Visceral’s Star Wars games was too linear for today’s gamers

Visceral's Star Wars games was too linear for today's gamers

Visceral’s Star Wars games was too linear for today’s gamers

Back in October, EA officially closed down Visceral Games, the studio that developed the Dead Space series and had a single-player focused Star Wars game in the works.

The closure of this studio moved Visceral’s Star Wars title to EA’s Worldwide Studios.  From here EA plans on “shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency”, with many reading this as a move from a more linear adventure to an open world with possible multiplayer and other methods of monetisation. 

While speaking at the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen claimed that the publisher wanted to bring this title’s gameplay to “the next level” and became cautious after they found that the game was becoming too linear. The below statement is the closest thing to saying that EA doesn’t care about single player linear experiences anymore, at least in the AAA marketplace.  

  Over the last five or six years, [Visceral Games] had shrunk in size, It was down to about 80 people, which is sub-scale in our business. And the game they were making was actually being supported by a team in Vancouver and a team in Montreal because of that sub-scale nature. And we were trying to build a game that really pushed gameplay to the next level, and as we kept reviewing the game, it continued to look like a style of gaming, a much more linear game, that people don’t like as much today as they did five years ago or 10 years ago  

To say that people don’t like linear experiences anymore is false, with Uncharted series, Tomb Raider series, DOOM (2016) and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus all acting as recent examples that showcase that linear gaming experiences can be successful in today’s market. The trouble with linear games from EA’s perspective is that they are more difficult to monetise outside of the games initial/retail pricing. 

We can also see this with Mass Effect: Andromeda, where EA didn’t create a single piece of single-player/story DLC, but focused entirely on the game’s multiplayer mode.  Andromeda’s multiplayer mode features a micropayments/loot system that players could buy items again and again. It is much easier to create a loot-based economy than create meaningful single-player DLC content.  

Visceral's Star Wars games was too linear for today's gamers

It looks like EA is not interested in creating a game that players can play through once and then move on, preferring to keep players engaged for longer which will then allow them to monetise the game more consistently over an extended period with microtransactions. 

While there were other problems within Visceral that contributed to EA’s decision to close the studio, it seems increasingly apparent that EA does not see traditional single-player games as a worthy investment. 


  We made the tough decision to shut down that game team and take the parts of that game, and today we’re looking at what we’re going to do with those,

Will me make the game in a different style at a different studio? Will we use parts of the game in other games? We’re trying to go through that today.

We haven’t had to do this very often. We try to do it as early as possible in game design, and we probably let this go a little further. But I’m a believer in sunk costs. You’ve got to cut the bridge when you realize you can’t really make a lot of money on something, so that’s the decision we made.

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