EA shuts down Visceral Games as their Star Wars game undergoes restructure
Sadly EA has shut down Visceral Games, the studio that brought me one of my all-time favourite games with Dead Space, a series (not so much the micro-transaction, co-up induced third game) that many consider to be one of, if not the best of its genre. It’s certainly sad news to fans that his talented studio will be disbanded, but thankfully at least there seems to be one positive, as it seems the developers will be assigned to various EA development studios. It still sucks, but I suppose at least no one has lost their job (yet).
However, this also means that the Star Wars title that Visceral Games were working on, will be no more, at least as we know it. This Stars Wars title was supposed to be a more linear gameplay experience, with a strong narrative aspect (think perhaps Stars Wars, meets Uncharted). EA brought in some high profile developers such as Amy Hennig (Legacy of Kain, Uncharted), Jade Raymond (Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs) and Kim Swift (Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead) under the new Motive Studio.
The reasons that EA gave on their statement, is that “Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace“. Which in other words how I interpret it, and I could very well be wrong, reads to me that after a load of focus testing (basically customer surveys and market research), it possibly means that rather than coming up with something somewhat original, the game has been sacrificed in favour of jumping on a bandwagon of market trends, which disappoints me.
EA also stated that “It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design. We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life.” They added “we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”
Which I read as they’ve seen what Activision and Bungie has achieved with the Destiny series and despite having the newly announced Anthem, they want a piece of that market pie. Again, I could be totally wrong and I hope that I am. I’m just disappointed that studios like Visceral Games is being shut down and we’re not going to get that appetising Star Wars game with so much potential that was revealed over a year ago and then we got teased at EA Play that same year.
Rather than me being sulky and all negative, perhaps this potential online focused game set in the Star Wars universe with “greater depth and breadth to explore” that will want to have players “to come back and enjoy for a long time to come” could be a new RPG with Knights of the Old Republic elements, or something we’ve already seen work reasonably well on PC with The Old Republic MMO. But that’s probably just me being overly optimistic.
Only in June this year, rumours became regarding the Star Wars game from Visceral hinted that it could be set after A New Hope, but before The Empire Strikes Back, it all sounded so promising. The original Star Wars concept from Visceral Games was slated for a 2019 release, but that is now very likely to have changed, we’ll keep you posted when we hear more.
To be the bearer of more bad news (sorry about that, but its relevant), back in 2015, Visceral Games hinted that they’d love to make another Dead Space one day. But I suppose we still do have the Star Wars title coming from Titanfall developers, Respawn. Unless they get shut down too? Let’s hope not. You can read EA’s statement in full over at EA.com.