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What went wrong with LucasArts...

posted by Chyron8472 on - last edited - Viewed by 801 users

You know... this MI epic-ness has me wondering. What exactly went wrong with LucasArts back when adventure games died anyway? I know someone is going to tell me that some executive(s) higher up made decisions to cut back funding to adventure games, but bad sales on one or two games is not enough explanation why the whole adventure gaming industry died for several years.


I don't know if any of the Telltale Team can even respond to this, but several things don't make sense to me:

1) Why, when SMI and MI2 were apparently so popular, did LA dump any idea of Ron's MI3 and wait 6 years to create CMI?

2) Why, when CMI's animation looks wonderful, did they use a blocky and ugly looking "3D" style for EMI that was also entirely devoid of mouse controls and market it to console gamers? Why couldn't they make another MI game that looked similar to CMI? I love that game's graphics style.

3) Why did they drop Sam and Max: Freelance Police or stop making Monkey Island games altogether after EMI?

... as far as the rest of the industry goes, I've read that the reason why King's Quest 8 sucks as much as it does is because some exec told Roberta Williams of Sierra On-line to make it that way. That doesn't make sense since KQ6 was extremely popular, why change the formula?


It just doesn't make sense to me. If a developer creates a game and it's successful, and then for the next game they are pressured to make it look/feel a certain way which turns out to fail, why quit the whole industry? Why not just go back to what worked in the first place?

Suffice it to say, I don't understand why LA stopped making adventure games, or stopped making future installments of Monkey Island (SMISE doesn't count) just because sales for EMI were apparently lackluster. It doesn't mean there's no market, just that they made the game different than people wanted.

53 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @daro2096 said: Well once you know the solution to a game the game virtually becomes meaningless and boring. You can really only play adventure games once.


    Depends on the game. Indiana Jones and the Fate of atlantis they have 3 paths; Fists, Team and Wit I think. One with Sophia, one alone and one where you do fighting. King's Quest VI had the quick ending where you're missing almost a third of the game but it had some different puzzles and then it the longer more challenging one. Plus in Sierra games if you wanted to get a perfect score you'd have to replay it a lot of times.

  • @FitzoliverJ said: COMPUTER GAME GUY: Er... isn't that the point?

    GEORGE LUCAS: How dare you question me? You're fired! Everybody's fired!

    COMPUTER GAME GUY: That's what you think! I've got a gun! Bang! Bang! Oh, no, he's replaced it with a walkie-talkie. Nooooooooooooooooooooo!

    This seems so spot on =)

    I'm sure Lucas had nearly zero involvement with LA by that point, but it just seems so likely =)

  • @Chyron8472 said: YWhy, when SMI and MI2 were apparently so popular, did LA dump any idea of Ron's MI3 and wait 6 years to create CMI?

    According to Tim Schafer, MI1 and 2 sold pretty poorly, and they were asked to do something different after LeChuck's revenge.

    @Chyron8472 said: Interestingly, however, despite arguably being the best-known adventure series of all time, [The Secret of] Monkey Island and LeChuck's Revenge sold very poorly on release, especially in comparison to rival Sierra's King's Quest titles. "People like to go on about declining adventure game sales," Schafer notes, "but in my experience it only got better after that. Monkey 2, they said, sold about 25.000 copies; King's Quest was selling something like 100.000 units at the time. Management came down on us and told us Monkey was a failure and that we should make something else. They were like, 'Guys, your games are funny like David Letterman', and this was when David Letterman was sort of cutting-edge comedy. 'You need to be more mainstream funny like The Simpsons'. So I think it is funny that everyone thinks Monkey Island was a big success, because at the time, at least, it wasn't. I don't know, maybe it was just pirated a lot."

    In comparison, Grim Fandango, sometimes acredited to killing the adventure game genre seven years after Monkey 2 because of it's low sales, sold someting like 500.000 copies.

  • @Bagge said: In comparison, Grim Fandango, sometimes acredited to killing the adventure game genre seven years after Monkey 2 because of it's low sales, sold someting like 500.000 copies.


    You can't really compare the sales of Secret and LeChuck's Revenge to the sales of Grim Fandango. Note that the big game of the old days was selling 100,000 copies. By the time Grim Fandango had come out, the industry had grown, and LucasArts with it. LucasArts made big investments for big returns. 25,000-100,000 sales just didn't cut it anymore, because budgets were bigger and expectations were higher.

  • @Rather Dashing said: You can't really compare the sales of Secret and LeChuck's Revenge to the sales of Grim Fandango. Note that the big game of the old days was selling 100,000 copies. By the time Grim Fandango had come out, the industry had grown, and LucasArts with it. LucasArts made big investments for big returns. 25,000-100,000 sales just didn't cut it anymore, because budgets were bigger and expectations were higher.

    Sure, the industry grew between 1991 and 1998, but 100.000 units was not a huge seller, even i 1991. Zelda: A Link to the Past, also released in 1991, sold millions, as did Sonic the Hedgehog and even Pitfall for the Atari 2600, almost ten years earlier.

    Grim Fandango's unconventional setting and story made it far from a surefire hit, but it still sold a respectable number of units and made a profit for Lucasarts. What really "went wrong with Lucasarts" was the new Star Wars craze starting with Phantom Menace in 1999.

  • Back then, I'm pretty sure that pirating games were even worse than now, considering the ratio to original vs copied game. Gamers were for kids and teenagers, and they didn't have much money back then. So, piracy was extremely rampant. Original games were a rarity for me and plenty of other people it seems, as it looks that when you buy a used Amiga today, the games that comes with it are maybe 1 original for every 100 pirated game. I rarely ever see an Amiga come with more than 10 games, and even 5 is somewhat rare.

    I'm pretty sure PC were equally bad when it comes to piracy.

    @Bagge said: Sure, the industry grew between 1991 and 1998, but 100.000 units was not a huge seller, even i 1991. Zelda: A Link to the Past, also released in 1991, sold millions, as did Sonic the Hedgehog and even Pitfall for the Atari 2600, almost ten years earlier.

    Grim Fandango's unconventional setting and story made it far from a surefire hit, but it still sold a respectable number of units and made a profit for Lucasarts. What really "went wrong with Lucasarts" was the new Star Wars craze starting with Phantom Menace in 1999.


    But you have to remember that these were for piracy-free consoles, thus the only way to get hold of it was to buy it. Had it been the same with PC (or maybe even Amiga games), sales would be pretty good as well.

  • It's hard to say without numbers and statistics, but anecdotally, I remember piracy being really widespread back when games were still being released on floppy disks. Me and my friends used to share all our games between us, and I don't think it even crossed our minds that we were doing somehing illegal when we copied a game.

    But you have to remember that these were for piracy-free consoles, thus the only way to get hold of it was to buy it. Had it been the same with PC (or maybe even Amiga games), sales would be pretty good as well.

    Piracy is always a factor, but I don't think removing piracy has a tenfold impact on sales.

  • @StarEye said: Back then, I'm pretty sure that pirating games were even worse than now, considering the ratio to original vs copied game. Gamers were for kids and teenagers, and they didn't have much money back then. So, piracy was extremely rampant. Original games were a rarity for me and plenty of other people it seems, as it looks that when you buy a used Amiga today, the games that comes with it are maybe 1 original for every 100 pirated game. I rarely ever see an Amiga come with more than 10 games, and even 5 is somewhat rare.

    I'm pretty sure PC were equally bad when it comes to piracy.

    But you have to remember that these were for piracy-free consoles, thus the only way to get hold of it was to buy it. Had it been the same with PC (or maybe even Amiga games), sales would be pretty good as well.

    They didn't have enough money to buy Monkey Island so they pirated it, yet they had enough money to spend on King's Quest...grumble grumble...dumb teenagers and their dumbness...grumble...

  • King's Quest was well known and had been out since what, 86? It had the time to build up a big fanbase, as well as Sierra being more popular than Lucasfilm ever was back then (and this is coming from a Lucasfilm/Arts fan). Sierra were the pioneers, and King's Quest was a big name, not to mention a lot more difficult to learn than the Lucas games (Sierra had all these different verbs that you had to figure out for yourself, and some of them you'd never guess had you not had a manual (which usually included all the verbs/words you could use in the game), or a walkthrough.

    But what it boiled down to was Monkey Island was still a newcomer and King's Quest had a rich history by the time the first MI came out, hence why it sold more. And piracy weren't really as rampant back in the mid-eighties as they were in the early nineties.

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