Electronic Arts announced Tuesday that Visceral Games, the studio behind the Dead Space franchise and Battlefield: Hardline, was being shuttered. Additionally, the action-adventure Star Wars title Visceral had been working on for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC will have a new home and direction as influential Game Director Amy Hennig sees her latest project taken away.
EA Vice President Patrick Söderlund made the announcement in a blog post on the mega-publisher’s official website. Visceral Games’ Star Wars effort was to be the third pillar in Electronic Arts’ stable of games from the sci-fi pop culture phenomenon. DICE already has the Star Wars: Battlefront franchise, and BioWare is supposed to be working on a role-playing title.
Hennig is most well-known recently for being both the main writer and director for Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. She left Naughty Dog studio in 2014, with some rumors she had been forced out, before joining the Visceral Games a few months later to write and direct a new Star Wars action-adventure title.
That changed Tuesday as Electronic Arts appears to be moving the Star Wars title being worked on into the “games as a service” category currently occupied by such titles as Destiny 2, Rainbow Six: Siege, and EA’s own upcoming Anthem.
In its current form, [Visceral’s Star Wars title] 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.
Söderlund went on to explain while Visceral Games isn’t being closed immediately, it is going through the process of being closed. Additionally, the development team at the studio is being shifted to other studios and other EA projects as can be supported. However, it doesn’t sound as if all of the team will find new positions within Electronic Arts, and it is unclear if Amy Hennig currently has a future with the publisher.
The changes with Visceral Games’ Star Wars title also has an impact on the planned release date. Electronic Arts were targeting a launch by March 31, 2019. A new release window has not been worked out yet with the game now effectively going back to the drawing board with a new development team at EA Vancouver.
No details were known about the Star Wars title being worked on at Visceral Games beyond mention of it being styled after the Uncharted franchise. It will be interesting to see if any of the work done by Hennig’s team leaks out in the months to come.
[Featured Image by DICE/Electronic Arts]