Electronic Arts have closed the doors on in-house developer Visceral Games. The publisher announced the closure in a blog post from executive vice president Patrick Söderlund, along with the news that they would be making rather sweeping changes to Visceral’s still unnamed Star Wars adventure game.
Up until the closure, Visceral had been building a Star Wars action-adventure title since Disney and EA announced a significant, multi-year deal for video game tie-ins in 2013. The game itself had been described as similar in design and style to Naughty Dog’s popular Uncharted franchise. According to Söderlund’s post however, that might be about to change.
“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,” Söderlund says in the post. “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.”
EA had originally planned for the game to launch late in its 2019 fiscal year (so around February/March 2019). These changes to the game’s core design mean it has now been delayed indefinitely. Other EA studios will now take over development of the title following Visceral’s closure.
“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,” reads Söderlund’s post. “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.”
Despite the surprise and shock felt throughout the industry at Visceral’s closure, very little is known about the Star Wars title that has been their focus for at least three years. The game made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance at E3 last year. Before that, EA and Visceral had excitedly announced in 2013 that former Naughty Dog creative director and Uncharted writer Amy Hennig would be penning the game with Justified actor Todd Stashwick.
The next game in EA’s Star Wars deal is Star Wars Battlefront 2, developed by DICE, which launches November 17. Titanfall 2 developer Respawn Entertainment is also working on an unnamed Star Wars title at the publisher.
Visceral Games was born in 1998 as EA Redwood Shores, where they created titles like Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, The Simpsons Game and the excellent The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King tie-in. The developer officially changed its name to Visceral Games in 2009. They were best known for their popular sci-fi horror franchise Dead Space and last year’s Battlefield Hardline.