Reports suggest Electronic Arts has cancelled the development of its new open-world Star Wars game.
According to three anonymous Kotaku informants, the new game - which originally started development back in 2017 at the now dissolved Visceral Games - had been in development at EA Vancouver, but has now been abandoned in favour of a "smaller-scale Star Wars project" that would release much sooner than the original open-world game had been slated to go on sale. It appears the game - which had been codenamed "Orca" - was in "very early" development, and would've involved playing as an anti hero, maybe as a "scoundrel or bounty hunter", as they moved across the open-world planets of Star Wars' fictional universe.
EA has declined to comment, and there are currently no reports of layoffs as a result of these changes. Kotaku suggests some colleagues at the studio hope development on Orca might recommence in the future.
The Star Wars IP is hugely important to EA. At last year's Develop:Brighton, Jade Raymond talked to MCV about how she oversaw new IP for EA, which largely involved looking at potential new titles to add to the expanded Star Wars canon. "We’re not stopping making single player games," she said at the time, putting to rest some conjecture about EA’s approach to the Star Wars franchise. "You do have to hit Star Wars fan expectation, the number one motivator is to becoming the no.1 fan."
However, It's been a turbulent year for EA, owed in part to the controversies surrounding loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II. In October 2018 Raymond - who left Ubisoft to found EA's Montreal studio in 2015 - parted company with EA and Samantha Ryan was appointed in her place.
"EA Studios is focused on bringing more creative new games and content to players," John Reseburg, EA's head of communications said in a statement at the time. "Samantha is known for driving creative design and supporting game teams so they can bring their visions to life. She is a deeply experienced game-maker with a gameography that spans from The Sims to Batman: Arkham City to No One Lives Forever to the highly-anticipated i."
"With this change, Jade Raymond has decided to leave Electronic Arts. In her time with us, Jade helped to build great teams, and our projects underway at Motive and other studios continue unchanged. We’re appreciative of all of her efforts, and we wish Jade all the best as she moves on to her next adventure. We are driving greater creativity into everything we do across EA Studios, and we’ll look forward to sharing more in the months to come.