For fans of such LucasArts games as “Star Wars,” the empire struck back on Wednesday — the Disney empire, that is.
Reports spread rapidly that LucasArts, based in San Francisco’s Presidio, had ceased production of games, laying off 150 people, according to multiple sources.
Game studio LucasArts is part of Lucasfilm, which Disney bought from filmmaker George Lucas in October for $4 billion.
Disney said it will continue licensing LucasArts’ existing properties. The gaming trade publication Kotaku questioned that strategy, reporting that the company has not been successful in efforts so far to find takers for “Star Wars: First Assault” and “Star Wars 1313.”
But Michael Pachter, who analyzes video games for Wedbush Securities, thinks the games will find a market. “There are plenty of studios for hire, many comprising employees who were let go from other companies,” he told KQED’s Erika Kelly. ” I am sure somebody will bid on the licenses.”
He said the move didn’t come as a surprise. Console games have been in a slump in general. Disney recently shuttered the studio Junction Point, maker of “Epic Mickey.” And Disney might have wanted only the filmmaking part of LucasFilm when it bought the company.
The Disney’s overall gaming division has been under pressure to produce profits and was missing its goals so it had to make cuts, Pachter said.
But the swiftness of the move surprised him. “I thought Disney would spend some time and evaluate the performance of the employees, because clearly there are some talented people working at Lucas. Clearly there are some people at Disney who might not be as good. So, I thought they’d give the LucasArts people a fair shot to compete for some Disney jobs.”
Even though the industry is in “a time of contraction,” the top LucasArts developers will quickly find new jobs at places like Zynga or Electronic Arts, he said.
“There really are other places for people to go and talented people are going to find a place to go because there always is demand for super-talented game developers,” he said.
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