October 18, 2017

EA relocates the Visceral Star Wars game and closes the studio

Electronic Arts has announced that they are shutting down Visceral, the studio known for the Dead Space series and the upcoming untitled Star Wars game. The Star Wars game has been described by EA as "a story-based, linear adventure game" which did sound great, but now they seem unsure.

All we knew of the game was that Amy Hennig was involved in the story, a few concept pieces of art had been revealed and a small seven seconds of footage, see below, was shown off. How far the game was in development we will never know, but there is no denying that this move sucks and it is the word for it.

Anytime a studio closes, there are two main reactions, why and why. The first why is more of a why did you let it get so bad and the second is why not update the studio? The problem is that with this title, Visceral have been on radio silence, unless EA released something, which has been two times in the four year dev cycle it has been under. Each time EA talk about Star Wars, they push forward the notion that the Battlefront series is all they have, we have heard nothing about the Respawn Star Wars game either, outside of its announcement.

If Electronic Arts believed that the game was struggling with its direction, its look or any other number of possible features, they could have replaced a person or more at the single studio, why begs the question, why not update the studio. Based on their lame reason, it seems everything was not right with the game, except the visuals, so they are getting in new leaders and talent to work on it. What this means in the long run, is anyone's guess, but for now, we have to wait and see a lot longer until we hear anything more about this game, if we ever do.

Development of the game is being led by EA Vancouver, with studios from around the world taking over the rest. Here is the complete statement from EA about this.

Our industry is evolving faster and more dramatically than ever before. 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. 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 one of our upcoming titles.
Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. 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. 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. Importantly, 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.
This move leads to a few other changes:
A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project. Our Visceral studio will be ramping down and closing, and we’re in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA.
Lastly, while we had originally expected this game to launch late in our fiscal year 2019, we’re now looking at a new timeframe that we will announce in the future.
Bringing new Star Wars games to life for every passionate fan out there is what drives us as creators. It’s what has inspired us to deliver the massive new Star Wars Battlefront II experience launching in just a few weeks. It fuels our live service in Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes. Making games in the extraordinary Star Wars universe is truly a dream for so many of us at EA, and we have so many more experiences to come for players on every platform. We want to take the time to get each game right, to make it unique, to make it amazing.
We look forward to answering more of your questions, and sharing more on our plans and timeline for this new Star Wars experience, in the months to come.

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