EA says players don’t like linear games anymore

The motivations behind the decision to close Visceral Games and kill its Star Wars title are again in the spotlight.

Speaking at the Credit Suisse Conference, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said, as per Games Industry: “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 ten years ago.

"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."

These comments don’t directly contradict previous statements, although they perhaps do sit a little uneasily alongside them.

“This truly isn’t about the death of single-player games — I love single-player, by the way — or story and character-driven games,” executive vice president Patrick Söderlund said in the aftermath of Visceral’s closure. “Storytelling has always been part of who we are, and single-player games will of course continue.

“This also isn’t about needing a game that monetizes in a certain way. Those are both important topics, but that’s not what this is. At the end of the day, this was a creative decision. Our job is to give people a deep enough experience and story, and it’s also to push the boundaries forward. We just didn’t think we were getting it quite right.”

It’s important not to conflate the terms ‘linear’ and ‘single-player’ here. Certainly online open-worlds are more typically associated with the sort of emergent sandbox experiences larger publishers tend to favour nowadays, but plenty off offline single-player experiences are anything but linear.

At the same time, linear gaming still very much has its place. Call of Duty is famed for its dramatic but undeniably linear single-player campaigns, for instance, while tightly-constructed linear experiences remain very much in fashion across assorted genres such as horror, platform and racing.

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