Electronic Arts has announced that it is closing the doors of Visceral Games, the studio best known for the Dead Space series. The developer had been working on a new Star Wars game, which will now shift directions and move to a different EA team.
“Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe,” said Patrick Soderlund, executive VP of EA worldwide studios, in a post on EA’s website. “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.”
The untitled project will now be developed by EA Vancouver, which had already been working on the game. Soderlund says it 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.”
However, as an unfortunate side effect of this change, Soderlund said EA “will be ramping down and closing” Visceral. It doesn’t sound as if its entire staff will be laid off, as EA is “the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA.” But this still marks the end for Visceral as we know it.
Visceral has been around for the better part of two decades, starting out life as EA’s Redwood Shores studio. Its name was changed to Visceral in 2009 following the release of the first Dead Space in 2008. (Subsequently, general manager Glen Schofield and COO Michael Condrey left for Activision, where they remain as the leaders of Call of Duty: WWII developer Sledgehammer Games.) Its catalog of games is extensive, covering everything from Tiger Woods golfing games to Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel. It also developed a number of licensed games, including those based on Lord of the Rings, The Godfather, and James Bond (such as the surprisingly good Everything or Nothing). With the Dead Space series seemingly put on ice, Visceral has spent its recent years working on Battlefield DLC and the spin-off Battlefield Hardline.
Due to the changes the game is undergoing, it has been delayed. It had been due out in EA’s 2019 fiscal year, which runs from April 2018 through March 2019. Soderlund said, “We’re now looking at a new timeframe that we will announce in the future.” He also added, “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 Star Wars game Visceral had in development was being headed up by Uncharted veteran Amy Hennig. When she spoke about it last year, she said it may be “spiritually similar” to Uncharted but that it will also be its own thing. It’s unclear how or if she is still involved. We’ll report back as we learn more.