Electronic Arts (EA) is retooling their upcoming Star Wars title because they believe players don't purchase linear games anymore. The publisher, which has been voted "the worst company in America" two times by consumers, can't seem to catch a break with regards to their Star Wars games. The past few weeks have focused on DICE's Star Wars: Battlefront II's microtransactions and mismanaged progression system as well as EA's predatory tactics in recent titles - but that's not the only Star Wars game that's suffering under their leadership.
In October 2017, EA suddenly closed video game developer Visceral Games (formerly EA Redwood Shores) and is currently in the process of retooling the studio's action-adventure Star Wars title (code-named Project Ragtag) into something akin to Star Wars Battlefront, filled to the brim with live service features such as gates and microtransactions. Although a number of reasons contributed to EA's decision to shut down Visceral and hand the game over to EA Vancouver, one of the reasons is because people simply "don't like" linear games.
EA chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen spoke at the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference yesterday, and he told the audience that linear games aren't as popular as they once were and that's part of the reason they decided to pull Visceral games off that Star Wars title.
"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."
Although Jorgensen's quote may shed some light on EA's decision to close Visceral, subpar sales of linear games weren't the only factor in the publisher shuttering the studio and reworking their untitled Star Wars game. As Jorgensen mentions, Visceral had been suffering from behind-the-scenes issues that contributed to the studio's closure, but those concerns don't draw away from the fact that EA Vancouver's untitled Star Wars game will no longer be linear but possibly redone as a multiplayer title. Moreover, an important factor that EA may be overlooking is that linear, story-driven games tend to sell well when they're well-made and provide players with a natural sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as enjoyment (e.g. The Last of Us).
EA Vancouver's Star Wars title is only one of many Star Wars games EA has in various stages of development. And while it seems Star Wars' interactive future may be geared towards multiplayer, only time will tell how much the publisher listens to their consumer base, especially after Battlefront II's debacle.
Source: Blake Jorgensen (via GamesIndustry)