It was announced yesterday, that well-known game developer Electronic Arts (otherwise known as EA) would be shuttering its Visceral Games studio, as well as changing up the design of the Star Wars game on which the studio had been working. In the announcement, Patrick Söderlund, EA’s executive VP stated that the company felt that they needed to “pivot the design” of the project, which would lead to a “broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency”.
The Star Wars game was initially described as being in the style of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, and as a “story-based linear adventure”. However, it seems that this will change, along with the closing of the Visceral Games studio.
Söderlund went on to say that the company had been “testing the game concept with players” as well as “closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace”. So, as part of this “pivot”, it looks as though the (yet unnamed) title will be delayed. The Star Wars project was initially set to be released late in EA’s 2019 fiscal year (April 2018 – March 2019), but the title has now been pushed back to “a new timeframe that we will announce in the future”, according to Söderlund. As most gamers know, this means that the game is being delayed indefinitely.
With the closing of Visceral Games, other studios within EA will be taking up the responsibility for the Star Wars title. In the announcement, Söderlund stated that “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”. This feels like a good move by EA, as the inclusion of the EA Vancouver team will ensure that there is somewhat of a smooth transition, and there will still be staff on the development team who worked with the game since its inception.
Since the initial announcement of the game itself, EA has not been very forthcoming with detail about the project. One thing we do know, is that Amy Hennig (former Naughty Dog creative director) is involved in the development, and she is co-writing the game alongside actor and writer Todd Stashwick, who had also previously been involved with the Uncharted series over at Naughty Dog. We did also get a brief look at the game at the 2016 E3 conference, but that look told us precious little.
As far as what EA has in store for us gamers with this restructuring, we know very little. However, with a re-focus on the Star Wars title, this may just be the shake-up that the developer needs in order to get a great game made in the canon of a great & timeless mythos.