When Jim Ward took over the reins at LucasArts as its president in 2004, he inherited a company that had been struggling to shed its dependence on the iconic Star Wars franchise. Seeing that efforts such as Gladius, Armed and Dangerous, RTX: Red Rock, and Wrath Unleashed failed to establish any brand capable of ringing up sales like George Lucas' galaxy far, far away, Ward embraced the profitable side of the Force.
However, Ward's tenure at LucasArts is coming to an end. As reported by Kotaku, the executive has resigned from his post with the publisher, citing personal reasons, and is expected to finish up his tenure in a couple of weeks. A LucasArts representative confirmed the news for GameSpot and said that Ward informed his company on Monday.
Ward will be replaced on an interim basis by Howard Roffman, a 25-year veteran of the LucasFilm organization. Roffman has most recently been serving as the company's head of licensing and legal, where he has spent years working with the gaming division. According to the representative, a search for Ward's permanent replacement has already begun.
Under Ward's direction, LucasArts enjoyed some success publishing original games such as the first Mercenaries game and the Thrillville series, but it has thrived by sticking to the old standards. By LucasArts' own assessment, Star Wars: Battlefront II is the most successful game in the franchise's history, and Ward's tenure has also produced hits such as Knights of the Old Republic II, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, and the PlayStation Portable exclusive Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron.
The coming years could be brighter still for the publisher, with a slate of anticipated projects including Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Indiana Jones games (both standard and Lego-flavored), a possible new franchise in Fracture, and a mystery massively multiplayer online game being developed by original Knights of the Old Republic studio BioWare.
Ward is also stepping down as the executive vice president of LucasFilm, where he oversaw much of the marketing effort for the theatrical and DVD releases of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In addition, he sits on the Entertainment Software Association's board of directors.
As of press time, an ESA representative had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment on Ward's status with the organization.