Electronic Arts (EA) officially closed Visceral Games - formerly known as EA Redwood Shores - and is currently in the midst of reworking the studio's untitled Star Wars game with EA Vancouver taking lead and getting support from other EA-owned development houses. The sudden decision to shutter the former Dead Space developer was met with confusion and criticism from consumers and industry professionals alike, especially since the publisher plans on retooling the game from what could have been an Uncharted-style action-adventure title to something expected to be akin to live service, potentially filled with microtransactions and loot boxes, along with a possible multiplayer component. It may be years before that game finally hits shelves, but it's not the only Star Wars video game on the horizon.
The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm, along with all its assets and subsidiaries, in October 2012 and effectively shuttered the company's in-house video game developer and publisher LucasArts a few months later in April 2013. The Mouse House then inked an exclusive multi-year licensing agreement with EA the following month through Disney Interactive Studios, essentially giving the Redwood-based publisher free reign to develop Star Wars games for the core gaming market (non-mobile) without competition. Shortly thereafter, EA put their internal studios - namely DICE and Visceral Games - to work on separate games set within the newly-formed canonical universe. But now Visceral's closure begs the question, what games are currently/still in development?
DICE's Battlefront Series
EA announced at E3 2013 that the first game to release as part of their new agreement would be Star Wars Battlefront, a reboot of Pandemic Studios' game series of the same name developed by EA DICE and set within the original Star Wars trilogy. Battlefront released in 2015 alongside J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with a sequel, Star Wars Battlefront II, releasing next month. Whereas the first game was multiplayer-only and solely focused on events that took place during the Galactic Civil War, Battlefront II delivers an original tale set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Battlefront II takes place shortly after the destruction of the second Death Star and follows the Imperial Special Forces group known as Inferno Squad, with players taking control of Imperial officer Iden Versio. The sequel is considered canon and expands upon the mythos that was left over from the original Star Wars trilogy. Lucasfilm wants to use these games to fill in the gaps between trilogies, while also giving fans an enjoyable game to play. Considering how successful the first installment was and how much hype is surrounding the sequel, it's certainly possible that EA DICE will release another Battlefront game around the time Abrams' Star Wars: Episode IX hits theaters in 2019 to cap off the trilogy.
Respawn's untitled Star Wars game
Respawn Entertainment - the studio formed by former Infinity Ward executives Jason West and Vince Zampella - burst onto the scene with their Titanfall series in 2014. Although they are not an EA-owned studio, they were initially funded through the publisher's Partner Program and that's why they have been given permission to create their own Star Wars game under EA's licensing agreement with Lucasfilm. Development on the untitled Star Wars game presumably began around the time of its announcement in 2016. And while details are scarce at this stage, the game has been confirmed to be a third-person action-adventure title.
Going based off Respawn's history with their hyper-active Titanfall series, as well as the studio's executives' history with the Call of Duty franchise, it's probable that their untitled Star Wars game will be multiplayer-based. However, considering that they specifically identified the game as an action-adventure title, it's also possible that the property is being developed as a single-player game. What's more, Stig Asmussen, the developer leading the charge on the project, spent most of his career working on God of War - a third-person action-adventure series - for Sony Santa Monica. Since Respawn's untitled Star Wars game might be single-player, it's possible that EA didn't want two single-player Star Wars games in development, which may have contributed to their decision to close Visceral Games. After all, EA can't retool Respawn's game the same way they did Visceral's since they don't own the studio.
EA Vancouver's untitled Star Wars game
Dead Space and Battlefield Hardline developer Visceral Games began working on their untitled Star Wars game (code-named Project Ragtag) in 2013, with the studio eventually bringing on former Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig to oversee the title's production. The game was described as being a linear, action-adventure title set shortly after the events of A New Hope. EA Motive - a new action-adventure-leaned studio founded by former Assassin's Creed producer Jade Raymond in 2015 - was brought on to help guide the story along. The first batch of footage of the game was shown at E3 2016, but despite keen interest in the project (especially after the cancellation of Star Wars 1313), EA shut down Visceral Games and transferred the property over to the newly-formed studio, EA Vancouver.
EA Vancouver, along with the help of several other EA-owned studios, is now in the process of reworking the game, changing it from its story-based nature to something that will be more accessible and welcoming to general consumers (read: not single-player). Judging by the industry's over-reliance on DLC and microtransactions, especially with the progression system in Star Wars Battlefront II, EA Vancouver's untitled Star Wars game will most likely be redone as a multiplayer game. It's unclear if Hennig will remain involved with the project at this point, but the game will certainly not be meeting its initially-planned FY2019 release. Unfortunately, there's no telling when the game will hit store shelves.
BioWare's The Old Republic
BioWare is the studio responsible for creating arguably the most revered Star Wars game of all-time: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The game released in 2003 and provided gamers with a story that rivals the movies. A sequel released the following year from Obsidian Entertainment, titled Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, and then an MMORPG encompassing the entire timeline released in 2011, titled Star Wars: The Old Republic. The game took over for Star Wars Galaxies as the de facto Star Wars MMO and it continues to be supported to this day. Unlike Battlefront and all the other games in development at EA, The Old Republic is part of Star Wars Legends (formerly known as the Expanded Universe), which means it's not canon. Considering that former KotOR and Mass Effect senior writer Drew Karpyshyn returned to BioWare's flagship Edmonton studio in 2015, though, to help shepherd the studio's latest IP, Anthem, it's possible that they could make another Star Wars game in the future.
- Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
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