by Josh Hamel
On the heels of Disney’s purchase of LucasArts including the rights to Star Wars, how are the video games being produced going to be affected?
First off, what does the purchase mean for games already in development at LucasArts including the possible next-generation Star Wars 1313? Disney has toned down its focus on video game development at Disney Interactive Studios in the past few years after flops like Split Second, with the exception of the Epic Mickey franchise and other movie tie-in games. Likewise, LucasArts has been responsible for multiple lackluster titles in the Star Wars universe like The Force Unleashed games.
For now, it doesn’t seem like much is changing, with a LucasArts representative telling Polygon, “For the time being all projects are business as usual. We are excited about all the possibilities that Disney brings.”
Where things really get interesting is what the deal means for games down the road. Chairman and chief executive of Disney Bob Iger said the focus will be on mobile and social game development, but they will be open to licensing out IP to other developers for console development.
With this in mind, even those titles licensed out may have a better chance to succeed with more freedom to innovate and take more risks under Disney.
With the continued rise of the Marvel films, expect characters from both that universe and the Star Wars universe to make appearances in the next major Kingdom Hearts title at the least, if not a full-on crossover title between the two universes licensed out. With the roster of characters Disney currently has the rights to, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a full-on Super Smash Bros.-style title. They certainly have enough characters people love to pull off such a feat.
Under new eyes, a potential sequel to the Battlefront series is not out of the possibility either.
For every major licensed title though, expect multiple casual and mobile experiences in between as Iger said.
The game that the future is most likely doubtful for is Star Wars: The Old Republic. The MMO is going free-to-play in December, and if the game is not profitable in that model, it is possible Disney pulls the cord to focus on other projects.
Smaller projects like making Grim Fandango or other classic adventure games from the developer’s past easier for modern users to purchase will most likely also suffer as Disney has no history with the series and is probably barely aware of its existence.
While Disney’s focus may be on the casual side, and some projects will probably suffer, the new leadership and the freedom it offers could bring great things out of LucasArts and the games being licensed out to other developers.