It’s been four years now since Disney decided to close down longtime Star Wars gamemaker LucasArts and instead sign an exclusive licensing deal with video game factory Electronic Arts. At first things showed some promise, with multiple titles expected including first-person shooter Battlefront, a third-person game from Dead Space developer Visceral Games, and more.
But in the four years since it’s all been a bit of a nightmare scenario for fans. And it keeps getting worse, as EA has announced that they’ve decided to shut down Visceral Games. Though there is some good news: the Star Wars game they’ve been working on is not being killed off with the developer. Not yet, at least. Read the full announcement below.
Here’s EA’s statement on the decision:
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.
The key focus point in all of that, is what exactly they mean by “pivot the design.” It sounds to me like they want to add multiplayer options to the game or maybe even make it a multiplayer focused game, which could potentially lead to a bad worldwide case of nausea. Hey, maybe it’ll even get microtransactions! Could we be so lucky? But thankfully that’s all speculative at the moment. There’s the chance it could still be something to be excited about.
Star Wars fans who also enjoy gaming have been itching for a great video game world built in that universe they love so dearly for a long, long time. A world they can explore. A world they can disappear into, become part of the story, play a vital role in important events unfolding. Just them and the Star Wars universe.
A single-player campaign with a linear storyline would be great. It’s why everyone was so excited about Star Wars 1313, a single-player game that was killed off. And it’s why everyone was so excited about this now former Visceral project. Just that brief tease of how the game looked was a wonderful thing. Even better would be an open-world RPG in which you can create your own character and really dive in and carve out your own story to exist among all of the other Star Wars stories.
But right now it’s unclear what we can expect. In four years we’ve only gotten a few games. There’s Battlefront, which looked and sounded absolutely perfect but ultimately proved to be an empty and soulless experience. No story, nowhere to explore, just running around the same maps shooting other players over and over and over again. There’s also been LEGO games, mobile releases, and so on. But that’s about it.
The only notable incoming title is Battlefront II. We know that the sequel, unlike the first game, will have some kind of single-player campaign, which is very much appreciated. What kind of time and effort was put into creating this single-player experience, however, is something that most who are interested in playing it will be waiting for some feedback on before committing to a purchase. If it’s anything like DICE’s Battlefield 4, a six to eight hour campaign which is still a broken mess to this day and which they seemingly never intended on fixing, well…not good.
There’s also no mention of what this means for Amy Hennig, the Uncharted series writer and director who left Naughty Dog specifically to join Visceral and work on this Star Wars game. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier said on the Twitter that the two parties are currently in discussions on what her role, if any, will be moving forward. Surely that won’t go horribly wrong.
Even if the game does still end up being something worth being excited about playing, there’s that added bonus bad news about the game now being even more than two years off. At least 2020, and possibly even later than that.
But it’s not all grey skies and sadness, kids. Just think, in a couple of years we’ll probably be getting Battlefront III, Part I (of seven). Smile!
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