EA Shuts Down Visceral Games; Publisher Needs To “Pivot” The Design For Their Star Wars Project

Recently, Electronic Arts, one of the biggest publishers for Need For Speed and Battlefield, has announced the closure of the long-time running Visceral Games. The studio was known for their Dead Space franchise, a sci-fi survival horror action game, and as well as Dante’s Inferno. It was known that Amy Hennig, the former Creative Director from Naughty Dog, joined the studio to lead the Star Wars project codenamed “Ragtag”.

The Star Wars project is now being transferred to EA Vancouver – a Canadian subsidiary of EA that focuses on sports, and also developed Def Jam and Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. Transitioning to a studio with only a little action-adventure experience can probably cause a lot of problems with its development; but that’s yet to be seen as Guerrilla Games proved to be one of the prime examples of a studio who can do more than first-person shooters.

Here’s what Patrick Soderlund stated in his announcement:

“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.”

In this statement, Soderlund stated that they are shifting as many of the teams to other projects, and this might be true for the case of Amy Hennig. While she did spearhead and lead the development, EA’s possible shift away from the linear action-adventure can lead us to assume that Hennig might not be in the Star Wars Ragtag development anymore.

According to a spokesperson from EA who told IGN that they’re “in discussions with Amy about her next move.” The EA representative also added “We will be continuing to use a great deal of the work that has been done to date – the assets of the game that has already been built will be the foundation of this new game.”

We will update the story once we get more details.