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Jim Ward zur Zukunft von LucasArts nach Episode III

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von (Captain Ardiff)

Der Hollywood Reporter hat ein Interview mit LucasArts Präsident Jim Wars zur Zukunft von LucasArts und den Star Wars Produkten nach Revenge of the Sith geführt und gepostet.

Im Interview geht Ward auch auf die Zeit nach Revenge of the Sith ein und spricht kurz über die TV und Spiele Zukunft.

LucasArts, the video game arm of George Lucas´ empire, is home to some of the most valuable intellectual properties in entertainment with its "Star Wars" and Indiana Jones franchises. The company aims to reinvigorate its video game business with next year´s launch of "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith." LucasArts president Jim Ward recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter´s John Gaudiosi about the company´s future in interactive entertainment.

The Hollywood Reporter: George Lucas founded LucasArts in 1982, but its video game strategy has not maintained its early success. How will things improve?

Jim Ward: LucasArts is a great game company, and we had a solid track record in the early ´90s of delivering great games to the marketplace. That hasn´t happened in recent years. I think we can get back on track by taking advantage of the opportunities we have within this company. The Lucas family of companies are unique in the industry. We have a firm base in the theatrical business, the home entertainment business, the television business, the visual effects business, the sound effects business and the interactive gaming business. This is what everyone else is trying to emulate. George figured this out 20 years ago. However, we haven´t been that great at optimizing the opportunity. I want LucasArts to utilize these companies to deliver great games. The recent launch of "Star Wars: Battlefront" was an example of how we can successfully leverage LucasArts games with other divisions. Over its first four weeks, the game has sold over 1 million units in the United States and an additional 500,000 copies internationally -- and that´s before the holiday season officially begins. I see this as a major first step in establishing LucasArts as a quality game maker and a new direction for the "Star Wars" game brand. By leveraging a playable Xbox game demo on the release of the "Star Wars Trilogy" DVD, we showed the type of synergy that we can carry across companies. With co-marketing between the home entertainment and game space, we also proved that the "Star Wars" (intellectual property) is still a formidable force in this business. What we did has never been done before in the industry. We launched a video game day-and-date with a DVD. You can see the results, and that both excites us and shows us that the marketplace is ready for major entertainment events like this. It sets us up perfectly for next spring with our "Episode III" game.

THR: "Star Wars Galaxies" has become one of the fastest-growing and most popular massively multiplayer online games in North America since it debuted in June 2003. What titles are your next priorities?

Ward: We just launched an expansion pack for "Star Wars Galaxies" called "Jump to Lightspeed." The initial few days of data we have suggest that this will break records. We have a strong short-term lineup with "Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords" shipping for Xbox in December, and the PC version will come out in February. We have an original IP in the futuristic war game "Mercenaries" for PS2 and Xbox coming in January, which takes the free-form gameplay of something like "Grand Theft Auto" and marries it with the all-out-frenzied world of a mercenary -- it´s truly a playground of destruction. "Star Wars: Republic Commando" comes to Xbox and PC in March. And we have the "Star Wars: Episode III" game launching in conjunction with the movie in May for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Long term, we want to maximize our two major IPs. The "Star Wars" brand will live long after the last "Star Wars" movie. We´re taking "Star Wars" to the television medium, where we´ve already had great success with our Emmy-winning animated series on the Cartoon Network. As a result, we will have new live-action and animated TV shows over the next few years, and I think there´s a bright future there for games based on these new properties as well as original "Star Wars" games like a new real-time strategy PC game that Petroglyph is developing for next year. This game will take the (real-time strategy) genre in a new direction and will balance gameplay between the hard-core gamers who buy these games and the broader audience that´s familiar with the "Star Wars" brand. The game will encompass content from "Episodes III," "IV," "V" and "VI" but will focus more heavily on the original trilogy.

THR: You have also mentioned revitalizing the Indiana Jones intellectual property.

Ward: There´s no reason Indiana Jones shouldn´t become in the game world what James Bond has become. We´re now focusing on a new lineup of Indiana Jones games, the first of which will launch in 2006 regardless of whether the fourth film is set to open that summer. We want to reinvigorate this franchise, and I think we can release new Indiana Jones games on a yearly basis.

THR: Would an Indiana Jones game feature Harrison Ford´s voice and likeness?

Ward: We´re currently evaluating the value that bringing Hollywood likenesses and voices to the table would bring to Indiana Jones. I´m not convinced that the wholesale studio approach that Electronic Arts undertakes with its James Bond and other Hollywood-licensed games is the way to go. Integrating Hollywood talent into games loads the development costs to a degree, and do those costs generate incremental revenues in return? With "Star Wars" and Indiana Jones, people identify with these brands. It might make sense to work with one or two actors from a property on the game front, but we´ll see. Certainly, with Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones. So something like that might make sense.

THR: Where are you in developing the "Episode III" game?

Ward: It´s going to provide the ultimate Jedi action fantasy fulfillment that we´ve hinted at in previous games. We brought in Nick Gillard, the stunt coordinator for the film, to work with the game animators and the entire team to ensure that the Jedi action moments are as real and true to the performances in the film. (Actor) Hayden Christensen came in and worked with the game development team to show them the style of his light-saber fighting. We´ve had the team fully integrated into the production of the film from beginning to end. Also, as I mentioned before, because we´re so integrated, we can leverage ILM assets through proprietary asset management systems and incorporate them into the game.

THR: What do you want consumers to think when they see the LucasArts brand on a game box?

Ward: We want to put the Lucas back in LucasArts. George stands for creativity, storytelling and pushing the envelope on technology in order to tell better stories. We want to take our strong technological background, marry that with great game storytelling and characters and get people excited about LucasArts games again. The fusion of great technology with strong story will allow us to give gamers new experiences.

Wenn Ihr den Artikel von John Gaudiosi selbst lesen wollt schaut einfach unter diesem Link bei den Hollywood Reportern nach.

Der Autor dieses Artikels

Bild des Autor Sven Moderow (aka Darth Sonic) ist Star Wars Fan seit seiner Kindheit in den frühen 80ern und beruflich als Web-Entwickler tätig. Zudem ist er der Gründer von darth-sonic.de und seit 1998 als Autor, Designer, Entwickler und Webmaster dieses Blogs tätig.

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