LucasArts is dead. News has surfaced that the game studio is being shut down some five months after it was acquired as part of a $4.05 billion deal between Disney and Lucasfilm. According to various reports, many of the outfit's employees have been laid off -- around 150 people if Kotaku's source has it right -- and all of the developer's current projects have been cancelled, including Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313.
In a statement to GameInformer, Disney explained that it has been evaluating its position on games and has simply determined that LucasArts would better serve the company by licensing properties instead of developing them in-house. That shift is meant to reduce the risk involved with individual projects while simultaneously expanding the company's portfolio of Star Wars titles.
Considering the overwhelming positive response to Star Wars 1313's unveiling last year, the closure will undoubtedly disappoint many fans. The title made our list of most anticipated PC games for 2013 and would have placed players in the boots of a bounty hunter determined to uncover a criminal conspiracy on the seedy underbelly of planet Coruscant's subterranean level 1313. The third-person shooter seemed to have what many described as next-gen graphics and offered a grittier take on the Star Wars fiction.
In a separate comment to GameInformer, Disney acknowledged that 1313 "was looking fantastic" and "the reception has been great," so there's some hope of it living on through a third-party developer. The company says it's looking for "proven external partners" and 1313 could very well be released eventually via licensing. Kotaku's source isn't as positive about that outcome, suggesting that "both games are effectively dead forever" now that the original teams have been let go.
"We still believe in the video game industry, we still will provide Star Wars games, we're just looking at different models rather than internal production... They're evaluating everything. There's always a possibility that it [Star Wars 1313] can still come out via licensing," Disney said. "It's super sad. It's a terrible day. I want to make sure everyone realizes that there still will be Star Wars games out there."