EA closes Dead Space developer Visceral Games

Visceral Games, the studio behind the Dead Space franchise and most recently Battlefield Hardline, is being closed by parent company Electronic Arts.

Visceral Games was founded in 1998 under its original name, EA Redwood Shores, which was where the studio was based. Working on many EA licensed titles, the studio created games for multiple franchises with titles such as 007 Agent Under Fire, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Godfather, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 and The Simpsons Game

The studio changed its name in 2009 following the success of stand out sci-fi horror title Dead Space. However it has seen some high profile departures such as Glen Schofield, who went on to found Sledgehammer Games, and Steve Papoutsis who departed after the release of Battlefield Hardline. Both served as studio manager.

The studio was working on a Star Wars game following EA’s acquisition of the sci-fi franchise games licence in 2013 from Disney. Scott Probst was given the reigns as studio manager and former Crystal Dynamics and Naughty Dog writer Amy Hennig serving as creative director. Rumours of the closure began to surface on website Kotaku, which were later confirmed in a blog post by EA’s executive vice president, Patrick Soderlund.

Speaking about the development of the in-development Star Wars game initially, Soderlund said: "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."

"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."

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