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Blog: Disney's Disturbance at LucasArts

Yesterday's news was too impossibly big to immediately comprehend every last detail.

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Disney has fully acquired Lucasfilm, and announced a new trio of Star Wars movies, with George Lucas on the sidelines to limit the chances of instantly ruining them, in an extraordinarily guarded transaction worth about $4 billion.

The scope of this deal is mind-boggling. From 2015, the western world will be showered with Star Wars cartoons, comics, branded cereal boxes, Happy Meals, advertisement campaigns and a comprehensive toy collection.

On Tuesday, when Disney chief executive Bob Igor attempted to define the value of the Star Wars acquisition, his response bordered on the terrifying.

"Seventeen thousand characters that inhabit several thousand planets spanning 200,000 years," he said.

The business potential is staggering, and Disney's executive circle will no doubt have taken the success of its Avengers movie as further motivation to tie the knot with George. Disney purchased Marvel in 2009 for about $4 billion and, three years later, The Avengers became the second-biggest grossing movie of all time.

Cinema will be the driving force behind the new Lucasfilm business, but Igor knows there are remarkable opportunities for expanded media, merchandise and theme park rides created under the Disney ethos.

The problem, however, is that LucasArts doesn't seem to fit into these plans.

On Tuesday, Igor announced that Lucasfilm would focus attentions to mobile and casual games as opposed to the large console projects which LucasArts has undertaken.

It's an understandable decision considering the painful lessons Disney learnt about the cost of poorly marketed, badly timed triple-A games such as Split Second.

The group's mobile and casual business, however, has proven to be more encouraging, with iOS hits such as Where's My Water as well as a steady income from its Club Penguin operation.

LucasArts, however, doesn't have the correct development framework to switch to mobile games as efficiently as Igor's whims. Its 200+ developers have been hired and trained and put on desks to build triple-A console games, the next one being a promising next gen project called Star Wars 1313.

One has to fear for the future of LucasArts' console team. The company issued a statement last night that "for the time being all projects are business as usual".

It added: "we are excited about all the possibilities that Disney brings".

A friendly message to their new masters. Let's hope Igor's response will be as pleasant.

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