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LucasArts are one of the leading publisher’s and developer of interactive entertainment software for the games industry. LucasArts has placed its main emphasis in their gaming development on that of the vital elements of film, compelling storytelling, painstaking character development and vivid settings. Their games have consistently focused on touching people’s emotions and have received critical acclaim from both players and critics alike numerous Game of the Year honours, including multiple awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (LucasArts official website).Much of their recent success has been on the franchising of the companies two major films, Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
• Critically Acclaimed
• Big games in development
• Loss of Jobs
• Heavy reliance on star wars
• Exploiting New territories
• Global Recession • Global Recession
• Piracy in gaming
The result of LucasArts being a subsidiary company of LucasFilm has meant, for LucasArts, the exclusive rights to the most successful franchise of all time, the Star Wars series. According to Anita Frazier, industry analyst for toys and games at NPD Group, "Star Wars games generally sell very well, and the Star Wars franchise is one of the top 10 video-game franchises of all time."( Lane F, 2008) Another franchise of LucasArts the hugely popular ‘Indiana Jones’ series has an eagerly anticipated game in production.
LucasArts have always used this to their advantage and up until recently their games line-up almost consisted of all star wars titles. ‘Knights of the old republic’ and ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ have been two of their most famous spin off’s of the franchise. Recently LucasArts have diversified their operations, including the upcoming Fracture game, but their Star Wars titles still remain their best sellers.
The recently released ‘Star Wars: The Force Unleashed’ has become the best-selling Star Wars game, or of any game previously released by LucasArts , of all time shifting over 1.5 million copies of the title. LucasArts also underestimated how popular the game would become with ‘unprecedented demand’. “This further emphasizes the undiminished popularity of Star Wars” ( Faylor C, 2008 ).
Through the years Lucasarts has built up a considerable amount of critically acclaimed titles. This has placed LucasArts as one of the leading publishers and developers in the industry. Many of these have been based on the star wars series, examples include lego Star wars, jedi knights and X-wing. Other titles include thrillville, Indiana Jones and Fracture. Two of their most successful titles, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars Battlefront, received rave reviews by players and critics alike.
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LucasArts games continually receive critical acclaim and commercial success, with the company's products having received numerous Game of the Year honours, including multiple awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. ( LucusArts official website )
Games in Development
There are major ongoing developments in LucasArts studios. Both of the companies most successful games have sequels in the pipeline, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic III and Star Wars Battlefront III. Both are highly anticipated with many rumours circling on the internet on the forms they shall take. Fracture and a new Indiana Jones game are also in the pipeline.
Loss of jobs
In recent months there has been significant job lay-offs at LucasArts. It is rumoured anything up to 100 employees have been laid off most from the company’s internal game-development studio.
It is still unknown the effect this may have on lucasArts but rumours are circling that this may be the beginning of the end of their internal studio. Shacknews is reporting via an unnamed source that LucasArts plans to not only fire 100 more team members but also halt all internal game development. ( shacknews 2008 )
Although Lucasarts responded to this rumour by announcing they are committed to developing games in-house giving the example of the new Indiana Jones game currently in development."We're committed to our internal studio... We're working on the next Indiana Jones game internally." ( Grohne M, 2008 )
Heavy Reliance on Star Wars
LucasArts reliance on their star wars brand is leading the company in a dangerous direction. This company was once recognised as one of the greatest developer’s of both adventure and simulator games in the 80’s and early 90’s. Their first entries in the star wars series were equally impressive.
Since then they have become accustomed to rolling out the star wars games and letting the brand name sell the product at the cost of quality. Titles such as star wars episode 1: racer and star wars monopoly have tarnished the brand name. In the many years since their triumphant era few of their titles have reached their previously high standards, Knights of the old republic and battlefront the most notable.
Their most recent entry into the star wars series has been Star Wars: the force unleashed. Although it has become the most successful game lucasArts has ever produced, it doesn’t have the quality to match its success. The main factors for its success were one, the large marketing campaign by LucasArts and two, the huge hype surrounding the game. Overall across each platform the average game score was 68 which is average considering its success.
“LucasArts shows absolutely no sign of making a significant shift away from George's most famous franchise, and by all appearances the company will live and, eventually, die on the Star Wars name and whatever it can wring out of it. It's a sad fate for a company that two decades earlier was one of the industry's brightest lights” ( Chalk A, 2008 )
Exploiting New Territories
As a publisher and developer it is vital for a company to expand into new territories such as the growing markets of China, South Korea and Brazil. As a company it is important for a company to expand so they can maximize their profits. LucasArts have taken the initiative in forming a partnership with Electronic Arts.
The new distribution and publishing arrangements are in Germany, Australia, Asia Pacific and Brazil. The terms of each deal grant EA the rights to distribute select future PC and console titles from LucasArts in each respective territory, and the rights to publish select titles in Asia Pacific and Brazil. These new partnerships complement the existing relationship between LucasArts and Electronic Arts in Spain and Japan. ( Gale , Cengage Learning, 2000 )
The global recession is having many adverse effects on the global economy today but many experts are predicting that the games industry may escape this effect and that it may actually be good for the games industry.
Experts use the example of the early 20th century during the great depression when the American film industry boomed as a source of entertainment. The game industry may find itself in the same position as it has now become a much more feasible source of entertainment to the film industry. This is because there can be many more hours of entertainment to be made in gaming over the increasingly expensive trip to the cinema. ( Prusik W, 2008 )
Although some experts predict that the gaming industry may escape the effect of the recession, the experts are clearly divided. The experts clearly feel that the gaming industry may be “too expensive” as discretionary spending is cutback.
“Are the people who bought an Xbox 360 going to go out and buy more and more and more software to go on this thing? There are limits,” he says. “You might buy five games or 10 games, but you’re not going to buy 100.” ( Behravesh N, 2008 )
Piracy in Gaming
One of the major threats to the gaming industry at the moment is piracy in gaming. It is a problem that stems across the world and throughout the industry. There have been many articles released in recent months describing the extent of the problem showing how serious an issue it has become.
In an article by CVG ( 2008 ), it has stated that up to 90% of US DS games are pirated. Owners are using an R4 chip to play pirated games downloaded from the internet on the DS. This could hurt LucasArts as they have made many ventures into this industry with titles such as, the force unleashed, Indiana Jones and Lego Star Wars.
PC gaming is also feeling the effect of gaming piracy as huge amounts of revenue are lost to illegal downloads. Infinity Ward's community manager Robert Bowling( 2008 ) said “The amount of people who pirate PC games is astounding” Some shocking figures show around 200 thousand people are downloading call of duty 4 per month which suggests more have downloaded this game then have bought legally in stores. This can also be applied to other games such as Crysis and Unreal Tournament III. This has left the PC gaming industry in crisis and some experts such as David Jenkins, have compared PC gaming to releasing a free version of the game that takes away from other formats.
An example of piracy in the console market would be the upcoming release of Fallout 3. Three weeks before its release it has already been pirated and is available for download on the internet. Although a modified xbox 360 is needed to play the game it has been highlighted that thousands of copies have already been downloaded. ( Jenkins D, 2008 ) This highlights the extent of piracy all across the industry and is a major worry for both developers and publishers.
Behravesh N, 2008, Is the video game industry recession proof? Available from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23472166 Accessed: 5/10/08
Bowling R, 2008 Piracy Sinking Games Industry, Available from : http://tiny.cc/PyatV Accessed : 11/10/08
Chalk A, 2008 The needles: What’s become of LucasArts? Available from: http://tiny.cc/be83s Accessed: 4/10/08
CVG 2008, 90% of US games are Pirated, Available from: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=181131 Accessed: 11/10/08
Faylor C, 2008 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Sells 1.5M in 5 days: Named Fastest Selling Lucasarts Game Ever Available from: http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/54879 Accessed : 4/10/08
Gale, Cengage Learning, 2000, LucasArts Announces New Distribution Partnerships With EA in Germany, Australia, Asia Pacific and Brazil.Available from: http://tiny.cc/DjwY8 Accessed: 4/10/08
Grohne M, 2008 LucasArts cancelling internal game studio: firing more employees. Available from: http://news.bigdownload.com/tag/lucasarts Accessed: 4/10/08
Jenkins D, 2008 Fallout 3 Pirated on Xbox 360 Available from: www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20598 Accessed: 11/10/08
Lane F, 2008 LucasArts Unleashes Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Available from: http://tiny.cc/EhBU5 Accessed: 4/10/08
LucasArts website, About Us, Available from: http://tiny.cc/CPrJY Accessed: 4/10/08
Prusik W, 2008, Analysts predict Recession Good For Gaming Industry. Available from: http://tiny.cc/CC9Qh Accessed: 5/10/08
Shacknews, 2008, LucasArts Denies Rumours, Available from: http://news.bigdownload.com/tag/lucasarts Accessed: 4/10/08