Disney is closing its LucasArts game development subsidiary, leaving the future of its Star Wars titles in limbo, according to a statement LucasArts released to Polygon.
The statement, which was initially obtained by Game Informer and later released to Polygon, reads:
"After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we've had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles."
Polygon reached out to LucasArts for comment and was told that the shift to a licensing model means LucasArts will no longer be developing games internally. Instead, the studio will be handing game development to third party developers. The studio confirmed that LucasArts will no longer be handling the development of Star Wars 1313, and it is exploring other avenues to release the game, although the future of 1313 and other Star Wars titles is currently uncertain.
Polygon understands that a number of staff have been laid off as a result of the company restructure, but LucasArts was unable to confirm the number. The Wall Street Journal reports that fewer than 10 employees have been retained to coordinate the external production, and it is yet to be determined whether future licensed games will carry the LucasArts brand.
Disney acquired Lucasfilm, Ltd in for $4.05 billion in October 2012. The acquisition included Lucasfilm Animation and the long-running video game development studio, LucasArts, which has worked on classic titles like The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and a slew of Star Wars games. LucasArts was working on Star Wars 1313 at the time of the acquisition, a third-person action game that it showed off at Gamescom last year.
At the time of the acquisition, a LucasArts spokesperson told Polygon that "all projects are business as usual ... we are excited about all the possibilities that Disney brings." Disney CEO Robert Iger said of the acquisition: "We're likely to focus more on social and mobile than we are on console. We'll look opportunistically at console, most likely in licensing rather than publishing, but we think that given the nature of these characters and how well known they are, and the storytelling, that they lend themselves quite nicely, as they've already demonstrated on other platforms."
While Disney winds up LucasArts as a game development studio, its own game development department plans to release Disney Infinity this summer.