Former executives of UK-based Free Radical (since bought by Crytek and renamed Crytek UK) have claimed that LucasArts used “stalling tactics” in a bid to avoid paying the studio for work on Star Wars: Battlefront 3.
Free Radical co-founder Steve Ellis, co-founder and studio director David Doak and audio director Graeme Norgate claim that LucasArts made every attempt to prevent them from hititng pre-agreed development milestones on Battlefront 3.
Doak goes so far as to say that the LucasArts management he dealt with were “psychopaths” and that the ordeal resulted in him having a nervous breakdown. Things went downhill when former LucasArts president Jim Ward left the company and was replaced by Darrell Rodriguez.
“[Ward’s exit] was worrying,” Doak said, “but it didn’t seem like it would be a bad thing. And then we went from talking to people who were passionate about making games to talking to psychopaths who insisted on having an unpleasant lawyer in the room.”
Steve Ellis echoes Doak’s thoughts:
“For a long time we talked of LucasArts as the best relationship we’d ever had with a publisher. Then in 2008 that disappeared, they were all either fired or left. [Rodriguez] had been brought in to do a job, and it was more to do with cost control than making any games.”
According to the former Free Radical trio, LucasArts continually changed milestone dates to make sure the studio didn’t hit targets. Of course, that meant LucasArts didn’t have to fully pay out on what was originally agreed.
Graema Norgate said that LucasArts would look for any hole they could find to avoid paying out.
“If the contract says, ‘graphics for level X to be release quality,’ who can say what’s release quality? And there you have it… We hadn’t been paid for six months,” Norgate explains.
“In many ways it was a depressing farce talking to them. They had an agenda motivated by purely financial concerns,” Doak continued.
“Their goal was to stop doing it. And it didn’t matter that we had a contract that protected us.”
Shortly after the ordeal, Free Radical quickly went downhill. Doak says that dealings with LucasArts lead to a nervous breakdown and, after failing to agree a publishing deal for TimeSplitters 4, Free Radical went into administration.
Crytek then came aboard, buying the company and re-branding it as Crytek UK. Crytek UK are currently working on Homefront 2, to be published by THQ.