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Video Games

Disney Ends LucasArts Video Game Development, and That's OK

Screenshot from LucasArts game Star Wars 1313

Courtesy LucasArts

Screenshot from LucasArts game Star Wars 1313

Disney unexpectedly announced today that it’s ceasing development at Lucasfilm’s game division barely fours months after acquiring the company for $4 billion. A spokesman told Bloomberg News that LucasArts will still license content but won’t make any more games itself. Star Wars devotees were looking forward to long awaited Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars: 1313. The website Kotaku said these games have been canceled.

This might not seem like terribly urgent news to the average person. But Star Wars is no ordinary entertainment franchise. Last month, fans were irate when Disney canceled the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon series on Cartoon Network.

This is what Deadline had to say about the demise of LucasArts:

Employees at LucasArts were notified this morning that the Disney-owned company is discontinuing production and that its games strategy will shift to a licensing model. The decision means that more than 150 employees will be laid off, which follows pink slips in the animation division after the announcement that the TV series Star Wars: Clone Wars would be coming to an end as the company heads in a new TV direction.

Maybe passionate Star Wars fans should hold their fire this time. One of the reasons why the Clone Wars series and the pending video games were such a big deal was that there were no Star Wars movies to go see. Disney may seem uninterested in game or cartoon projects, but it’s hugely invested in making better Star Wars movies. Fans were elated in January when the company comfired rumors that geek idol J.J. Abrams will direct the next Star Wars film. Ulimately, the success of the upcoming Epiosde Seven, to be released in 2015, is more important to the health of the universe George Lucas created than a video game.

This is Disney’s franchise now. Star Wars fans will have to get used to that. Sooner or later, it’s likely to pay off for them, too.

Leonard is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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