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IGN: The Death of LucasArts?


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Initial post: Mar 11, 2013 5:49:25 PM PDT
Dukeshire says:
http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/03/11/hey-lucasarts-get-your-act-together

Hey LucasArts, Get Your Act Together

Countless missteps and lack of direction are robbing gamers of great experiences.

by Ryan McCaffrey
March 11, 2013

I've had it with LucasArts. The publisher/developer's latest head-scratching move, allegedly pumping the brakes on the promising third-person next-gen bounty-hunting action game Star Wars 1313, leaves me to wonder if - or rather, why - the once-proud subsidiary of Lucasfilm has now become a joke that gamers are the butt of.

This is a studio sitting on a treasure trove of beloved brands, and yet, when was their last Indiana Jones game that didn't star a Lego figure? Or a Star Wars title in the marketplace's most popular genre, first-person shooters? Only the big-budget MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic can be considered a bold effort. In fact, their triple-A (read: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and/or PC) output during this console generation can be generally summed up as: three Lego Star Wars games, Two Lego Indiana Jones titles, a pair of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed releases, The Old Republic, and Kinect Star Wars. And of those, only the original Force Unleashed (six-plus million copies sold) made any substantial impact at retailer cash registers. That potential franchise withered on the vine after Force Unleashed II fizzled with both critics and consumers.

Worse, their highest-rated games in this console era, using Metacritic as the evaluator, aren't even new titles! Indeed, the most well-received offerings have been enhanced rereleases of two of the company's 20-year-old classics: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (Metacritic average: 88 out of 100) and Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge (Metacritic: 85).

That's a rudderless ship if I've ever seen one and, quite frankly, it's embarrassing to the company and just plain sad for us customers, who just want to play great games in the popular universes that LucasArts controls. And it's an output would've shuttered most other companies not owned by a billion-dollar (and now a bajillion-dollar) entertainment monolith a long time ago (see: THQ).

But it goes much deeper than the products themselves. The problems trace back to the top of the LucasArts food chain: company president. LucasArts has had no fewer than five bosses in the last eight years, and none of them - not Jim Ward (2004-2008), Darrell Rodriguez (2008-2010), Paul Meegan (2010-2012), or the current pair of interim co-presidents, Kevin Parker and Gio Corsi - have been able to set a consistent vision for the company. They've grown. They've shrunk. They've dabbled in digital titles and then stopped. They've tried to create blockbusters and then given up.

Clint Hocking - the respected creator of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Far Cry 2, and others - was brought in to lead internal development in 2010. Within two years he'd departed LucasArts with no games even announced, let alone released. Star Wars: Battlefront was a massive multiplayer-centric franchise in the waning days of the last console generation with the strong potential to have continued its success on Xbox 360 and PS3, but they couldn't get a game out and the series inexplicably died. Fracture was so terrible that, according to my source that was at LucasArts at the time, Ward ripped the game at its original internal demo.

More recently, The Old Republic fared well out of the gate, but quickly lost steam and had to abandon its subscription model in favor of free-to-play. And then, of course, there's the infamous Kinect Star Wars. What was once Kinect's Great Hardcore Hope became a 200-person money sink that shipped with a damn Vader-dancing rhythm mini-game and must've cost the company tens of millions after a woeful critical and commercial reception.

And as for Star Wars 1313? It seemed well-positioned to become LucasArts's next big franchise, a planted seed that appeared ready to grow and bear fruit for the better part of the next generation of consoles. Now, it's the latest etching in the headstone of a publisher that used to be among the most popular, respected, and innovative in the gaming industry. Worse, LucasArts is heading into the next hardware round with exactly zero projects announced. Sigh. Long gone are the days of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, the Jedi Knight series, and the adventure game golden era of 1988-1998. (Side note: to read more about that time, pick up the excellent book Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts, written by longtime video game journalist Rob Smith.)

More importantly, with Disney in control of Lucasfilm and clearly looking to leverage the company's assets by greenlighting numerous Star Wars movie projects, it's only a matter of time before LucasArts's new owners realize that they've got a game studio too and begin pumping out a whole galaxy full of new Star Wars games. But by then it may be too late for gamers. If LucasArts doesn't get its act together and come up with a sound organizational roadmap very soon, Disney might swoop in, assume control, and begin ordering game after game with no regard for quality.

Of course, maybe, just maybe, Disney will take the same approach they have with the movies and find the best talent out there to revitalize the game studio. But until then - if it happens at all - gamers continue to be robbed of some of entertainment's biggest and most beloved brands. So for the love of Han Solo, LucasArts, make something. You used to make games and care about your customers. And while I fully recognize that this is a for-profit industry and that the latter isn't required for the former, at least you took action. These days, you don't seem to do either.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 5:52:55 PM PDT
It's a shame the studio that gave us the masterpiece Grim Fandango isn't doing well. Sad to see all of this happened.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2013 5:56:16 PM PDT
Force Unleashed sucked.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 5:59:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2013 5:59:39 PM PDT
UziHorowitz says:
A new KOTOR would've been a far better investment than TOR. EA and LucasArts need to learn a thing or two.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 6:01:58 PM PDT
DVvM says:
Please release Grim Fandango on Steam or GoG or Origin something. If you want to do a special edition like you did with the two Monkey Island games, that would be great. Otherwise, just release it as is. Please.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 6:02:05 PM PDT
I actually liked The Force Unleashed. I was hoping for a third game.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2013 6:07:07 PM PDT
Dukeshire says:
What games do you like? See this is what I am talking about, everything is negative when it comes to you. I actually might agree with you on some stuff (the transgendered girl) but dude, relax....

And yes the Force Unleashed while it didn't suck was pretty average.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 6:12:53 PM PDT
Finger says:
This article is spot-on. Lucasarts has become great at giving its fans what they don't want. Forget the often begged for X-Wing remakes, KOTOR 3 or any number of other greats. We may even lose 1313, but we get more Lego and The Old Republic. Just terrific.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 6:17:17 PM PDT
Dukeshire says:
Clone Wars was axed too.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 7:05:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2013 7:25:03 PM PDT
well with a prognosis like that, good riddance.

at least make star wars public domain.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 7:07:21 PM PDT
Kirksplosion says:
It's a real friggin' bummer if they shut down LucasArts. 1313 is the first Star Wars game I've been seriously excited for since Knights of the Old Republic. Le sigh.

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 9:24:11 PM PDT
Dammit, hopefully they stay alive. Not only does 1313 look cool, but I'm also hoping for a Rogue Squadron IV on Wii U. At least a 3D/HD remake of the first three.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 3:39:26 AM PDT
Kin-foot says:
KOTOR was BioWare but yeah, I would have loved to see KOTOR 3

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 3:59:01 AM PDT
J. says:
Loom 2. Anyone? Anyone?

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 4:07:23 AM PDT
MrFoxhound says:
LucasArts... LucasArts? LucasArts...? Nope, don't recognize that name at all.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 4:40:04 AM PDT
I was hoping for another battlefront game.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 5:58:19 AM PDT
JWK says:
Wait, is 1313 cancelled or delayed?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2013 5:59:52 AM PDT
MrFoxhound says:
Sounds delayed, but don't worry, I'm sure they'll cancel it all together. After all, can't take any money from the budget of Masters of Teras Kasi 2.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2013 6:20:22 AM PDT
I feel bad to a degree but at some point I realize that they are sitting on a goldmine of amazing IPs that they aren't really doing anything with. I had a small hope that Disney would have come in and treated it a bit like when they bought Pixar. Essentially making sure LucasArts has the funding and resources to pull off great games but not going in and messing around with the creative tallent.

Let's pour one out for the great IPs we will probably never see a good game from again.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2013 6:21:40 AM PDT
This is the oddest thing. It's freakin free money at this point, if they release it they will get more money for almost no effort.

Hopefully under Disney they will release it as they are big fans of making money while Lucas was a big fan of hording stuff because he could.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 6:35:11 AM PDT
Nicos says:
Hey! They forgot Star Wars Pinball! Both the Empire Strikes Back and the Boba Fett table are excellent.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 6:36:30 AM PDT
M. Stifler says:
1313 looked great, and I've always loved their N64 games like Pod Racer. That game was a blast!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2013 6:51:28 AM PDT
Pod Racer, was amazing. I loved playing that in arcades and at home.

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 7:13:48 AM PDT
Lair?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2013 7:17:57 AM PDT
Benpachi says:
The same people made Rogue Squadron, so that's relevant!
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  30
Total posts:  52
Initial post:  Mar 11, 2013
Latest post:  Mar 12, 2013

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