Yesterday, VideoGamer.com published an article alleging that EA had ceased development on Dead Space 4 and that the franchise had been effectively axed, after the most recent game in the series, Dead Space 3, allegedly failed to meet sales targets.
Our story details Visceral Montreal's alleged involvement with the unannounced project and referenced previous rumours of the studio's supposed closure.
The information was provided to us by a trusted source: an individual whose identity we agreed to protect, but whose background and statements gave us valid reason to trust their claims. We contacted Electronic Arts UK PR at 12:31 GMT on Monday, March 4, to ask whether they could confirm or deny that Dead Space 4 had been cancelled, or provide any further comment on the future of the series. This is standard industry practice.
In response, EA's UK representative asked us whether we would be willing to hold the story until the following day, Tuesday, March 5, to provide the publisher with more time to get a response from its US team.
After initially declining EA's request, we later decided that waiting for an official response from the publisher would be the best course of action. At 16:34 GMT we informed EA UK that we would be holding the story overnight - as per their initial request - in the hope of receiving an official response.
On Tuesday morning, having informed the US team of our request, EA UK informed VideoGamer.com that it does not comment on rumour and speculation. The story was published at 10:36 GMT to include this response, 22 hours after our initial correspondence with the publisher.
At 15:41 GMT, quotes alleging to be from EA appeared online. "Rumors about poor Dead Space 3 sales and an unannounced Dead Space 4 being cancelled are "patently false," EA tells us. Spread the word!", read a Gamasutra tweet. GameSpot also updated its story with an identical quote, again having claimed to have received the statement from EA.
With some confusion, we contacted EA UK to question the origin and legitimacy of this differing statement, which appeared to have been released to US media hours after we were told EA would not be providing comment.
At 16:09 GMT, EA UK informed us that it was now issuing media with a statement, which read: "While we have not announced sales of Dead Space 3, we are proud of the game and the franchise remains an important IP to EA."
At this point there was still no mention of the "patently false" quote. At 16:35 GMT, EA UK told us that EA US had not issued any statement other than the one quoted above. At 16:39 GMT, we again questioned EA UK where the "patently false" quote had originated from. At 16:40 GMT, EA UK informed us that EA's US team had not spoken to Gamasutra.
At 20:07 GMT, EA UK informed us that the US had prepared a revised statement, which was being issued to media on request. It stated: "These rumours are patently false. While we have not released sales data for Dead Space 3, we are proud of the game and it continues to be an important IP to EA. Appreciate your help bringing down this baseless rumour." At the same time, it confirmed that its Corporate Comms team - not US PR - had spoken to Gamasutra.
We later noticed that at 14:58 GMT, Creative Director at Electronic Arts and ex Art Director on Dead Space, Ian Milham, tweeted to say that "Almost nothing in that article is true. But thanks for the nice words on DS!".
VideoGamer.com would never publish information from a source whose identity could not be verified, or that we do not believe to be accurate. We carried out internal checks to verify the validity of the comments made by our source - and while we have a duty of care to protect their identity - we stand by the comments made in the original story.
We would also like to reiterate that we ran the story in good faith, taking the necessary steps with both EA and our source to ensure that the story was as accurate, fair, and well-represented as possible.
We find it perplexing as to why EA changed its stance on its decision not to comment on rumours and speculation, especially given the opportunities that the publisher had to clarify the situation before and after VideoGamer.com published the story. We firmly deny any accusations of fabrication on our part.