The Age of Reclamation

Friday, July 10, 2009
By now you've probably heard that Lucasarts has begun releasing a number of their older games through Steam. Perhaps you've even downloaded some (although, if you'd taken my advice a few weeks ago you might already have a few of said games. Lucasarts has said on their Twitter site that this is only the beginning. Thank God.

Why might Lucasarts suddenly be taking an interest in their old library? What's compelled them to start brushing the dust off of titles like Loom and the Dig? Could it be that they're out of ideas for Star Wars titles? Could it be that they just forgot they had these games sitting on their shelves? Could it even be that Hiro and I are responsible for bringing these game to their attention once more? Okay, so the last one isn't very likely, but a guy can dream can't he?

I think Lucasarts has been testing the waters for a little while. Their games of late haven't met with the kind of acclaim and excitement they'd like, to be sure and their sales seem to have dipped a bit since the Force Unleashed. Let's face it, Lucasasrts hasn't been preforming the way they'd like to (Fracture anyone?). But they have a plan.

It's been said that when economies falter, people get back to basics. This is as true of video games as it is of anything else. The recent resurgence of older franchises should be evidence enough of this. The latest Mega Man, Street Fighter 4, the remake of marvel Vs Capcom 2, the new Mechwarrior title, the new Bionic Commando are all revitalization's of classic older games. On top of that, all of them have sold very well with the exception of Marvel VS Capcom 2 and the as yet unofficial Mechwarrior game as they have yet to be released.

Lucasarts understands this philosophy and plans to capitalize on it. With a wealth of fantastic back catalog games at their disposal, Lucasarts stands to make a great deal of money off of this venture. The ball really started rolling in 2005 with the release of the episodic Sam & Max from Telltale, the company made up of many ex-lucasarts adventure games veterans. It wasn't part of any great scheme at that point, Lucas arts probably figured it would be a profitable way to get the angry Sam & Max fans off their backs in the face of Freelance Police's cancellation.

What Lucasarts probably didn't expect was that the series would meet with great success at the hands of it's new-old masters. Now, years later, Lucasarts is testing the waters by releasing the Monkey Island series, without question the flagship of it's adventure games, into the hands of Telltale Games. The announcement was met, as we all know with great enthusiasm.

With that, I theorize that the recent re-releases of Lucasart's old games signal more than a back to basics approach to games, but perhaps an unofficial survey. A sort of "where should we go from here?" sort of thing. I think that in the face of dwindling sales, Lucasarts has finally realized that it's future lies deeply entrenched in it's past.

More and more I think it's likely we'll see the sequel to Loom find a release. I firmly believe that there are more trips to be made to Maniac Mansion. Perhaps we'll even see Ben fuel up his chopper for another adventure.

Could Lucasarts bring back the adventure genre? Absolutely, as long as they play their cards right. Put them on major consoles as downloadable content and release the damn things for the DS and iPhone. These are perfect environments for adventure games to thrive. It should provide a wide base of players many of whom have played these games before, or grew up on them like me.

I think Lucasarts may even make an offer to buy Telltale Games in the near future. Who better to head a new adventure games division than the very people that gave us these games in the first place.

Am I wrong? Who knows really. I want to be right, of course. These are the games I grew up with, the ones I learned about the importance of story from. This is a genre long overdue for an overhaul and I think Lucasarts are just the ones to do it. Now if only they'd make a proper successor to X-Wing and TIE Fighter. Sigh...