EA Closing Visceral Games, Reroutes Upcoming Star Wars Project

By Mark Delaney, 1 month ago
Visceral Games, the California studio most famous for the Dead Space series, is closing its doors for good according to a statement from EA. The news was first reported by Kotaku's Jason Schreier and has since been elaborated on further by the publishing giant. The studio was known to be working on an untitled Star Wars single player game led by former Naughty Dog Creative Director (and the brains behind Uncharted) Amy Hennig. In a lengthy statement, EA's Patrick Söderlund addressed the future of that game as well as the shuttering of the studio.

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.
For those who would reply "TLDR," the gist of it is the game is being reimagined across several assisting studios and will be helmed by EA Vancouver, the brand's largest and oldest studio that has mostly contributed to several annual sports series to date. Söderlund's words hardly veil the suggestion that the game's original premise, a linear action-adventure, will no longer be its focus. It sounds as though it's being reworked to fit the popular "games as service" directive many games have followed.

As the Star Wars game shifts to Vancouver, some fans may also be wondering about the future of Dead Space.As the Star Wars game shifts to Vancouver, some fans may also be wondering about the future of Dead Space.

Naturally, this also means the game's launch date is being pushed back. What was once set for fiscal year 2019 is now rescheduled for a window to be determined. Söderlund does add that they are working to transition many of Visceral's employees to other branches in the massive EA tree. One could reasonably assume Hennig, a highly sought after creator in the industry, won't be let out of the building, although that remains to be seen. As for the rest of the studio, here's hoping they all land on their feet.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.