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HIVE EXCLUSIVE: Lucas Learning Exits Retail Channel

17 Sep, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

George Lucas' edutainment software company, Lucas Learning, has exited its retail business model and will focus solely on providing technology-based core curriculum products for grades K-12 to schools nationwide. For the time being, the company will leave its Star Wars license behind as it focuses on subjects like social studies, science and math.

“The edutainment CD-ROM business has been floundering for a while,” said Mary Sadeghy, director of sales and marketing, Lucas Learning. “It's a difficult marketplace. I can't think of anyone that's doing well in it.”

“Edutainment software has always been hard to merchandise,” said James Lin, managing director & senior analyst, Jefferies and Co. “As a retailer, where are you going to put it? In the education, games or software display section? It's also always been an industry dominated by one or two giants, currently Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing, which has made it tough for any of the smaller companies to make money.”

Sadeghy said that although the marketplace played a role in the shift to providing educational products directly to schools, it's also the direction that George Lucas wants to steer the company in as it evolves.

Over the past year, the company has been marketing six existing Star Wars edutainment titles to schools as supplementary materials, including Star Wars Math, Star Wars GunGan Frontier, Star Wars Droid Works, Star Wars Pit Droids, Star Wars Yoda's Challenge and Star Wars Early Learning Activity Center.

“George is committed to education and has been passionate about using technology to open up new learning experiences for young people,” said Sadeghy. “With the advent of the Internet, this is a huge industry on the verge of exploding.”

Lucas Learning is currently developing several products and exploring different modes of distribution, including the Internet, CD-ROM and books. Sadeghy expects the company to launch its new products with an established distribution partner.

Founded in 1995, Lucas Learning currently has a team developing content under the new business model. The company has brought in a new team to develop educational content, which is expected to be released on an ongoing basis throughout the year, once launched.

Star Wars Super Bombad Racing for PlayStation 2, released in April, was the company's first and last console game, and the last title to be released at retail under the Lucas Learning brand.

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