Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Lucasfilm Games returns from the dead

In surprising news, Lucasfilm have resurrected their defunct gaming division, Lucasfilm Games (known from 1990 as LucasArts). The division was shuttered in 2013 when Lucasfilm and Electronic Arts negotiated a ten-year agreement for EA to develop and publish video games based on Lucasfilm properties, particularly Star Wars titles. But now it's back.

Lucasfilm/LucasArts Games developed dozens of titles between 1983 and 2013, including: Maniac Mansion, Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders, LoomThe Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Day of the TentacleGrim Fandango, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Their Finest Hour, Night Shift, The Dig, Full Throttle and Outlaws. Their Star Wars games included beloved classics such as X-Wing, TIE Fighter, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, X-Wing: Alliance, Dark Forces, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Shadows of the Empire, Rebellion, Rogue SquadronRepublic Commando, The Force Unleashed and The Force Unleashed II.

At the time of LucasArts' dissolution, they were developing an ambitious game called Star Wars: 1313, set in the underbelly of Coruscant and featuring ambitious gameplay and narrative ideas.

The Lucasfilm Games "sizzle" video above heavily leans on the recent EA-published games Battlefront (2015), Battlefront II (2017), Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) and Squadrons (2020). This suggests that, for now, Lucasfilm Games is a brand that will be applied to further Star Wars titles as they are developed. However, it may also indicate more ambitious future gaming plans, including setting up new development teams in-house.

EA's handling of the Star Wars licence has been mixed. Battlefront and Battlefront II were heavily-criticised for nickel-and-diming players through shady reward schemes (although the two games have sold more than 30 million copies, a very healthy figure in the current market). However, Fallen Order and Squadrons have had a much warmer critical reception. It has been rumoured that EA are currently developing Battlefront III and Fallen Order II, with an option to fast-track Squadrons II should the game's sales be satisfactory.

Many more games have been cancelled in development. An attempt at BioWare to get Knights of the Old Republic III underway was apparently also shot down by EA management, to the irritation of fans.

EA's licence to publish Star Wars games reportedly expires in 2023, so it'll be interesting to see if they re-sign with Disney or Disney are putting plans in place to develop games internally once again.

More tantalising is the idea that Lucasfilm might also be considering reopening their vaults and developing new games from their immense stash of long on-hiatus IPs, such as the Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion series.

It'll be interesting to see where this goes.


Alex said...

Indiana Jones- Lucasfilm Games, Bethesda, and Machine Games. Whoo-hoo!

Bartje said...

Oh i wish i knew of a modern version of the 90's Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. How I loved that game!