With little warning, LucasArts president Simon Jeffery resigned today. The company issued a brief statement this afternoon saying that Jeffery "has decided to leave the company and return to his native England with his family." No official reason for the exit was given. Mike Nelson, LucasArts' vice president of finance and administration, will serve as acting general manager until a replacement is found.
The announcement, first reported in the Los Angeles Times, surprised many in the game industry. Others, though, saw the resignation as just the most recent in a wave of recent departures, which have included several prominent decision-makers.
"The company is at a crossroads," said one industry insider reflecting on Jeffrey's departure. Another industry source echoed that sentiment, saying that Jeffrey leaves a publisher struggling to transition away from Star Wars-based products and produce original games that can sell in similar numbers. So far, LucasArts' internally-produced non-SW titles have not been much of a force: Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels was cancelled in August, and RTX Red Rock produced both tepid reviews and poor sales.
Jeffery joined LucasArts in 1998 as director of international business and was promoted to president in 2000. While at LucasArts, he oversaw the release of such titles as Knights of the Old Republic, the highly acclaimed Xbox RPG, and Star Wars Galaxies, the popular massively multiplayer game.
Jeffrey's exit comes at the end of a banner year for LucasArts. Star Wars: Galaxies is among the fastest-growing MMORPGs, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remains one of the Xbox's best-selling titles. The publisher's recent PC release Jedi Academy has also won praise, and its upcoming Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike is being eagerly awaited by GameCube owners.