When EA shut down Visceral Games and axed its Star Wars project, the motivations behind it were pretty self-evident. Speaking at the Credit Suisse Conference, EA CFO Black Jorgensen has confirmed our fears, suggesting that gamers just don’t like linear single-player games.
“As we kept reviewing the game, it continued to look like a style of gaming, a much more linear game, that people don't like as much today as they did five years ago or ten years ago,” said Jorgensen.
I can faintly hear the sound of Nintendo, Guerilla, Arkane, Bethesda and Naughty Dog emptying their desks and heading home; they’ve been doing it wrong all these years.
"We made the tough decision to shut down that game team and take the parts of that game, and today we're looking at what we're going to do with those. Will we make the game in a different style at a different studio? Will we use parts of the game in other games? We're trying to go through that today."
From the sounds of it then, Visceral’s project has been absolutely gutted, and EA is looking at ways it can reuse the studio’s hard work for a future project. Repurposing the art assets seems the likely way to go about this, as well as shifting the project to open-world of multiplayer setting.
“This truly isn’t about the death of single-player games — I love single-player, by the way — or story and character-driven games,” said EA’s executive vice president Patrick Söderlund. “Storytelling has always been part of who we are, and single-player games will of course continue.
“This also isn’t about needing a game that monetizes in a certain way. Those are both important topics, but that’s not what this is. At the end of the day, this was a creative decision. Our job is to give people a deep enough experience and story, and it’s also to push the boundaries forward. We just didn’t think we were getting it quite right.”
Söderlund’s words are strange in that they are the antithesis of Jorgensen’s. On the one hand, Jorgensen is saying gamers don’t like linear games (read: won’t make enough money), while on the other Söderlund is suggesting this isn’t an issue of monetisation, but a creative decision for a game that wasn’t living up to EA’s expectations.
Fortunately, not all developers and publishers operate on a one size fits all policy, and there plenty of development powerhouses out there still delivering these single-player experiences, and delivering them successfully. What are your thoughts on EA's change of direction? A sign of the times or a misguided approach? Let us know!