Jim Ward has been named president of LucasArts, the video game entertainment division of Lucasfilm Ltd., it was announced today by Lucasfilm Chief Operating Officer Micheline Chau. In addition to his new role at LucasArts, Ward will retain his duties as the head of marketing and distribution for Lucasfilm.
"Last year, we unified our four operating units into a single company with the goal of better utilizing our diverse talents throughout our businesses," Chau said. "Jim is a perfect example of this. With the growing convergence of film and gaming, he has already been working extensively with LucasArts and now will be able to bring his management expertise and creative talents directly to the organization.
"Jim has done a fantastic job managing our film properties, and at the same time has shown a keen understanding of the interactive game industry and the impact it has on the entertainment industry," she said.
In recent months, LucasArts has released such popular and acclaimed Star Wars-themed games as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars Galaxies, and is planning to expand its range of original games.
"I've worked closely with every division of the Lucas companies, and it's clear there is enormous potential for synergy between visual effects, video games, licensing and film and television production," Ward said. "I'm looking forward to exploring how to integrate them into the current and emerging interactive entertainment markets, where so many possibilities exist. It's going to be a great adventure."
As a key priority, Ward will oversee the closely integrated September 21, 2004 debuts of the Star Wars Trilogy DVD and Star Wars Battlefront, a highly anticipated video game that immerses players in classic Star Wars battles.
In addition to Star Wars Battlefront, LucasArts plans to release at least three additional games this year: Star Wars Republic Commando, Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed and Mercenaries.
Ward joined Lucasfilm in 1997 and has led the development and execution of the marketing programs for Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode III. In addition, he led the successful campaigns for the DVD releases of the first two Star Wars prequels, the Indiana Smith DVD collection and Willow. Ward is also responsible for theatrical and television distribution, and the online distribution of Lucasfilm's content as well as its growing e-commerce activities.
Named one of AdAge's "Top 100 Marketers" and EPM's 1999 "Entertainment Marketer of the Year," Ward spent 15 years in the advertising business, where he was involved with some of the most significant consumer-product launches in history. As Senior Vice President and General Manager of BBDO/Los Angeles, Ward led the global launch of Apple's PowerBook. At Wieden and Kennedy, as Global Account Director, he spearheaded the worldwide introduction of Microsoft Windows '95 and oversaw Nike's participation in the 1996 Olympics, as well as the debut of Tiger Woods.