Less than six months ago, Disney acquired Lucasfilm and its LucasArts gaming division for $4 billion in cash and stock. Now, it appears the gaming studio's days are numbered. Game Informer has the scoop, including confirmation from Disney that it's "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." According to Disney, this decision has prompted "layoffs across the organization." Kotaku puts the number at 150.
LucasArts has developed games since the 80s, so it's sad to see the division become a licensing farm. It looks likes like Disney is going to milk its newly acquired IP for all it's worth. I'm especially disappointed because the future of the upcoming Star Wars 1313 appears to be in jeopardy. The LucasArts-developed game was due this year, and the trailer shows off a much grittier side of the universe than we're used to seeing in Star Wars games and movies.
In a separate piece, Game Informer quotes a Disney representative as saying Star Wars 1313 "can still come out via licensing." However, it sounds like LucasArts' involvement as both developer and a publisher has ended.
I didn't play a lot of LucasArts titles over the years, but I have very fond memories of the Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, and Tie Fighter games. The studio was also responsible for Grim Fandango, the Monkey Island franchise, and a handful of Indiana Jones games, among others. Let's hope talented studios can resurrect Star Wars 1313 and deliver on the potential of LucasArts' other properties.