'Disturbances in the workforce' at LucasArts?

'Disturbances in the workforce' at LucasArts?
Michael French

By Michael French

June 6th 2008 at 10:00AM

100 are said to have lost their jobs at the George Lucas games studio

According to reports on the web this morning there has been a number of layoffs at LucasArts, with up to 100 jobs lost as the firm looks to make sure much of its games development is handled out of house.

Posts on Kotaku claim that Lucas staff given their marching orders say roles across the board, from QA to production, have been lost as the company looks towards outsourcing games development.

Kotaku also says that Peter Hirschmann, VP of product development, has left the company.

Insiders now claim LucasArts is too under-staffed to manage the packed product slate it is rumoured to be preparing - including more Lego titles, and multiple new Star Wars games including new Knights of the Old Republic and Battlefront games.

Many of these games were already handled by external teams - such as Traveller's Tales (Lego), or the many independents it used to make Battlefront spin-offs, such as Rebellion. Other games, like a new Star Wars Clone Wars game, were already confirmed to be in development by LucasArts' new games development and animation studio in Singapore. Meanwhile Fracture, a non-Lucas IP based title being published by the firm, is in development not at LucasArts but at US independent Day 1.

It sounds most likely that internally-made games, such as the upcoming Indiana Jones title, could bear the biggest brunt of the layoffs. The studio's next game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, is reportedly mostly done and won't be affected by the layoffs.

LucasArts has seen some management changes of late. Former president Jim Ward stepped down in February - a departure rumoured to be related to a rift with other execs over his decision to postpone upcoming LucasArts games for quality reasons - replaced by former EA LA COO Darrell Rodriguez a few months later.

LucasArts has walked a fairly rocky road in games development - after a boom period in the '80s and '90s, it effectively had to start from scratch after firing virtually all its development staff in 2004. Since then it had to rebuild its development teams, working with sister company Industrial Light and Magic on a much-vaunted and promoted art and tools pipeline shared between development teams and movie special effect workshops.