Disney has announced that LucasArts is being shut down. The software division of George Lucas' empire has been around since 1982 and has largely been responsible for almost every video game based on a Lucas franchise which includes Star Wars and Indiana Jones. The 30 year old company also brought us some of the most memorable point and click adventure games ever produced such as Maniac Mansion, Loom and Monkey Island. The closure of the developer brings with it the cancellation of the highly anticipated Star Wars 1313 as well as Star Wars: First Assault. This is an odd move considering how much money Disney put out to get everything from George Lucas but it definitely shows that nothing is off limits and the future of the Lucas legacy is "purely business". Disney will keep the LucasArts name for any future products that get farmed out to other studios but the roughly 150 person team that formed the studio are now laid off.
While this is sad, it is the growing norm for an industry that has become too bloated and largely lost sight of the core of video games as an entertainment medium. Budgets on many big games now exceed some of the biggest movies in Hollywood and selling "only 2-3 million copies" can result in the closure of a major developer. This is why indie developers and companies such as Nintendo continue to thrive, they have kept things in check and focused on great gameplay experiences while not hemorrhaging money on individual games chasing graphics or pure profit. As companies such as EA continue to "chase the dragon" in terms of graphical fidelity, they set themselves up for failure in an economy that can't support the inflated budgets needed to create such games. On the flip side, the purely "casual" budget titles overflowing from your app store of choice are the digital equivalent of a massive garbage dump. You may find a gem or two but you have to wade through a mountain of shit to find it. Unfortunately, the bulk of the industry finds itself stuck in one of these 2 categories.
Balance is the key to the industry surviving into the future. Video games are a creative medium that should focus on fun and engaging experiences over technical performance or a quick buck. Take heart in the knowledge that as long as some developers keep this in mind, the industry will thrive despite the inevitable "crash" we are building to. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.