Five days ago on April 3rd, 2013, the gaming community, ranging from gamers and journalists to developers and publishers, were rocked to their core by the closure of LucasArts. Parent company Disney has decided to go a different way: licensing their franchises, namely Star Wars, instead of developing the games in-house. It was a dark day for all involved, especially for the fans of such classic series as Monkey Island and Dark Forces. The implications for the PlayStation 4 are two-fold but first, for the newer generation of gamers reading this, let's look at why LucasArts closing down has the industry in tears.
First and foremost, LucasArts is best known for popularizing the adventure game genre. Classic games such as Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Loom and Grim Fandango proved there was a place for games where brainpower and fantastic writing prevailed over reflexes and violence. However, LucasArts wasn't just a one-trick pony, as they covered the other spectrum as well with game such as Dark Force, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, X-wing Vs. Tie Fighter, Outlaws and Armed and Dangerous. When you saw LucasArts on the package, you knew you were in for not just a game, but an experience; while it's true the company wasn't exactly producing the hits in its later years, games such as Star Wars: Republic Commando showed the company still had that spark. Some of the biggest names in gaming today, such as Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, got their start at LucasArts; the fact that this studio is now just a memory will leave an empty void in every old-school gamer's heart.
As we look to the future, what this means for the PlayStation 4 first and foremost is that upcoming game Star Wars 1313 is now cancelled. While we won't go into details in this article, you can check out PS4 Expert's look at the game in progress, the cancellation news and the surprising mystery reveal of the game's protagonist in our Star Wars 1313 page. For those of you who were saddened or angry that Star Wars 1313 put you on the roles of a non-Force user, the game was going to give you the next best thing.
However, we must understand that this announcement doesn't mean the end of LucasArts properties such as Star Wars on the PS4, just that the studio behind them is no more. As Disney retains full rights to all LucasArts properties, it can do with them as it pleases which, in this case, Disney has made clear they are interested in licensing the properties to developers and publishers. This is nothing new; LucasArts licensed the Monkey Island series to Telltale and Star Wars to Electronic Arts among many other publishers. What changes here is that Disney will no longer serve as a publisher in any capacity, letting companies both develop and publish the games they license which minimizes the risk Disney takes. Whether or not the franchises they license fail or succeed, Disney will always get its licensing cut with almost no negatives; if the game fails, the loss comes from the publisher and if the game succeeds, Disney gets even more profit. With Star Wars planning on being a hot property with the announcement of Star Wars Episode VII, licensing out this popular brand with no risk involved is a win / win move for Disney.
So what does the future hold for the PlayStation 4 in terms of Star Wars and other ex-LucasArts properties?
One thing we can be assured of is that the future will hold many more Star Wars games than originally planned for Sony's next blockbuster console. With the licensing model, Disney can quickly build a large portfolio of Star Wars games in many different genres by selling the license to as many publishers as possible. While fans only had Star Wars 1313 to look forward to on the PlayStation 4, you can be assured that there will be many more licensed games to take its place. Whether those games will be top quality titles is another story, but for now be assured that Star Wars fans on the PlayStation 4 will have many, many games to choose from.
But if you're a fan of other LucasArts properties and can't wait to get your Outlaws on when the PS4 launches, you may be in for disappointment. Disney specifically mentioned that this model is good for “achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games.” As Disney mentions Star Wars specifically, it could mean they have no interest in making licensing deals for other LucasArts properties. If you were waiting for a Maniac Mansion that utilized the social features of the PS4 with updated high-definition graphics, it looks like you're going to be in for a long wait. While this may not be the case, it seems the house of the mouse is only interested in shopping around Star Wars. Sorry Manny Calavera, it looks like you're never coming out of purgatory.
In summary, if you're a PS4 Star Wars fan the news of Star Wars 1313's cancellation may disappoint you but at the same time, you should be excited that the future most likely holds a great deal of Star Wars. For everyone else, you most likely feel a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. We'll miss you LucasArts and we're sure you would have done the PlayStation 4 proud.
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 4/8/2013
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