EA has rather unceremoniously shut down Visceral Games, the studio behind Dead Space, Battlefield Hardline, and an upcoming Star Wars third-person action game. Development of the unnamed Star Wars project that was shown off at E3 2016 has now been handed off to another internal EA studio.
The Star Wars game as we know it will be going back to the drawing board though. EA has said it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game, helmed by Uncharted maestro Amy Hennig, but in order “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.”
“The games we want to play and spend time with, the experiences we want to have in those games, and the way we play…all those things are continually changing,” said EA’s Patrick Söderlund. “So is the way games are made. In this fast-moving space, we are always focused on creating experiences that our players want to play…and today, that means we’re making a significant change with [the unannounced Star Wars project].”
From the sounds of things, EA has been playtesting the game and listening to feedback, opting to shift the game towards “a broader experience” that gives players “a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.” For ‘broader experience’, we read multiplayer Games as a Service, as EA desperately chases the latest trend in an attempt at relevance. Considering EA had Hennig on board, this seems like a horrendous waste of talent and resources. The Star Wars movies haven't been seen in a better light for the last 35 years, and EA has absolutely failed to capitalise on this aside from a couple of Battlefront titles.
Visceral is now in the process of closing down, with EAA seeking to move as many of the team as possible into other EA studios. As for the new Star Wars game, its previous fiscal year 2019 launch date has now been scrapped. EA is looking at a new timeframe for the game that it will announce at a later date.
So that’s that, another EA studio bites the dust. There aren’t a great deal of EA studios left now aside from the EA Sports teams. Bioware had better be hoping beyond hope that Anthem is a smash hit; it’s easy to see the storied developer next on the chopping block after Mass Effect Andromeda.