the shuttering of LucasArts will go hand in hand with the withdrawal of the licenses for the adventure games owned by LA (Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Grim Fandango, etc.) to anyone who would actually use them. If we know that Disney will either (a) let the licenses stand, even if they aren’t currently actively in development or (b) let us know they have plans to use them, I’m afraid they’ll sit in a copyright vault somewhere & rot. In fact, that was my one & only fear when Disney acquired LucasFilm – that anything not named “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones” would be neglected.

    • gary
      April 5, 2013 at 8:44 am — Reply

      My initial reaction was to “Second!” this, but now that I think about it, LA has largely been neglecting those titles anyway, so maybe it doesn’t much matter. Maniac Mansion is one of the most beloved properties of all time (for video game nerds) and it’s not seen any attention in 20 years…

  6. April 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm — Reply

    As far as I’m concerned, LucasArts has been gone for awhile now.

    However, I am sad that Star Wars 1313 is being mothballed. I haven’t played a Star Wars game since Jedi Academy, but this one looked good!

  7. April 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm — Reply

    I’m more saddened by the historical loss, seeing as how LucasArts delivers some great classics like “Zombies Ate My Neighbors”, “Monkey Island”, “Rogue Squadron” and “Shadows of the Empire”. This properties are still in the hands of Disney, but I wonder if they will be the same without the developers.

  8. Ricco
    April 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm — Reply

    I was under the impression Lucas Art had been taken to the back of the barn and pumped full of lead after Episode 1: A Jar Jar Menace…

  9. AllenBT
    April 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm — Reply

    First off, its been forever since LucasArts had anything approaching a hit. Teaser footage and critical commentary on projects in development like Star Wars 1313 don’t count.

    But really, this is more symptomatic of the health (or lack there of) of the video game industry than any commentary on Disney’s stewardship of the former Lucas properties.

    The fact of the mater is its very difficult to make money making video games right now and virtually impossible with so called Triple A titles. These games require years of development and have budgets on par with feature films. And they have uniformly lost money, unless they had the words “Call of Duty” “Halo” or “Madden” in the titles.

    The former LucasArts titles will end up licensed out to smaller developers willing to take the financial risks, and we’ll likely see smaller, tighter iterations of the classics. Or even out to larger developers like Ubisoft.

    And if there isn’t a compelling proposal, Disney is perfectly willing to sit on an IP until the climate improves. I’d much rather see that than a half-assed effort like Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines.

    And let’s turn the discussion on its head for a moment. Aside the former Harrison Ford vehicles, which classic L/A video game IP’s would you like to see the House of the Mouse turn into animated or live action features? Monkey Island movie anyone?

    • B.V.K.
      April 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm — Reply

      There are so many incorrect statements in this that I don’t know where to start.

      • Mike
        April 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm — Reply

        How about starting with what the incorrect statements are, maybe? Y’know, for the people who DON’T troll the internet 24/7?

        • B.V.K.
          April 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm — Reply

          Ok wiseguy:
          1. As a global industry video games still produces more revenue then music and movies combined so to say that there is a lack of health in the industry is absurd. Add to this that the next gen of systems is literally a few months away with all the revenue it will bring. Sure the industry has dropped as a whole by a few percentage points but what hasn’t in this economy? By Christmas time this year it will bounce back as we all scurry for the PS4 and Next Box.

          2. To say that it has been forever since LucasArts had anything approaching a hit when Force Unleashed sold over six million units and Force Unleashed II sold over 2 million units (both games of this generation) is just wrong numerically.

          3. While it is difficult to make money with AAA video games, it is not “virtually impossible”. Lets take a look at one of the most recent AAA “failures” Tomb Raider (notice its name is not Halo or COD). The game cost approx. 200 million to make and market, but in less than a month it sold 3.5 million units. So in less than a month it made its money back plus 10 million dollars. The only reason it was deemed a failure by Square was because they had projected it to sell 5-6 million units, which was unrealistic considering all the competition it is up against currently. There are other examples of this happening but a lot of the time the AAA failures are not based on a poor game but poor business models or projections. One thing AAA games have not done is “uniformly lost money.”

          4. Disney just spent 4 billion dollars on LucasArts and they didn’t do so for charity. They expect to make money on their investments which means that they are probably not “perfectly willing” to sit on their properties. If they don’t do anything with their properties, then they are not making money with them and the mouse won’t allow that.

          Finally to you Mike, perhaps I should have written “I don’t want to start” instead of “I don’t know where to start.” At the time I just shook my head at the statements but didn’t feel like writing a novel to correct it. That is until I saw your misguided statement. If you bothered to check the other MSQOTED threads you would see that I post pretty regularly and don’t troll “24/7”. People who do that here tend to get booted.

          • Mike
            April 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm — Reply

            You misunderstand me, sir. There was nothing ‘misguided’ about my statement. I saw someone (regardless of how much said person has been posting at a particular site, as if that excuses anything) shoot down another person’s comment, without so much as a by-your-leave, so to speak. So I simply asked you to put yer money where yer mouth is.

            And look at that! You did! Well done, sir! Was that so hard? :) Perhaps next time you feel the need to discount someone’s opinion so quickly, you’ll think about supporting your OWN stance, instead of simply deriding others. Thanks!

            Also, your post was pretty informative, and I, for one, thank you for your hard work at providing proof for your original statement. :)

          • AllenBT
            April 6, 2013 at 11:51 am — Reply

            1st off, thanks for the discussion. I appreciate the value of intellectual discourse. Please, allow me to respond to your points.
            RE: #1, That’s absolutely correct, as a global industry, video games made somewhere north of $67 Billion in 2012, but to be fair, that includes market segments that L/A has very little to no participation in including the “casual games” segment. There’s some pretty strong sentiment that competition from tablets, and gaming alternatives like Ouya will make the next gen PS4 and Xbox “Durango” less successful than the current generation especially if the starting price is north of $500/unit. Several large developers had been forced to restructure over the last few months, and there’s no guarantee the next gen consoles will fix that trend toward lower cost games. This market segment is currently in trouble. I never said it was dead, but it has deep market issues. Will it turn around. Yes, it’s possible. But the hard core game segment isn’t healthy right now.
            RE: #2 I have to contend its been forever in this segment, since L/A had a real hit. Force Unleashed 2 was released in 2010. Sorry, but that’s forever in this industry. And while it did sell 2 million units, it had mediocre reviews, and in light of its estimated production costs, was a disappointment financially. Need more evidence. There was no sequel. Force Unleashed (1) did better, but that was 2008. I think my point stands. It’s been forever since L/A had a real hit.
            RE: #3 AAA games are in trouble. To paraphrase Jake Raymond, of Ubisoft, there’s room for perhaps 10 AAA games in this market per year. And the Call of Duty’s, Madden’s, etc. make up a lot of those hits. L/A didn’t have one in the pipeline.
            Since you brought it up let’s look at Tomb Raider, deemed a disappointment by Square. If it cost $200 million to produce, selling 3.5 million units does not even begin to break even, let alone turn a profit. Assuming a $60 transaction price, puts your gross sales at $210 million. BUT, Game Stop, Walmart, Target, et al are going to get their cut off the top. That varies by retailer of course, but its in the 20% range. So gross margin to the publisher is around $168 million. Or put another way, Lara Croft is still 600,000 units short of breaking even. And that’s assuming you financed the production from cash on hand. If you had to borrow some of the money, you’re in deeper after interest payments.
            RE: #4 Please note, I wrote Disney is perfectly willing to sit on an IP until the climate improves. No, Disney didn’t spend $4 Billion as charity. They will try to maximize the value of their IP’s and licensing them to another Developer, or utilizing them in another media seems to be their game plan. Clearly, whatever direction Lucas had L/A moving in it wasn’t the right one, at least as far as Disney is concerned.

  10. B.V.K.
    April 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm — Reply

    While it is not a harbinger of doom, I would not rush to say it is showing a bright future either given the recent efforts of Disney video games. Properties like Epic Mickey showed promise but disappointed both critically and financially. I can’t remember a positively reviewed game with Disney involvement since Kingdom Harts. I could be forgetting a family game or something but nothing comes to mind.
    That being said, Disney did not buy Lucas Arts to let their properties go to waste. We will at least see Star Wars 1313, more of the KOTOR, and (fingers crossed) Battlefront 3. I am sure we will get games with Indiana Jones, Monkey Island, etc. Hopefully they will put these properties into good hands for development. I would think that just by the sheer number of properties they own and the upcoming next gen systems we would have to get a few gems, even if it is a case of a blind squirrel finding a nut.

  11. B.V.K.
    April 6, 2013 at 10:07 am — Reply

    There are so many incorrect statements in this that I dont know where to start. (NOW im trolling) :)

    • April 6, 2013 at 10:39 am — Reply

      No.

      “Monkey Island sucked anyways. Good riddance!”

      THAT’S trolling ;)

  12. B.V.K.
    April 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm — Reply

    I can’t find a “reply” button on AllenBTs second posting so I have to start a new one to keep the party rolling. I’ll stick with the number system since that seems to be working for clarity and try to keep it short.

    #1 Every estimate I have read from Michale Pachter to Marcus Beer to CAG cast has PS4 at least coming out around $400 and I would be surprised of Microsoft went over them. Consoles are usually sold at a loss at the beginning of a new generation. Also I don’t think anyone really expects AAA games to go away. But hey, I tend to be an optimist when it comes to games. Finally it is very fair to use the whole industry in my analysis because those were your original words, which is what started all this in the first place.

    #2 This is just a difference of opinion. If its current generation I don’t think it has been forever. Sure there was no TFU III (yet) but 2 million is nothing to sneeze at. Of course i’ll still play RE5 and Bioshock I on occasion so our ideas of forever are different.

    #3 Remember that the 3.5 million units was only for first month. This game will easily sell 5-6 million over its life gaining a hefty profit of a couple hundred million dollars. The 200 million I quoted was an estimated TOTAL game cost from industry analysts. The same people that said that if a game sells 3.5 million and is a failure, then there is something wrong with your business model. Go watch Annoyed Gamer over on GT.com for this week and he goes into great detail on this.

    #4 I agree on the licensing part, L/A was already doing this with a lot of their games. However they are not going to wait around. A nice shiny nickle says that when Disney Infinite comes out next year there will be a Star Wars section in it. They won’t let the properties sit.

    Aaaaaaaand go!

    • AllenBT
      April 8, 2013 at 8:38 am — Reply

      OK, before I go any further, again thank you BVK for the intellectual sparing. Sometimes there’s too little of that on the internet. And here we go…
      #1 Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think AAA games are going away. But the market suggests that aside from first person shooters and sports, it is and is going to continue to be a tough go. Look, being geek is chic right now, but there just are not enough of us who are also console gamers, to make more than a handful of other types titles successful each year right now. And the engagement level for more casual consumers is at a low right now, so they’re not bolstering the numbers one bit. That might change with the next gen consoles, particularly the Xbox, which seems positioned to try to be all things media to all consumers, from music to movies to games. If Microsoft gets that marketing message across, and gets a whole bunch of Xbox 720’s (or whatever they’ll call it) into living rooms, maybe the game market will get healthy. But until they do, the math on a AAA budget makes it a tough go.

      #2 Just for the record, I’m one of those kooks who still has an old PC set up in the basement so I can play Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe every blue moon. That being said, unfortunately in this case Forever is being defined by the business people involved in this deal. And that’s 9 or 10 quarters in this context.

      #3 You are absolutely right. Lara Croft can certainly have a long tail and continue to post strong #’s. But I think it’s fair to say if Square is publically admitting it’s a disappointment, then it’s a disappointment. I don’t want us to get too hung up in the detail of the #’since this whole conversation is a back of the cocktail napkin thing, but if moving 3.5 million units = disappointment, then there definitely is something wrong with your business model. And really that’s my whole point.

      #4 I think we agree that Disney will do what it thinks is smart licensing wise with the L/A properties. I’m just saying don’t be surprised if Disney plays the long game here on some of the IP’s. Back in the day, unlike other studios, they were very reluctant to show their big movies on TV, and were happy to end Video sales periodically (losing some near term revenue) then re-release the movies with big fanfare.

      So I’d rather see some good content, rather than anything rushed out because they were under the gun. And if they think Star Wars 1313 wasn’t ready or going to be ready, or maybe just sucked, then please do cancel it and start over with another outside developer. Having it fail by shoving it out the door just damages the IP. Some of L/A’s licensing deals have turned out great. You may or may not like Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, but I thought it was pretty good, and more importantly, my kid loves it.

      Your ball…

  13. HipHopHead
    April 7, 2013 at 9:20 am — Reply

    Let’s forget FACTS!!! As I will present only a theory…based on Star Wars.

    LucasArts is Cloud City, Disney is the Empire, Lucas is Lando

    Empire made Lando an offer for Cloud City, he took it (just like his good friend Han Solo was all about the money until the end of Episode IV: A New Hope)

    Unlike Lando making a turn in Episode VI and assisting in the rescue of Han, I don’t expect Lucas to make a return.

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