Disturbance in the Force: Big Changes Coming at LucasArts?

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Kotaku‘s reporting that big shake-ups may be happening at the video game arm of George Lucas’ empire.

Among them are the alleged cessation of any further external development parterships, like the one with Traveller’s Tales. The two companies jointly produce the Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones games. Kotaku’s sources also cite impending reductions in staff headcount, too.

Many industry observers were surprised at Haden Blackman’s sudden departure from LucasArts three weeks ago. Blackman led development on both Force Unleashed games and he and others on the team referred to Starkiller’s second outing as their Empire Strikes Back, a statement that implies that there’d be another game in the pipeline.

(More: Hands-On With The Force Unleashed 2)

LucasArts is unlikely to directly comment on these rumors but, if true, they’d be a strong blow to what’s been a upswing in quality from the games division. Despite the recent stumble on original IP Fracture, the re-focus on all ages and core gamer titles with the Lego and Force Unleashed games has led to critical and financial success. A leaner, meaner workforce may still be able to generate great work but if they go through a rough transitional period, it probably won’t go unnoticed.