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Disney Shuts Down LucasArts (kotaku.com)
544 points by Lightning on Apr 3, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 239 comments

Here's how fucked the games business is: Tomb Raider sold 3.5 million units in 4 weeks, and yet failed to meet sales expectations. Hitman sold the same, and Sleeping Dogs sold 1.75 million and they both failed to meet expectations. Square Enix lost over $150m last year, despite those three critically and commercially (by any reasonable metric) games coming out. Despite selling millions of copies they aren't profitable because game budgets are too high.

EA thinks that next gen budgets will be "only"10% higher than this gen. That means that gmaes need to sell at least 10% more units than current games are doing, and eren that will only guarantee the losses of tens of millions we're seeing now. To be profitable they'll need to sell far far more. On consoles that, because they are new, will have a limited user base anyway. Either that or raise the price to make up the shortfall. In the middle of the longest recession in a century.

The industry is fucked

The only way to make money from games is what Disney have done, license the IP to other companies and get them to pay for it.

The AAA side of the industry is fucked up much like the big money side of movies and other stuff is often fucked up; because it not only has to pay all the creative folks but it has to pay for a slew of empty suits and massive, massive marketing campaigns.

I think that's why we're seeing such a rise of indie developers. People credit Kickstarter but I think Kickstarter's popularity and success is a result of the move to indie development rather than a cause of it (or maybe a little of both.)

There will always be talented people who want to make games and they will find a way to do it. Look at the old days that Commander Keen, Wolf3D, DOOM and many other shareware games came from. A bunch of independent BBSes where the shareware games where passed around and talked about purely through word of mouth. Rampant piracy, far worse than today, and yet those games made money for their creators.

You may be right, the EAs, the Activisions and other bloated monstrosities may be fucked. And to them I say good riddance. I love, love, love Bioshock Infinite, but if the $100 million dollar budget games are a dinosaur on its way out, I won't mourn it too much.

This. I remember the days of NES/Gameboy/DOS/PS games, even the case for a lot of games in other earlier consoles like SNES, Genesis, Dreamcast, etc.

These markets were literally flooded with massive volume in games. You went to the store and could literally not decide what you wanted to play, because there were 30+ games you had never seen, you wanted to play them all, and another 30+ for a console you didn't own. And then a few months later, there were 20+ new ones.

All of these games were relatively simple, creative, outside the box, not hyped nor mentioned in any advertising anywhere. And almost all of them kicked ass. Because they were still analog cartridge-ey and/or required a CD to play, you didn't want to own hundreds of games (even though you could because most were priced very reasonably), so it was amazing when things like Sega Channel came out. That was one of the truly awesome things I remember as a kid, even though it was short lived.

I miss those days. Now it's AAA title that took 3+ years to make that looks good but has almost nothing to it. Back then, a $5 game that took a company 1 programmer, 1 artist, 1 sound engineer, and about 2 weeks to make had significantly more playability to it. What happened to the industry?

Sorry, but I can't help but feel you're looking at the industry through rose-tinted glasses. There were hundreds upon hundreds of games for NES/Gameboy/DOS/PS that absolutely stunk. The vast majority were rotten, rotten games that were plain unfun from the title screen through to the end credits. I'd happily contend that the opposite is true: that if you go into a GAME store today, the vast majority of games will be at least /ok/. Whilst I don't think it's yet true that the majority of titles are AAA (check the reviews section of your nearest games mag, only a few releases per month are evidently AAA), a declining market for medium-budget games is possibly more of an issue.

And what happened to the $5 games? Since 2007 the industry has seen a huge, massive surge in (successful) indie game development, primarily on PC but also distributed digitally on PSN and 360. It's definitely there, alive, strong and very visible. (Sure, they might take more than 2 weeks to make, but not many games can be made in two weeks to contend well on quality).

Sure, but it's all independent now. They used to be small game studios with the resources to push out high quality games at a pretty rapid pace. I'm not saying the people building indie games today aren't talented, but some of them spend years polishing a single title, only to have it make a few hundred K, with a few massive outliers (Braid, Minecraft, Binding of Isaac, etc).

I remember playing crappy games back then, too, but so much more of it felt like today's indie scene. It's like some big business machine marched in and bought all the "pro" talent to produce the same few games over and over again on different engines, while everyone who gives a shit about actually building fun, innovative games just started their own few-person ventures.

I think you touch on a major problem. There are two extremes now - the ultra-publisher umbrellas that push out AAA market products, and the indies composed of 5 guys in a basement. There are very few companies with 50 - 100 people in the mid-range making mid-tier games with good gameplay (not revolutionary) good graphics (not Crysis 3 here) and fill in an industry gap. They all get acquired by big publishers.

In the 80's, even when Nintendo was practically the only publisher on the block, development studios contracted to publish games with them, they weren't owned by them. Up until the mid 2000's studios weren't owned by the publishers like they are now. Look at how Blizzard / Bioware / Epic / id etc all got bought and brought under big publisher umbrellas.

I agree with Estel. What you have written here is no reflection of the reality I grew up in.

There weren't a lot of games. There were just under 1000 NES games for both the US AND Japanese market (combined), and the total clocks in at about 200MB in size. The 30+ games you saw were probably the entire library of unique games for the platform.

The games we had yesteryear sucked. Really, really sucked. Most of them were bare derivatives of each other. For every Super Mario Bros. 3 there were 5 clones of Arkanoid. The controls were bad, the artwork was bad, the framerates were bad. We just didn't know they sucked because we didn't have better games yet. Look at some of the best games on the market back then, games like Megaman or Star Fox, and they are are only popular as nostalgia pieces today. I don't consider Golgo 13 or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES; PilotWings or DOOM on the SNES; Driver or Grand Theft Auto 3 on the PlayStation; to be anything close to playable games today, but I remember playing all of them for hours and liking it, because that was really all we knew.

And the games were not cheap. The NES retailed at $300 in the US when it debuted in 1985. That'd be almost $650 today. Super Mario Bros. 3 (the pinnacle of the series, IMO) debuted in 1990 at a price point of $60--over $105 in today's dollars. Chrono Trigger on the SNES debuted at $80 in 1995--over $120 today. I remember paying $70 for Yoshi's Cookie in 1992 (because I was 10 and that was all the Christmas money I had and I really, really wanted. My mother and I played it together for hours. It was great). That'd be $115 today for a puzzle game I could rewrite in a weekend now. I don't know what you're talking about with "$5 games".

You're praise of Sega Channel just further underscores that you were probably too young to understand money back in this time. It was $15/mo in 1994 when the only subscription services anyone had were telephone and TV cable (and you were "rich" if you had cable). I remember my father freaking out over a $20 telephone bill one month in the 90s: I regularly pay almost $100/mo for my cellphone today. The downloads constantly failed and you could only play the games for an hour before they reset.

Not sure of the particulars of your situation, but my family was by no means "rich" but had Sega Channel for the entire length of its existence. Sure beat renting games at Blockbuster (and before that, Home Vision Video, a New England chain that got pummeled out of existence) for $5 a pop, and it lasted the whole month.

We rented games once a summer.

There are lots of very playable games on the SNES and Playstation - my friends and I still break out Contra 3 and Super Bomberman sometimes, and Chrono Trigger is still a lot of fun to play through for the first time. NES, not so much. Also, 1000 games for a platform is a good number. PS3 clocks in at around 700. Your money arguments are pretty accurate, though. He might be talking about FuncoLand and other used game shops?

    you didn't want to own hundreds of games
I wanted to own hundreds of NES games because they didn't have remotely as much replay value as good modern games such as Counter Strike. (Heh, Counter Strike is the best example I have of a good modern game because it's the last game I played regularly.)

    even though you could because most were priced very reasonably
Most of the NES games I bought cost $49.99 plus tax. I specifically recall that Double Dragon cost me $54.99 plus tax.

> Most of the NES games I bought cost $49.99 plus tax.

Wolfram Alpha says[1] that's ~$90 today.

1: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=50%20USD%201990%20in%20...

It's interesting to reflect on this number, when you realize that the latest AAA platform title (whatever AAA meant in that particular day/age) have always cost about $50-60 in the past $$ terms of that day, regards of when in the past 20 years we're talking about. So you paid $90 worth of value in 1990 and we pay $49.99 today. What I mean to say is that games were EXPENSIVE back then!

A big difference then was that you could expect to reliably sell your used game back after you finished playing it, if you didn't want to hang on to it. So if you were into playing a lot of games and only keeping your all time favorites, you could reduce that cost significantly. And at the same time, if you were willing to wait a little bit after a launch, you could have the game for a nice discount. How often are you able to sell a game you pay $60 for today? And it doesn't help that the same game is repackaged and sold 10 times over a few years by the same company, each time for $60. At best that's a DLC, maybe worth $10 or $15, not another $60. :|

But market forces were very different too. You would expect thousands of sales, not millions, and your development team was a dozen people, not five hundred.

Development got harder (more art assets to make, harder code to write, more of everything) markets got bigger (100 million Wiis vs 50 million NES's) and demographics shifted (from 8 - 16 year olds to 16 - 30 year olds).

Heh, here in Australia it used to be $50, now it's $90-110

I think you still have rose tinted glasses. I still remember paying about AU$80 for Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Master System, and about AU$90 for Sonic 3 on the Mega Drive.

In real terms, games are cheaper here too.

(Another reason for lower prices would also be lower unit costs -- a ROM cartridge surely cost more to manufacture than an optical disc. And the gaming audience is now much larger than it used to be.)

I remember early 80's cartridges for Atari 2600 in the Sears catalogs being $80-120 USD a lot of the time. Though I don't think I ever paid more than about $40 myself.. I remember being REALLY disappointed in a few.. and miss a few today.

To me, the preview video for the game looks like Star Wars meets Half Life.

Recognizable titles did that, sure, but you could grab a used copy for less than half of that, and I recall buying plenty of games for under $24 new.

Counter Strike for me counts as a childhood game, though. I was early teens when it came out and I played it on the order of thousands of hours. It was developed by a relatively small player, Sierra, who also had some other awesome games I enjoyed prior to that, and the game was initially awesome.

I enjoyed everything up to and including 1.3, and even dabbled in competitive play. I've played every version of CS since and nothing is even comparable to versions 1.3 and below. I guess all good things must come to an end, and while I really hoped to see the efforts behind cs promod take off, nobody really advertised it (it was a re-packaged v1.3 when 1.6 and later source were basically killing the competitive scene).

Actually Sierra published the original Half-life game but didn't help develop it or Counter-Strike. CS was created by Gooseman (Minh Lee) and is arguably the most popular Half-Life mod ever. I played that game for thousands of hours too starting back in middle school.

Ah right, it was published by Sierra. What a work of art for Gooseman.

Thinking about it brings back those nostalgic days of WON with the fullscreen console. I had a 3 digit wonid, I remember when that was such a big deal, lol. Going over to a friend's house, setting up PCs, getting loads of caffeine and raiding the liquor cabinet, then doing cal scrims all night long.

Double Dragon was super expensive. I had to get my dad to take me to a Toys R Us that was 40 miles away just to pick it up, too.

The prices weren't necessarily based on quality either, I paid $64.99 for Ghostbuster (NES) and that game was awful.

In a sense, those days are back. Despite all of the AAA games that were released in 2012 (and there were some excellent games) the Game Developer Choice Awards last week were dominated by an independent title, Journey.[1] The conference as a whole had a strong focus on independent developers.[2]

Kickstarter projects are bringing back mid-range development, with smaller studios like Double Fine and Obsidian raising millions. Some Kickstarter projects, like FTL, have already been released to award-winning success.[3] The Kickstarter for the Planescape: Torment sequel being developed by inXile has raised almost 3.5 million with 51 hours to go.[4]

There's a lot of innovation happening. Just play any of the IGF finalists if you want a taste.[5]

[1] http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-27/business/38080...

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/arts/video-games/game-deve...

[3] http://www.igf.com/php-bin/entry2012.php?id=360

[4] http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/torment-tides-of-...

[5] http://www.igf.com/2013finalistswinners.html

  almost all of them kicked ass
The past always looks brighter from the present.

That industry still exists and is thriving more now than ever. It's just moved over to mobile.

That's definitely a good point. I've played some awesome mobile games.

The only downside is that they are producing for a platform with such a horrendously inaccurate/crappy input system. I get enthusiastic about downloading a game on my n7 only to find that it's extremely frustrating to play, or that the game has been dumbed down in some way to compensate, massive sadface. This isn't true of all of them, especially games that are designed around the touch interface, but after a while I still get bothered by it.

I'm really liking the resurgence of indie PC games, though. In the past few years I've played games produced by < 3 independent people that easily rivaled the games people tout as the "best of all time." Specifically, I'm curious why these huge companies want to produce 1 game over X years for tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and still fail to be profitable when they sell millions of copies.

What are some awesome mobile games? The vast majority of the ones I've played have felt extremely shallow, and couldn't hold my attention for very long at all, so I'd love to find a few consistent go-to's for when I'm on a train and don't feel like playing a puzzle game.

These are the games that have remained on my phone (sort of in order of favorites):

plants vs zombies, middle manager of justice, minecraft pocket edition, plague inc., tiny wings, ticket to ride, carcassone, flight control, textropolis

>What happened to the industry?

Its still there! You just have to ignore the hype and look beneath the curtains.


EDIT: and, of course, http://repo.openpandora.org/

I didn't really feel like I could chime in to this thread at first, because I don't play the latest COD or Bioshock, or whatever the latest gen games are.

Then I saw your comment.

The most fun I've had with a video game in a long time was Braid. A novel concept of the old side-scroller. I'd throw my wallet at the screen for a new Braid with even a few new time-altering features. It was relaxing and fun.

That isn't quite the "1 programmer, 1 artist, 1 sound engineer," you mentioned, but glancing at Wikipedia, it was close to that.

I'd like to throw out Fez as a suggestion, it was another 2-3 people platform game developed recently and a twist on a classic puzzle/platforming mechanic.

Honestly with Steam/XBLA/PSN we're seeing some of the best titles we've seen in years, even if the $60 retail industry is hurting.

If you take a look at the brilliant success of Minecraft, the games you are talking about may be making a comeback. I miss Zelda as much as you do, but we'll just have to wait.

And also get those CoD fanboys to stop speaking for the rest of us gamers.

The industry hit a bad limit and is now in reset mode... starting again from mobile.

Some call it progress.

EDIT: downvotes suggest I should wrap this in a sarcasm tag.

I think this is a highly contentious opinion (primarily mine, and any view that modern high-budget games mostly suck, which resonates with myself and a lot of once-gamers I know). It might be that way because of the technical nature of this community and probably because many readers of these comments might actually be involved in that industry, and so it comes off as offensive.

I don't really mean it to be offensive. We know a lot more about development today, and have a lot better tools, and I know what kinds of amazing creativity some of these designers have, so it personally bothers me to see the lion's share of investment in the gaming industry go into reproducing the same games over and over.

Those of you who are in the industry: what do you think about starting your own shops, or building kick-ass games in your free time? If you work at one of these large companies and are pursuing things like this, I'd love to see your work.

Been a video game programmer since 93 and I totally agree with your comparison with the movie industry. If you're going to make a AAA game you need a huge budget both for development and for marketing, which means that only the 'sure thing' will get the green light. That means the same games over and over with greater graphical fidelity, just like the big budget action movies don't stray too far from the accepted formula.

Interesting that the groups that get to define what makes an "AAA" game are the groups that can afford making such games as defined. Gamers need to get away from the AAA quality labeling as it means next to nothing these days. For instance, what's an A or AA game? Seems to me these days the number of A's only suggests the retail price but not the quality of the game.

Personally, I would put Super Meatboy or Mark of the Ninja up against any of these so-called AAA blockbuster games any time.

As far as I'm concerned "AAA" refers only to the development budget.

That's the general consensus, yeah. AAA gets lots of press, but it is not a direct reflection of quality: as has been mentioned, the large budget also includes marketing $$$.

AAA also refers sometimes to overall production values, which tends to mean amount of features and coverage of areas of experience: story, cinematics, voiceover, variety, realism, etc. Without a AAA budget you can't afford all of that and must focus on doing one or two things right and ignore the rest. This plethora of features can sometimes be mistaken for 'quality'.

I think this makes my point in more/better detail than I managed to do. This is more or less what I mean by wishing gamers would get away from using AAA as some kind of symbol of quality.

One of my absolute favourite games bootstrapped themselves on the basis of pre-orders before Kickstarter was available.


I think they pulled it off because of the strong reputation of the original Natural Selection (which was a Half Life mod). Still pretty amazing, especially considering they developed the 3D engine from scratch.

I forget where, but the entire story of how NS2 came to life is a paean to the dedication of its fans.

IIRC they had a build out and no one cared too much - until one of their fans started putting out gameplay videos on youtube, every single day.

The firm recruited him to be their head of marketing after that.

I suspect rock paper shotgun had done the story.

This year at the Game Developer Conference, Chris Hecker had an entirely wordless rant about the state of creativity in the AAA space, essentially using AAA's PR to point out how little real innovation is happening in that space. [1] It's received quite a bit of attention and agreement in the industry.

[1] http://chrishecker.com/Fair_Use

Your movie industry comparison is probably spot on in many ways. Especially the part about the number of non-developers at a company that actually increase the cost of development even though they are not directly involved.

The other aspect I'm curious over is if these AAA titles don't meet their sales quota is an attempt by publishers to get out paying royalties and bonuses to developers. It's a common tactic in Hollywood and there's evidence of it in the gaming industry already.

if your a publicly traded company your pretty much bound to have scads of people who do not contribute directly to the end product but merely exist to deal with all the regulations and laws that said companies must adhere too. It is frightening how much is spent to maintain compliance. It is not uncommon for large companies to have both internal and external auditors to ensure it.

Then toss is all the people needed to support the developers, artists, and their managing teams.

Ever read the credits at the end of a movie, count the people. Some video games have the same or bury it in a manual if your so lucky.

While what you say is true, those people should not be rolled into the development costs of the game. Their costs are the burden of the company, not the the developers whether they are an internal group or external studio. Most developers, well I believe this still holds true, have projects that are financed by publishers. The money handed over to the developers is the true cost of development. There will be people in the development group that won't have a hand in the project directly but are paid for through such funds, there's no way around that.

But the people that work at a publisher that funds an external development project should not be included in any way in the credits of the game. That's stupid and deceiving, I consider it an insult to the people who actually worked on the game. Much like those never-ending credits at the end of a movie that lowers the value of having your name in the credits in the first place.

If a publisher is rolling all those costs into the reported development costs of a game then they are inflating that number for some reason and I'm willing to bet it benefits no one but the publisher. As I stated elsewhere, it heavily feels of the Hollywood tactic of claiming a project never makes money to avoid having to make payments based on profit required by contract. A developer never gets royalties if the game never makes money.

Remember, Return of the Jedi is yet to turn a profit.

Add to it the impact mobile has had on consumers who are increasingly used to getting games for somewhere between free and 99 cents.

There is a mad rush to free to play right now in order to capture that audience. Although the market is much bigger, I fully expect the attempt to squeeze as much money possible out of the players will results in more and more painfully annoying games (most free to play already fit in that category.)

On the upside, free to play allows you to try out the game before fully investing on it. On the downside, if it's good enough, you will probably be milked more than the typical $60 retail in DLCs and in game items.

I personally don't buy games at launch anymore. I just wait for it to go on sale on Steam.

"and yet those games made money for their creators."

Did they make enough money to offset what would be fair salaries for their creators throughout the time they were being made? If not, then the comparison isn't very valid since the creators would have been working for free.

I'm sure they did, since those games were humongous hits and the developers are still famous for them.

While synergistic, Kickstarter is definitely on the right side of the indie dev movement.

If there were no kickstarter, there would still be an increasing amount of indie devs. Of course their life would be much harder, and we would not be seeing the new Torment game.

Kickstarter hasn't done a lot of delivery yet. It's captured people's imaginations, but due to the relative lack of tangible output at this stage, the warts are yet to be seen.

What about Blizzard? They seem to be the exception to the rule. They deliver very few titles but they seem to be raking in cash on each of them.

I highly doubt Diablo 3 has been the cash cow they had hoped for, and with the first Starcraft expansion launched with no sign of a monetization route with custom games I can't imagine their ROI on it is anything breath-taking, given the developmental resources required for a game as widely played as SC2. All of this is set the back-drop of a rapidly waning WoW playerbase and revenue.

Blizzard is the exception to the rule in that they typically deliver very high quality games, actually making enough money to fund that level of quality has not been consistent, while making strategic moves toward more money has consistently ended up burning them (WoW paid pets and mounts showed up about the time the player base started to get bored and diffuse to other things, the D3 RMAH has been an utter disaster since it launched)

Diablo 3 has sold over 12 million copies on PC. That's an extremely high sales number for a single platform. Also, the RMAH has been a success as far as I can tell. I don't have access to any major statistics, but anecdotally speaking I know several people who make a nice profit in the RMAH, and Blizzard takes a juicy cut all the time.

I think they rely heavily on their sterling brand for that consistency. Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 have done very well commercially, but most of the enthusiasts I talked to were fairly disappointed, and some of them even remarked that Blizzard has left their "autobuy" list. They were one of maybe two developers on that list for me, but I think that explains their very consistently massive success - they used to turn out games that were consistently much better than the competition's, especially in terms of replay value, and so they got on that list for a lot of people.

Square-Enix is an absolute shitshow that should be a lesson against having a guy who doesn't understand games at all as CEO. I think their fate was sealed when Wada fired a huge fraction of their experienced workforce resulting in a talent deficit which in turn lead to poor quality games (FFXIV...) which then snowballed into a lack of trust for Wada and the company as a whole.

At this point all they do is make remakes of 20 year old games.

edit: that being said if they come out with FFVI for Android I'll probably buy it X_X

Tomb Raider sold 3.5 million units in 4 weeks, and yet failed to meet sales expectations.

This is because Square Enix is using Eidos to prop up its Japanese arm, which has been floundering wildly. They then shift all the hopes onto the Eidos studios to keep the shareholders happy. Tomb Raider did gangbusters by all metrics apart from what Square Enix needed it to do to keep investors happy.

does that mean potential spinoff in future?

My guess is that either the company as a whole exists or it doesn't. They won't let Eidos go because they need the revenue, and breaking up Square and Enix seems infeasible at this point.

My guess is it'll go the same way as Sega and LucasArts if things go very south; release the third-party development studios from their contracts, shut down internal development, and move to licensing and hope you survive.

The industry is fine, trying to make 30/40/50 Millions AAA games by the truckload is a doomed strategy, but that's not a surprise. Lots of developer are doing a whole lot of money.

I cannot find brad wardell's blog from his galactic civlizations 2 dev time (from Stardock), he had a really good quote which perfectly applies; I don't remember it word for word but what he was saying is: it is stupid to make a really expensive game and then hoping to get your money back on it just because another game did, you have to find your market and make a game targeting it. If you sell 3.5 million units and you consider that a loss, then you fucked up, it's not a market problem.

There is a reason why indie games are exploding, and it's not a lack of liquidity, editors are pouring money into franchises trying to get the next call of duty, and it's not working the same way every action/sci-fi movie cannot have a James Cameron budget and get its money back.

> The only way to make money from games is what Disney have done, license the IP to other companies and get them to pay for it.

I think it's worth noting that Disney Interactive has posted a loss every single year of it's 18 years in existence.

i wonder if those numbers they post as loss are actually real loss or creative accounting loss. 18 years is a long time to keep losing money...

Is the industry fucked or is it just the case that it is a winner take-all situation? I assume that the big games like COD , Halo etc are still making plenty of cash. Maybe rather than seeking a profit on each game you just try to keep the lights on with the bonus of a lottery ticket that the game might make it huge.

For every big AAA developer going bust there are probably 100 indie devs who fail to gain traction and just slide into obscurity.

> Is the industry fucked or is it just the case that it is a winner take-all situation?

You say that like 'winner-take-all' isn't fucked.

Well, entertainment industries are always a bit like that. Same with startups in general.

It's just that you hear more about the losers when they are multi-billion dollar publicly trader companies.

Worth adding to the story that the CEO of Square Enix also resigned over the sales figures.

And the CEO of Electronic Arts.

Even worse, I find very few modern games that I even want to play. As a result I spend more time playing emulators, old retroconsoles and old computer games than anything new. For the price of a new game you can probably grab an entire SNES and a few hundred hours of really good games.

Notice how many of these relatively cheap indy games are setup to recreate this gaming experience.

This back catalog (including recent additions) has got to be taking a chunk out of the sales numbers.

So called AAA games are reaching a point of saturation, probably. They are spending simply too much money for what thy can get back. This is similar to movie studios. There is a limited number of "Dark Knight rises" movies you can do, because you need a HUGE number of viewers to just not loose money. Of course, a good franchise is the best way to secure players (CoD, for example)

But the industry is not just those games. Right now there are tools to make a fantastic game with a rather limited number of people and reasonable budget. I am not only referring to very small indie games, but I think there is a market for middle-of-the-road games in terms of budget. Right now everything feels like either Tomb Raider or Fez. The tools are there to ease the development and create a healthy group of companies generating great games that are not state-of-the-art, but are fun.

There is also the issue that game companies has been traditionally quite chaotic, with crazy plans, insane management and giving any excuse to just crash. I think the industry is learning what are the problematic points, what makes sense in term of a project. Video games industry is still relatively new, and it has been quite shaky. Hopefully they'll get better at all that...

Where are the "expectations" coming from? Could it be that only they are out of line, with the rest of the industry held captive to whatever figures emerge from the woodwork?

I think Notch personally pocketed about as much as Square Enix lost in the same period, so the math must be in there somewhere.

"The only way to make money from games is what Disney have done, license the IP to other companies and get them to pay for it."

Not completely true, Disney has their own dev team and they licensed Temple Run to make their own versions. Still though, it's not a risky bet as it's licensing something successful already.

Edit: also not in the AAA part of the industry

I don't think the AAA industry has to be fucked. I think if you cut out the publishers and all content is downloadable, you can provide higher margins the to studios who actually create the content. Right now the distributors(publishers) are the ones who come out like bandits..

You're only speaking of the big boys of the industry that have been on this downward trend for years. The smaller guys that are getting more creative in how to approach their market and how they develop their games are most likely doing just fine.

Does this open the space for indie developers? HumbleBundles have been doing ok lately. What if they had slightly more budget, can they do fairly close to these games.

Humblebundles seem to be mainly made up of games that have already been a commercial success to some degree.

By the time games hit the humble bundles they have often already been available for $1 on Steam. If I was an indie game dev I would use the bundles to get my old game into as many hands as possible to build a customer base for the next game.

There have been quite a few games in the Humble Bundle that are commercial failures, having sold thousands of copies on Steam, etc. instead of millions. In those cases the Humble Bundle is often the biggest revenue source for those developers, enough to fund the creation of new games.

Thousands of copies is not necessarily a commercial failure. We sold "just" 45k copies on Steam, which was enough for our 4 man team, before we went to Humble Bundle. When it comes to indie development, commercial success just means making enough to make the next game, which can be a surprisingly low amount if the costs of living are low.

I'd consider 45K a success in your case. By thousands I meant single digit thousands (in the 1K-5K range), not tens or hundreds of thousands. For some teams or individual creators with very low costs of living that's enough to sustain development, but at that point we're talking about living on less than minimum wage...

I see thanks for clarifying it, I wasn't familiar with the process too much. Just remember the sales numbers.

Would you say that marketing is a biggest issue? How about art generation?

If you think that's the only way to make money from games then you must not have heard of this thing called Minecraft.

The Fed chairman should open the liquidity window so the game company can trade securitized expected game sales notes to the Fed/taxpayer for hard cold cash!


I win.

Nope, you lose. I mentioned it here first. Sorry!

The industry is fucked because they charge $40 for a game that lasts on average less than 30 hours. This is a rip-off. Even RPG games don't last long these days. With an economy on the ropes you have to wonder in what kind of parallel universe are those guys living?

Give me a game at $10-$15 and I'd definitely buy it. Otherwise, well there are other ways to get them.

Not to mention that they went on and destroyed entire genres, like the much loved adventure games. Now we have a bunch of blockbuster FPS games that have started to look the same.

As an ex hardcore gamer I miss the thrill of the 90s when games were original and funny. Now it's all point and shoot some villain. After a while it becomes boring.

> With an economy on the ropes you have to wonder in what kind of parallel universe are those guys living?

One where length-of-play matters to a minority of gamers. I'll give you a hint, though: it's not a parallel one.

> Give me a game at $10-$15 and I'd definitely buy it. Otherwise, well there are other ways to get them.

"Give me a game for under a buck an hour, or fuck you, I'll just take it."

Fortunately, you are something of an outlier.

Just curious, what other form of entertainment can you get for $1.50 per hour?

Just a passerby here, but the majority of my entertainment comes from my $50/month internet connection, and I spend waaaaay more than 30 hrs/month on it.

You are being down voted, but I think it is a valid point. Games compete for your time as well as your dollars, and the internet is a big and easy distraction. I spend as much time reading about games as playing them. Look how many views game playthroughs are getting now.

Thank you.

FWIW, this is not the first time LucasArts existed as a licensing arm and not a development house. For much of Jim Ward's tenure in the mid-2000s LucasArts was essentially what Disney is positioning it as now. LucasArts as everyone knew it died a long time ago, the most upsetting thing was that the company that was left had no vision past the Star Wars license, leaving all the other IP to rot.

My hope is that Disney actually has a more holistic view on the LucasArts properties, because it's used to managing many diverse properties in a way LucasFilm was not. Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle etc etc might actually get released out to those who want them. This might be the best thing that has happened to LucasArts and its fans, but of course the job losses are disheartening.

One interesting aspect of that episode in LucasArt's history is that it led pretty directly to the founding of Telltale Games (by laid-off LucasArts employees), which has been reasonably successful, and has produced some interesting games. Doesn't mean the same will happen here, but it's intriguing.

Yes, I also would love to see some of their original IP in modern full glory. Full Throttle and Grim Fandango both have a special place in my heart...

I hope you are right.. probably dating myself by saying this, but I remember playing MI when I was younger..it felt like magic. I felt so sucked into that world, I used to just listen to the soundtrack for hours.

Fun fact: the original monkey island CD was a music CD with the soundtrack, too. This is possible because music is written to a cd outside-in and date inside-out (or visa versa, I forget). This blew my mind as a kid, and you could even see the physical distinction on the cd between the two data streams as well.

I believe the data was in the pregap and other than that it was just a normal CD. The physical distinction was probs something else.


Isn't the data just in track 1 on such CDs while the music is in tracks 2–n? At least that was the case for all the games that had CD Audio I tried putting into a CD player.

This was not unheard of. CD-Extra/Mixed Mode CDs were used for a lot of games[1] because they could use the drive's hardware decoding so there was no performance impact. At that time decoding a MP3 track could take more than 50% CPU.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_Mode_CD#List_of_Mixed_Mod...

You're right. Judging from the recent releases and the upcoming ones, Lucasarts joins the likes of Bioware.

Its sad, although its sad like hearing your great aunt who has been "alive" but effectively a not present due to dementia for the last 3 years finally succumbed to some sort of illness. At one time Lucasarts was an amazing studio with amazing vision, but that time ended a while ago.

I agree with others that the games business is once again facing a crisis of its own creation. In part because "games" are a product with a very difficult to pin down place.

Prior to computers, "Games" were either "Board games" where you bought the box and tokens and a ruleset, or "Card games" where you used an existing platform and implemented your own game by applying specific rules. The former is fairly easy to monetize, the latter not so much. Computer games are kind of like board games without the physical cost of making the tokens. But sometimes they are like card games where the platform is shared and a bunch of people can play at the same time.

The crisis seems to have evolved around dependence on getting $50 - $60 per copy sold. Which got disrupted by both the 'pay per month' market and the mobile/facebook market.

I wonder when folks evaluate the various Kickstarter efforts if they can come up with a new business model for more modestly priced games.

> 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...

In other words: by closing the studio we can just collect checks from licensing our IPs which gets turned into bonuses for our executives while we don't have to pay any developers, artists, designers or other filthy wage slaves.

"Golly this goose is delicious. Pity the thing refused to lay golden eggs faster..."

While this is true, it is still making work for said wage slave proletariat... and eventually it'll likely be the same people getting that money now, assuming they stay in the same industry.

I'm not saying it's a great thing, and I agree that it's likely motivated at least in part by a reduction in cost to justify some lovely top-level bonuses, but the work isn't disappearing. It's just being sent elsewhere.

Let's say that everyone who got laid off today at LucasArts forms a new studio and somehow lands the contract to make the next Star Wars games.

I guarantee you that their pay will be much lower from that contract, and their new independent studio will probably not get a favorable (if any) portion of the back end on sales. That means that not only will they get paid less to make the game, but even if it is successful, the result of their hard work will not result in much improvement to their situation and indeed they will then have to land a contract to make the next game.

My point is this a move that favors only the executives and fucks over the folks who do the real work. And in reality rather than hypotheticals, they are all out of work today and must find new jobs, a shitty position for anyone to be in and my heart is with all of them.

I guarantee you that their pay will be much lower from that contract

Is this what 'patio11 means by video game developers being willing to deal with low pay?

At least for now, no developers need to deal with their pay being cut. Go work someplace else instead.

Unless you think you have to work on video games.

Spending a good chunk of your career in game development has a tendency to make it rough to job-hunt outside of games (with the exception of programmers - game programmers seem to get no shortage of offers from SV startups and bigger firms). Some of these people are very much 'locked in'; they probably moved to the bay area to work at LucasArts and brought families with them.

I mean, I interviewed at the LucasArts campus in SF maybe a year ago and the people there definitely didn't act like they were constantly at risk of losing their jobs. It was a big, established studio with a long history, and the team seemed to have a lot of people in just such a situation. 'Go work someplace else instead' is not a simple proposition for these people.

Surely the same thing's happening in every other industry too, though?

I'd wager that their just-terminated employment contracts explicitly prohibit them from doing such a thing.

It would be interesting to see the details of this - surely if the contract is "terminated" then they're under no contractual obligations any longer.

If the company who were the first party to the contract no longer exists then the contract is void surely. (Yes "or successor in title" probably covers that one).

non-competes are not valid in California where LucasArts is located

If Project Eternity and the South Park RPG go well, does that mean that Obsidian might get a chance at KOTOR III?

That Star Wars license won't come cheap. Would the $4 million they raised on Kickstarter for Eternity even cover the licensing fees?

Be still my beating heart! But no, I doubt it - I'd love for a single player RPG, but expect nothing but MMO's here on out.

That's harsh and unfair.

Really? I think it's translating it to plain english and it's a lot nicer than what's actually going through my head about the people making that decision.

Disney closed down the studio, which yes, really sucks for the people who worked there. I empathize for all the guys and gals that lost their jobs from this decision. Having said that, it may have been the right call for Disney. Disney has a number of game studios, and this one may have been redundant. This is what happens when one company buys another and there is overlap in org-structure. LucasFilm animators and operations people already got the axe. I worry for them more than I do for game engineers (their skills are in high-demand).

It's certainly harsh, but which part is unfair?

Well, it's about damn time.

There's a lot of "Oh no! Not LucasArts! I loved Monkey Island / Grim Fandango / Zombies Ate My Neighbors / Indiana Jones Desktop Adventures!" talk going around, but that's misguided and a testament to the power of a brand. Unless I've missed my mark, LucasArts has developed in-house a total of two games in the last eight years. (Force Unleashed and Force Unleashed II. I thought they were mediocre.)

This isn't Disney laying off developers so they can just make money off licensing and publishing; this is Disney consolidating a (historically troubled) licensing-and-publishing business into their existing (and very good) licensing-and-publishing infrastructure.

Everyone who made your favorite LucasArts game hasn't worked there in a long time.

>>looks at the calendar>>

Oh %$#@!, it's not April 1st anymore...

This can't be happening. :(

I was hoping the title was sensational and that they're just moving the staff to a Disney corp building. But the article is confirming the worse case. How can this be?! I'm not a starwars fan, but I'm pretty sure that whole thing is still making money on t-shirts & mugs & stuff.... right?!

This marks the first time I've felt genuinely saddened by the shutdown of a game studio. LucasArts made some of the best games I played as a kid, it's a shame they couldn't follow up their legacy in recent years. :(

Eh. I was more disappointed when Westwood bit the dust. In all honesty, LucasArts was long, long past it's golden era.

Though I'm currently playing through Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis on my way to and from work, on my phone, via SCUMM. I'll always be grateful for that.

It's funny/tragic just how much better the Fate of Atlantis' story was than Indiana Jones 4. They could have just made that into a movie and it would have been amazing.

>> it's a shame they couldn't follow up their legacy in recent years.

Agreed, but it's worth keeping in mind that "recent years" in this case means over a decade. LucasArts pumped out hordes of sub-par games, quickly shoe-horning various game paradigms into the star wars universe.

As much as I feel nostalgic towards the hey-day of old, the article is spot on in pointing out that all their recent greats (KOTOR, etc.) were developed externally. If I were in Disney's shoes, I might have made much the same call, alas. Either that or take a gamble on a radical re-vitalization campaign, which is dicey in today's game market.

I miss the X-Wing/TIE Fighter series, especially the awesome X-Wing vs TIE Fighter game. I would have loved to see a modern remake of those games.

The space fighter genre seems to be lost. I did some research a few years ago trying to understand what happened. Not enough market demand was the answer. The same goes for Mech games and flight sims. We live in a cold world some days :(

I had the Jedi Starfighter game for the original xbox. It was fun, but completely lacked the enjoyment I got from X-Wing. It could just be nostalgia, but I still get the same enjoyment from firing up X-Wing in DOSBox.

The Rogue Squadron games achieved high popularity, but they felt more like spiritual successors to the Rebel Assault games, rather than X-Wing.

I want my sprawling space battles with Correllian Corvettes and Frigates and all the different TIE variations, Y-Wings, B-Wings, A-Wings.

Aw man, I'm going to reinstall X-Wing when I get home. Just need to find a cheap joystick that works with DOSBox now.

Try TIE Fighter as well, if you can: the game engine is better, and the storyline is excellent. Thanks for the tip about DOSBox. I'd pay money to get that game in a modern package that would run on my system. (Same goes for SFC3 and NFS: High Stakes, mind you - both old games that I can't even get to run properly. Perhaps DOSBox is the answer?)

It's a little hard to get running sometimes, but there are plenty of guides online. On an older PC I was able to successfully get peripherals working.

Right now I think DOSBox is the best way to play the older games. I would fork over a good amount of money for an easy to use platform for playing older PC games and a marketplace that sold them.

Good Old Games www.gog.com has a nice selection, but it doesn't completely scratch the itch.

I'm still wishing I could find a helicopter simulator to equal Janes AH-64 Longbow. A friend and I spend many, many hours after work playing that game.

"Sorry, sweetie, I have to work late again..."

I still have controllers in my basement, just hoping to get pulled out.

I pulled my old joystick out I'd kept for the last ten years, only to realise my PC doesn't have a serial port. Warning!

(I've no idea how long I haven't had a serial port. Which makes it worse.)

There is MechWarrior online in a freemium open beta and another mecha but more FPSy game in development I can't recall right now.

Hawken. It's fun. :) Low complexity, but seems to reward skill.

Low market genres like that could be addressed by open source, perhaps? Or a Kickstarter?

Technically, they already have, since the Freespace 2 code was open-sourced.[1] And there have been multiple space-flight Kickstarter projects, such as Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and Limit Theory.

[1] http://scp.indiegames.us/

But those games were developed by Totally Games, not LucasArts.

The distinction, before about 1998 or so, was pretty much immaterial: Totally Games was "independent" but was composed of ex-Lucasfilm Games people and only published through LucasArts. I cannot say for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if Lucasfilm (then LucasArts) had an ownership stake in it at one point, as Nintendo did with Rare during the mid-90's.

Contrast this to, say, Raven Software doing Jedi Knight 2 and Elite Force right on the heels of one another. (Of course, Totally Games did do Star Trek: Bridge Commander, but that was seven years after they split from Lucasfilm Games.)

I miss them too. I make up for it playing the X series[1] and Freespace mods[2]. X series is more like a single player Eve (also has lots of mods like Freespace), while Freespace is more like X-Wing/Tie Fighter. There's even a Star Wars mod for Freespace (might be one for X, but have not checked).

[1] http://store.steampowered.com/app/2820/

[2] http://www.gog.com/news/freespace_2_open_source_code_project...

I understand your feelings. But keep in mind that the PEOPLE who made those games are LONG GONE. The NAME of the company is still there, and I understand why you're attached to it as I am too, but the people who made those special games have been gone for years.

As hard as it is, don't attach those great memories to the COMPANY, but rather the people who had the vision to make them.

If you need to remove your attachment, play the Kinect version of Star Wars.

And for one person there: Karma. It takes a long time but it does come back to bite you. Now you know the price of those 6am flights you booked.

> And for one person there: Karma. It takes a long time but it does come back to bite you.

Er... no. That's superstition.

It's simply not real.

I wonder how you can speak with such authority, when the very nature of life remains a mystery.

It doesn't. We have many libraries filled with material on life.

He can state with authority that karma does not exist just as he can state with authority that unicorns do not exist: Very easily. There is no evidence of such an effect, and no evidence for anything that could transmit or cause the effect. It is as imaginary as anything could be said to be.

Absence of evidence != evidence of absence. Perhaps worth rethinking your assumptions? All of the libraries in the world can't prove we're not brains in vats collectively hallucinating everything or an ancestor simulation running on supercomputers in deep space. Pehaps your breakfast today was imaginary? I could make just as strong a case for that as you can for the "imaginary" nature of karma.

> Absence of evidence != evidence of absence.

> It is as imaginary as anything could be said to be.

I think you have not really grasped the meaning of that. Do you find leprechauns to be equally plausible as karma? Do you find sandwiches to be as equally plausible as leprechauns? Do you really? Really? You actually live your life with equal expectations of sandwiches and leprechauns?

If that is really the case, then you are clearly insane. Actually insane. Any rational human has at least the slightest ability to reason in a Bayesian manner.

(We've apparently maxed out the threaded comments system..so I'll respond to your response below here)

"Simulationism is completely irrelevant. Reality is defined as what our senses permit us to perceive, any other definition is not productive. Honestly rejecting it is insanity If we are in a simulation then sandwiches are real if the simulation presents sandwiches to our senses. The simulation, if we live in one, does present sandwiches to us, but it presents absolutely no evidence for karma. Why do you believe in karma more than leprechauns? Or karma instead of anti-karma? The supposed simulation presents equally little evidence for either."

First - I wonder why you get to define reality as the sum of our sensory experiences? Seems to me our senses fail us often. A simple example - I wonder have you ever done mushrooms? Your senses can give you lots of interesting data at times. So I'd challenge the notion that our senses are the sole possible basis for describing what is "real"

But note the weaknesses of my claim - I allow for the possibility of karma, where you do not. I was challenging your certainty about its nonexistence. Nothing more.

And on that front, the simulation argument is totally relevant, because it attacks the certainty of any of your claims about what is real. Ask Mario or Luigi what's real and their answers won't line up with what you and I think is real. And if we are, in fact, in a simulation, there isn't much that separates us from either of them.

Do I believe leprechauns are as common here on Earth as sandwiches? No. Might there exist a Planet Leprechaun somewhere in the cosmos? Sure. Again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Do I believe karma could be real? Sure. Do I know it to be real? No. But neither can you know that it's not. There is, if you're honest and rigorous, very little that we can be truly certain of. And this is a good thing - because it keeps our minds open to possibilities. (Which might be worth trying?)

> So, in the sense that you "allow for the possibility of the reality" of karma, do you similarly "allow for the possibility of the reality" of unicorns? Yes? No?

Care to answer that?

Although I technically permit the possibility of either, in the sense that I recognize the limitations of knowledge, I nevertheless reject both in practice. Do you? Are they on equal footing?

A rational adult rejects childish fairytale creatures, and a rational adult similarly rejects karma.

If they are are equal footing, then all you are doing is obnoxiously injecting epistemology into a casual conversation. Do you do this every time somebody mentions that something doesn't exist, or just when you catch the whiff of religion?

"> So, in the sense that you "allow for the possibility of the reality" of karma, do you similarly "allow for the possibility of the reality" of unicorns? Yes? No? Care to answer that? Although I technically permit the possibility of either, in the sense that I recognize the limitations of knowledge, I nevertheless reject both in practice. Do you? Are they on equal footing? A rational adult rejects childish fairytale creatures, and a rational adult similarly rejects karma."

I thought I covered your Y/N on unicorns with my answer about Planet Leprechaun. But, sure, Planet Unicorn is equally plausible.

Incidentally, the millions of Buddhists in the world would be amused to know that none of them are "rational".

As an aside, I'd argue that there's more evidence for karma than there is for unicorns or leprechauns. At its core, karma is the idea of cause and effect. Actions have consequences. This is entirely consistent with much of what we think we know about the world.

If karma exists, then it can be measured. It has not been measured.

> I thought I covered your Y/N on unicorns with my answer about Planet Leprechaun. But, sure, Planet Unicorn is equally plausible.

> Incidentally, the millions of Buddhists in the world would be amused to know that none of them are "rational".

I submit that where this a discussion about Saint Patrick's Day, and somebody described the origin of Leprechauns and in the process offhandedly referred to them as a fiction, you would not object. You would not even think of objecting. Objecting would never cross your mind.

You are only objecting here because you become uncomfortable when religion enters the picture. Millions of adults believe in karma and call it religion so you are willing to be obnoxious about epistemology, but in conversations where religion is not hinted at, you would not even consider objecting.

"If it exists, it can be measured."

So the new tarantula they discovered yesterday didn't exist until it had been measured?

Regarding the rest of your claim - I certainly do not become uncomfortable when religion enters the picture - I was a philosophy major, have experimented with the practice of a variety of religions, etc.

I seek truth, for myself and others. A prematurely closed mind strikes me as an obstacle to this endeavor. So I spoke up. Perhaps that was a mistake?

Regardless, I think we understand each other - you believe you know that karma is no more plausibly real than unicorns or leprechauns. I believe that this claim is unfounded. You think that this makes me insane/irrational. Have I got it right?

>So the new tarantula they discovered yesterday didn't exist until it had been measured?

"Can be measured", not "has been". But if someone had claimed to know of the existence of a tarantula with the specific characteristics that species has, and it had not yet been observed (not even by the person claiming to know about it), that person would be crazy. That they were right would be a coincidence.

What leads you to believe that karma is more plausible than unicorns and leprechauns?

jlgreco noted above that karma has not been measured, and implied that this meant that it didn't exist. The tarantula example was intended as a response to that claim.

Regarding your supposed coincidence - how does predicting karma differ from predicting the Higgs? Until recently, the Higgs previously had never been directly measured, and now it seems that it has been. It's a coincidence that they found what they were looking for? That stretches credulity. I wonder why the prediction of karma would be any different than any of the predictions made by Western science.

As for why I believe karma is more plausible than unicorns, well, to answer that question I do think it is important to be clear what we mean by karma, in order to get at what I find plausible. There are many different specific definitions for karma with more nuance than we likely want to dig into here, but the core idea, as I said above, is the idea of cause and effect. Perhaps the biggest difference between the karmic notion of cause and effect and our Western ideas of cause and effect is the idea that our intentions matter in determining the consequences of our actions. Why does this seem plausible to me? Well, it has been my experience that intentions do matter, and can often result in real world effects. How specifically does this happen? I'm not sure. But magnetism worked before we understood why. As did gravity. So it's plausible to me that karma (insofar as it is understood as the intentions of our actions having real consequences) could operate before we understand (or can measure) why. Is this certain? As I've said, no. But it certainly seems plausible that intent matters.

On the other hand, if by karma you mean the idea that our actions and intentions will result in a specific kind of rebirth, well, that's perhaps less plausible to me than the more generalized notion. But I'm certainly not willing to declare it Not The Case.

> how does predicting karma differ from predicting the Higgs?

With which model have you predicted the existence of karma? What rigorous experiments have supported the assumptions and prior predictions of this model? Is there a "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the 'Eastern Sciences'" I can look to?

> Well, it has been my experience

Human experience, without very careful treatment, is as near to worthless as you can get. You should know that. Seriously dude, this is elementary.

> But magnetism worked before we understood why. As did gravity.

The effects of gravity and magnetism can be observed. They were conclusively observed well before they were explained. Karma however has never been explained NOR observed. The effects of karma exist only in the fevered imaginations of lunatics and the delusionally religious. If it objectively exists in reality then it, like magnetism or gravity, could be independently measured in an empirical fashion, even if explanation escapes us.

> "you believe you know that karma is no more plausibly real than unicorns or leprechauns. I believe that this claim is unfounded. You think that this makes me insane/irrational. Have I got it right?"

Yeah, it seems like you have that about right. I feel like I am talking to losethos here or something. What evidence have you for justifying your assessment of the plausibility of karma? Your "feels" do not count; if you want karma to be taken seriously alongside proper science, then do the fucking legwork. Otherwise just admit that it is your own wishful thinking and delusion.

> "but the core idea, as I said above, is the idea of cause and effect."

Bullshit. The core idea is a self-leveling system of cause and effects governed by some universal system of ethics. I deny no pedestrian cause and effect reality, only apparently supernatural systems governed by some system of ethics.

> "have experimented with the practice of a variety of religions"

For reasons that should be obvious to all, this does not inspire the confidence that you seem to think it should. Furthermore, you have entirely misinterpreted what I have said. I am not accusing you of being uncomfortable around religion, but rather being uncomfortable around criticism of religion in its entirety. You are "white knight"ing religion. You ascribe it importance without justification.

-- The model is called Buddhism.

-- Here you say human experience is as worthless as it gets. Earlier you said that our sensory experience is the foundation of all reality. Which is it?

-- The question I was asked was why do I consider karma plausible. My feelings do in fact count on that score.

Beyond that, I get the sense that you're just trolling me at this point, so I'm done now. Like I said, I think we understand each other. Good luck.

>At its core, karma is the idea of cause and effect. Actions have consequences. This is entirely consistent with much of what we think we know about the world.

At its core, a unicorn is a mammal. A warm-blooded animal which nurses its young. This is entirely consistent with much of what we think we know about the world.

> Incidentally, the millions of Buddhists in the world would be amused to know that none of them are "rational".

Why stop at Budhists? Billions of religious people would probably be amused to know that none of them are rational.

It's still a fact: religious people are not rational: they have faith, which is by definition, a belief that is not supported by reason nor evidence.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a dogmatic thinker responds with an ad hominem attack when their assumptions are questioned. I am, I assure you, quite sane. Sane enough to allow for the possibility of the reality of karma, which you do not, simply because you do not have evidence in hand at this moment in time.

Do some reading. Start with this: http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html It's a probability-based argument for the notion that we are in fact inside an ancestor simulation. Would love to hear your thoughts on how you know it to be incorrect. Then go read some Descartes and tell me a cool story about how he's insane.

Trust me, I understand that your sandwich feels real to you. But that doesn't make it so. Any more than your opinion that karma doesn't exist makes that the case.

Simulationism is completely irrelevant.

Reality is defined as what our senses permit us to perceive, any other definition is not productive. Honestly rejecting it is insanity; if rejecting ones own senses is not insanity, then what is? If we are in a simulation then sandwiches are real in all meaningful ways if the simulation presents sandwiches to our senses. The simulation, if we live in one, does present sandwiches to us, but it presents absolutely no evidence for karma.

Why do you believe in karma more than leprechauns? Or karma instead of anti-karma? Or narwhale fighter pilots? The supposed simulation presents equally little evidence for any of these. Yes, a rational mind allows for the possibility of karma, but no more so than the possibility of leprechauns, anti-karma, and unicorns. That is to say, in practice, a rational mind rejects all of the notions if "the simulation" has not presented reasons not to do so.

So, in the sense that you "allow for the possibility of the reality" of karma, do you similarly "allow for the possibility of the reality" of unicorns? Yes? No?

"Reality is defined as what our senses permit us to perceive"

if this is some sort of fundamental truth, it means that reality is subject to the rate at which our technology evolves. the overwhelming majority of the sonic spectrum skips right past our perception, unless we use technology. so how might one conclude that there were sounds beyond our perceptions, say 1000 years ago? he or she might look at the EFFECTS of sound on animals, and infer that something beyond our senses was at work.

"if rejecting ones own senses is not insanity, then what is?"

so your advice to a pilot in a cockpit is to go with one's senses at all costs? one's senses are never trumped by reason? lol.

we have plenty of evidence for cause and effect, most of which you've already stated you buy into. we can't perceive (AKA measure) gravity, but we can measure the EFFECTS of gravity. according to your tidy little definition, gravity isn't real. i'm sure you're shocked every morning when you step out of bed and don't float away.

why is karma any more relevant to talk about it than unicorns and leprechauns? from psychology to medical science, we have lots of evidence that belief and intention can directly affect reality.

an understanding that all actions have effects in the world and that we can attract things in our lives which we choose to focus on, empowers people to be active, positive and fearless agents in the world rather than passive, negative and victimized ones.

and to conclude:

"Henceforth, my dear philosophers, let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a "pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject"; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as "pure reason," absolute spirituality," "knowledge in itself": these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective "knowing"; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our "concept" of this thing, our "objectivity," be. But to eliminate the will altogether, to suspend each and every affect, supposing we were capable of this -- what would that mean but to castrate the intellect?"

- Nietzsche

LucasArts, AFAIK, is just the videogame studio division of LucasFilm. I'm sure the merchandise is still making plenty of money.

LucasArts was the only part of his products that many people care about anymore!

On one hand, I'm sad that the studio that created Full Throttle, Dark Forces and Jedi Knight, and many other games from my childhood is gone.

On the other hand, they haven't made a great game in a very long time. Even The Force Unleashed was just okay, but not stellar.

Yeah, I for one am not weeping that hard.

MicroProse was stagnant for a long time and then finally went under - the resulting sale gave us, finally after so many years, a great X-Com game (with another on the way).

The death of a game studio can have a (pretty thick) silver lining. When THQ went down it auctioned off its franchises - and forced a changing of the guard for some franchises that have been stagnant.

That studio disappeared a long time ago, though. In the mid-00's it transitioned to a licensing group and only fairly recently started making games on its own again.

True enough, but I was REALLY looking forward to SW 1313, it looked magnificent. That's what I'm really upset about here.

Agreed on both counts.

I purchased TFU 2 at full retail ($60), and regret it. It is hands down the worst title I own.

The week after GDC. 'Cause y'know, who might want to go looking for a job at the biggest game developer convention in the world?

It's my understanding that the writing has been on the wall for some time now. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the employees secured new jobs before this was announced.

This is correct. Once the Disney deal was announced, LucasArts folks had a feeling there wasn't much time left. I know a few people who left LucasArts for exactly the reason you describe.

I was looking forward to StarWars 1313. Showing the seedier side of the universe would've been a welcome change to the "All Jedi, all the time" stance of, well, everything SW-related since the prequels came out.

Same, I cannot believe they're cutting this. That game looked fantastic.

To be fair, so did Force Unleashed, but that was not a great game.

Force Unleashed was a solid brawler that needed a little tweaking to make it really good. Then they managed to royally screw it up in FU2.

Still not sure what happened there.


Maybe this means the Grim Fandango IP will be sold off in a fire sale, and Tim Schafer can do a second wildly successful KickStarter to buy it and make Grim Fandango 2!

I don't need a Grim Fandango 2, though I would really love a Grim Fandango HD for consoles and/or tablets.

Were they not making a profit? It's hard for me to see the logic behind this decision - I thought the starwars games were all pulling in a decent amount. The other ip as well. What a shame.

And I believe that's what killed them

'Management' shut down everything that was not a SW game some time ago.

Gone were all the other game lines.

The Lucasarts of 15 years ago will be sorely missed.

(Except configuring your SB card with setup.exe)

Disnye has its own "interactive" arm, it's not like they can't farm out Star Wars videogames from there, so it's not hard to see the logic.

Claimed another victim, has the mobile-gaming wars. </yoda-speak>

In all seriousness ... I am very saddened by this news. I few up playing Monkey Island, Indy Jones, etc. I was thinking of buying all the Monkey Island games again on my iPad but didn't have the time.

Which doesn't even make sense, I would buy an iPad port of Full Throttle so fast.

Except that it has to be priced at $.99-$1.99 for most people to do so...

Are you sure? From what I read, the big gap is between Free and Non-Free.

After that, I think that some marketing could convince the vast majority to pay a lot more than 99 cents (I did, for Plants vs Zombies).

I'd pay somewhere around U$ 5 per game myself :)

Even so, that's a huge difference compared to the previous $50-60 people were paying for games. Sure they can cut out the publisher, printing, etc... now, but I expect they were still making at least $10 per game in the past.

$5? Games used to cost $50!! You'd only pay a tenth of what games used to cost.

An equivalent game for PC (say a Telltale Games Sam & Max episode) costs U$ 9. The Sims 3 costs U$ 19.

You're comparing the adventure games to the massively expensive FPS or RPG or other stuff with awesome graphics and all that :) .

And, to be honest, I never paid U$ 50 for any game upfront (PC, console, boardgame, anything), and I believe 99.9% of the gaming population in my country (Uruguay) hasn't either :) . That's the realm of US and European teens that can afford them (well, their parents can).

I did buy secondhand console games and other stuff :) , and I've paid far more for my M:TG collection, but on 4 to 10 dollar installments :) .

There are a ton of games at $9.99 and $19.99, generally only the simplest casual match-three style games are $0.99.

Right now the #3 paid app is the $7 Minecraft, the second game on the list.

A lot of the games on the top charts right now are free or $0.99 games with in-app purchases that bring the price higher, or games that were formerly in the $7-20 range but are lower because they've been out for awhile.

Yeah, tablets seem like they'd be a great fit for SCUMM-style games.

They are and in fact you can get a version of SCUMMVM that runs on a jailbroken iPad and works with most (if not all) of the LucasArts games. It's just a hassle.

Well, at least on Android, you have to press and drag (which moves the 'mouse'). It's not a simple press and click like I imagined.

I don't understand why they aren't updating and selling all their properties on iOS and Android.

There's an entire new generation that could buy them, plus point-and-click adventure games sound like a great use case for tablets.

Fate of Atlantis, King's Quest 3, Monkey Island 2 and even Full Throttle is available: http://wiki.scummvm.org/index.php/IPhone

I think Telltale Games is the current version of the old LucasArts we all feel nostalgic for.

I'm really hoping for some Telltale Games for Android.

I really don't have the time for PC games, but I sometimes have long (4+ hour) bus trips, and an Android adventure game would be amazing.

I'd also like an old X-com remake for android, and some other tower defense games besides Plants vs Zombies (or PvZ 2 :) ). PvZ was the first Android game I've bought.

Not an Android solution, but a Surface Pro could probably play them okay if you don't want a full out computer or laptop.

Replay Games is doing some work there as well. Have you tried Fester Mudd?

I really wish the Loom IP was going somewhere besides Disney's vault (pun intended, but unfortunately its not the valuable vault).

That game needed so many sequels. It was fantastic.

This makes me quite hopeful. The way I see it, the folks who made the games I cared about were long gone; with the IP holder focusing on licensing / contracting out, they might get to work on those IPs again after all. I enjoyed Tales of Monkey Island (LucasArts-published but Telltale-developed sequel with some of the original talent on board). The internal studio that had to be kept busy was probably more of a potential impediment to that.

The Secret of Monkey Island is my favorite game of all time and their games in totality were a formative experience when I was growing up - I'm really sad to see them go. Booo.

On the other hand, hey, Disney owns Monkey Island. I'd love them to do something with it.

I think they already did, and it's called Pirates of the Caribbean. The MI games draw heavily from that theme (which predates them, in the form of the ride). There may not be room in the market for another variation.

On another thread, they linked to Ron Gilbert saying that Disney probably would kill it in favor of their own Pirates of the Caribbean property, though Googling for it shows that he will contact Disney and at least try :) .



I'm assuming you played the Telltale Games Monkey Island already? It was actually a refreshing return to that style of gaming. I enjoyed it personally.

Some diehards think Disney already did something with it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8dpLebI-4s

Someone claims that the writer of 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl' had previously worked on a script for a Monkey Island movie.


Man I had forgotten about the LucasArts games of my youth...more accurately I had forgotten they were made by Lucas Arts. Now I'm actually a bit sad.

This is great news. LucasArts hasn't done anything with the brand that I've actually liked. I want to see more BioWare style licensing deals, and can only hope for a KOTR3

I remain absolutely flummoxed that we've never gotten another KOTOR. It's really the most baffling decision...ever.

Great. This means we'll never seen a Day of the Tentacle remake/sequel :(

No, it just means that Disney will have to do it or license out the IP... unless it was something that was not commercially feasible, but that would have been true even with LucasArts

DOTT is quite possibly my favorite video game of all time. I really hope Tim Schaefer gets this IP.

This, Grim Fandango, and Full Throttle.

Sad news. Grim Fandango is one of my favorite games of all time. What's gonna happen to the licenses to all those old games? I just hope they're given at least the Steam/GOG treatment and don't become vaporware.

I find it interesting how many people in this thread are saddened over the closing of LucasArts speaking of the classic games they loved from their childhoods.

Please keep in mind that the development studio that closed down is not the same thing that made the classics we all cherish. What we know as LucasArts died a long time ago.

I'm more saddened at the thought of developers losing their jobs and I'm hopeful that many of them had opportunities to get out ahead of time.

While it isn't surprising that Disney made a business decision, the suddenness is shocking, at least based on how the article portrays this going down.

Any folks at LucasArts that need help finding a job (and happen to be reading this) just shoot me an email - I'm happy to help and my email is in my profile.

Edit: non-technical too, just figured I can try to help anyone that is impacted by this!

LucasArts as a developer hasn't made a good game for at least a decade. All of the good Star Wars games were third party like KOTOR by BioWare. So it makes sense to use the LucasArts as a publisher only. Still I am saddened that an iconic developer from my childhood game days has been put to pasture.

Dunno what the problem is here. Switching to licencing and letting other developers in on the action seems smart to me. Much more potential to do something innovative or just different. Bummer for the employees, but such is life. If they were or are any good, Im sure they will find new work.

As for anticipated dark plot type games, well, its Disney. They aren't going to do that, are they? They do family fluffy stuff.

Oh, old men: stop trying to take a kids franchise and expecting it to be grown up and adult. We get the same BS here in the UK about Dr Who. Same problem, old fans forgetting that is a kids show. Starwars is for kids, and us adults who refuse to grow up. But make no mistake, this is a kids franchise first.

That said, I do think Dr Who lets adults in better than the last 3 SW films did.

As many have pointed out, the cost of developing a game has escalated to a level where few companies can afford it. I wonder if the development industry is ripe to move from vertical integration to further specialization.

For example, we could have a standardized 3D environment format, where some companies specialize in creating those. Other companies could specialize in creating characters, others physics engines, story development, or direction.

An added benefit of this is a potential for game worlds to connect to each other (this has always been a dream of mine).

I know the industry is already specialized into development studios and publishers. I wonder if further specialization could spread out the risk, and increase the competitiveness of each party, even more.

The feeling I had when I first played Dark Forces was very similar to when I first tried Angry Birds: Star Wars. It was something akin to an a-ha moment like, "Wow, this game is SO much better now. The game play actually makes sense in this universe with these characters!"

DF was, at the time, an alternative to single-player Quake and Unreal, etc. and the overall feeling and theme (in my view) was spot on. Plus, it had a /story/ which many 1st-person shooters sorely lacked. Wolfenstein was really the only other one that really kicked ass, and it was ancient at that time. DF wasn't just a shooting simulator. It was ... immersive (which sounds so cliche, but it truly was).

RIP, LucasArts.

Indie Games are safer; small budget, small sales, still success. AAA games are gambles; huge budgets, great sales, are failures, they must have psychotically high sales numbers. I predict AAA titles will be fewer and fewer. Hopefully our gaming consoles will be augmenting that with smaller titles in the future.

It will be just like the movie business, usually you pay a little to rent decent movies run of the mill movies and watch them at home, and every once in a while you will pay theater prices to see Avatar or Harry Potter or whatever is hyper big budget and popular.

Gaming is still a young industry that needs time to find itself.

It's a shame. They made such great games back in their golden era. Why didn't they just cut down the team size and tried to develop some kind of Indie games, instead of yet another AAA Star Wars bullshit? They formed game design icons like Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, Noah Falstein, Hal Barwood and Brian Moriarty - Bring only one of them back to work on a small scale project and the result would be amazing.

But nah...whose asking me...


Here is the SF Gate article on it. I thought I would share it because it has some pictures of the campus. I have driven and walked by it and will be sad to see it go.

Their Star Wars games and Lego series were pretty good. I loved some of the old titles as well. I'm sad for all those incredible people who are now looking for work. I've been to that office and a lot of really great people poured their very being into that company. I'm sure they'll all land on their feet though.

Why wasn't it worth finishing the game in their pipeline? If it's mostly developed and they treat sunk costs as sunk costs isn't it basically throwing away money to cancel something that's pretty far along in development?

I'm... not sure you understand how the sunk cost fallacy works...

If anything, what they did was the rational decision.

If it's gonna cost X to finish the game and they expect to make more than X from selling the game, then they should finish it. The amount spent to date is irrelevant.

The current history of video game sales expectations has been "expected too much", "expected too much", and "expected too much".

I'm willing to bet that they did not expect to make more than X by selling the game.

Could someone with experience in the field, please elaborate on how the unit-expectation numbers are calculated? At the risk of sounding obvious, is it possible that the models used to gauge expectations are outdated?

Anyone remember Acclaim and THQ made their money making licensed (and thoroughly crappy) games for Disney? Before they went and bought original properties/studios? Now both Acclaim and THQ are dead.

I guess we will have to wait for some Kickstarter project for the next "Tie Fighter" or "X-Wing" game. I don't know if it was because I was a kid but those are games bring back very fond memories.

Dangit. I was really looking forward to Mickey and Goofy's epic light saber battle with Kermit and Sith Lady Piggy in "Disney's Magical House of Star Wars: Attack of the Muppets"

They should sell to EA, which is worse than death for a studio.

I guess this explains why their booth was empty at PyCon this year.

(Though I think they may have had an empty booth at previous PyCons...)

I guess I'm not surprised, but I am pretty sad.

I spent a lot of time in Lucasarts games as a kid. Fond memories. Thanks, Lucasart.

Sigh, I still remember Lucas arts from the days of Grim Fandango. This is obviously sad news :'(

The question is, who is going to be picking up the rights to produce the next Star Wars Games?

Perhaps the more interesting question is, who is going to be picking up all this creative talent looking for paychecks?

Or Ballblazer?

While I understand, this still makes me sad.

Same here. I had to look twice to see if this wasn't an April 1st post.

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