EA has announced that it’s ‘ramping down and closing’ Visceral Games, the studio behind the Dead Space trilogy and Battlefield Hardline. Visceral had been working on a highly anticipated story-focused Star Wars game, which was to be directed by Amy Hennig. This will now be taken over by EA Vancouver. EA has said that the project will need to be ‘refocused’ as it seeks to shift ‘the game to be a broader experience’.
‘Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe,’ said EA’s executive vice president, Patrick Söderlund, in a blog post.
Söderlund said 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.’ This has resulted in the decision to move away from the game’s story-focused direction.
‘We are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency,’ said Söderlund, and he explained that EA plans to do this by ‘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.’
As a result of these decisions Visceral Games has now closed down. Söderlund has said that the company is ‘in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA’, but there’ll no doubt be a few redundancies. Hopefully those that do leave will land on their feet elsewhere.
Söderlund also said that due to the changes at Visceral, the game’s previously planned 2019 release will probably not happen. In closing he said that EA is now working towards a new release date ‘that we will announce in the future’.
This is the second time EA has been in the news for its sudden halting of projects and subsequent shifting of staff. Last month the CEO of Slightly Mad Studios, Ian Bell, said that EA had tried to 'kill' the developer of Project Cars 2, and that it’d poached staff in the process. Bell had even pointed the finger of blame directly at Söderlund as he went into the details about what happened. EA didn’t respond to Bell’s comments.