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As much as I adore Star Wars, the demise of LucasArts didn’t tug at my heart strings. Certainly 150 people losing their jobs is a tragedy. However, this outcome wasn’t surprising given their development track record. Very few outstanding Star Wars games were created internally at LucasArts. Particularly in recent years, it seemed the company didn’t even have a creative pulse. Looking back, it was all outside talent that did the Star Wars video game brand justice. Bearing that in mind, I view the chance to exclusively license out these properties a good thing.
Assuming these licenses are handled with care, Star Wars games will experience a renaissance. Renowned triple-A studios will put the franchise back on the map. History shows us third-party Star Wars titles tend to have superior quality-control. LucasArts developed messes like Bounty Hunter, The Force Unleashed and Masters of Teräs Käsi. In contrast, Knights of the Old Republic, Battlefront, and even X-Wing were all crafted externally. Clearly, the divide is steep. Moving forward, Star Wars games should benefit from enhanced quality and variety. I don’t worry too much about Disney whoring out rights, either. Their conservative management style preserves franchises; it doesn’t fatigue them.
However, Disney was considerably liberal in canceling all the promising projects LucasArts had going. I am very upset that 1313 and First Assault may never happen. Apparently, George Lucas wanted the former reworked into a Boba Fett game. The bizarre gallery of bounty hunters (especially Boba Fett) is my favorite thing about the Star Wars universe. For me, it would have been a dream come true.
The same could also be said of First Assault, which was intended to test the commercial waters surrounding Battlefront 3. Conquering the large-scale war zones of Battlefront 2 was one of my favorite activities. For years, I have pined for a reason to take up arms as a lowly grunt again. Footage was released for both titles; they each adopted a fascinatingly gritty aesthetic. Unfortunately, a part of me is convinced LucasArts valued style over substance. Perhaps 1313 would be better off with a studio like Naughty Dog and First Assault with DICE.
I can’t say for sure. All I can guarantee is that every gamer is grieving in his own way. For a long time, LucasArts was a big player in the industry. So much of its work helped shape the gaming landscape. It didn’t just push Star Wars content, either. LucasArts created many original intellectual properties as well. Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Outlaws, and even Zombies Ate My Neighbors are to its credit.
LucasArts was a pervasive company, and the millions across the globe who took pause at its passing is a testament to its impact on games. But as sad its departure is, I’m glad its properties have new opportunity to thrive.