There seems to be a disturbance in the Force. It’s as if the voices of hundreds of staffers and fanboys cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. That may be a bit dramatic, but it’s not a good time to be working at LucasArts right now. New company president Paul Meegan wasted no time in making sweeping changes to the studio. The word on the street is that he has canceled The Force Unleashed 3, already in development, and that members of the development team will be let go once The Force Unleashed 2 is released. Also, an unnamed second project has been put on hold.
Changes are also taking place externally. The majority of external development of LucasArts properties are coming to a close, with BioWare’s The Old Republic MMO being the last game to be developed internally at this time. If this is true, that would mean no more LEGO Star Wars or LEGO Indiana Jones titles. Yikes.
All of this makes me a little weary of getting The Force Unleashed 2, especially amid reports that morale at LucasArts has hit “an all time-low.” Now they are canceling the third installment of a game franchise when the second title hasn’t even been finished yet. The trailer for The Force Unleashed 2 at E3 looked very promising, but now we know that we won’t be getting a third game.
I don’t believe that this downward trend is relegated to just the gaming side of the Lucas universe, and there have been warning signs all along. Gary Kurtz, producer of Star Wars and its sequel The Empire Strikes Back, said in an interview recently that he did not return to direct the third Star Wars film due to the creative direction George Lucas was taking.
“I could see where things were headed. The toy business began to drive the Lucasfilm empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.”
There are also reports that the much anticipated live action Star Wars TV series has been put on hold, the reason given being that the show is simply too expensive to produce. I think this doesn’t have much to do with it being too expensive, they just don’t see enough profit margin for it. This was supposed to be an adult-oriented, almost HBO-like dramatic show. Oopsies, you can’t sell toys for that! When is the last time you saw Six Feet Under action figures?
It would appear that the once impenetrable Lucas empire may finally be crumbling under the weight of its own bad choices. It’s easy to see that the decisions being made in the Lucas-verse have more to do with business and the bottom line, and less to do with making things awesome. Unfortunately, that includes why there is new management at LucasArts, and why that management is making sweepingly negative changes to the company.
So, Ranters, what do you think of these rumors? Does it matter if The Force Unleashed 3 gets canned, or do you want to see a return of the Jedi?