In an exhaustive interview at Kotaku, several Visceral devs came forward to shed some light on the year’s latest hotly discussed subject. To understand the run up to EA’s final decision on shuttering Visceral, it’s important to know a little about its past. Starting with Dead Space 3. It hadn’t performed as well as EA and Visceral had hoped for. Then there was Visceral’s next project, codenamed “Jamaica”, offering a pirate oriented experience. Yet, the arrival and success of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag saw to its demise, coupled with EA’s new Star Wars agreement.
As a result, Visceral was split into two halves and morale was badly damaged. While one half was working on the now canned Star Wars game, salvaging the resources from “Jamaica”, the other got to work on Battlefield: Hardline’s multiplayer component. For a while, despite the knock to studio morale, things were looking up for Visceral. Writer and director of several Uncharted titles, Amy Henning jumped on board with the Star Wars single player project. But the optimism found with her presence on-studio was short lived. With the team cut in half, Henning found herself under incredible pressure, micromanaging every aspect of the game. Eventually, concerns began to grow the this Star Wars project in particular would just be labelled an Uncharted clone as a result of Henning’s repeated interventions.
Come October 17th, EA made the decision to pull the plug after the resulting studio dissonance. The Star Wars project was originally set between Star Wars: Episode IV and V. Players would inhabit the life of Dodger, taking part in the criminal underworld of the Star Wars universe. The idea was to create a Star Wars heist movie in playable form, while players would command groups of gangsters and manipulate the environment to get the upper hand. To any gamer fan of Star Wars, this sounds amazing.
Admittedly, nothing can be done when a studio work dynamic falls apart. Yet some questions remain when putting EA under the microscope. Some could easily still pin the blame on EA even after all this information has come to light. Perhaps EA was a little too hasty to move forward with Star Wars titles when they split the studio in two, creating the precursor to Visceral’s demise. Of course, the question of EA’s affinity for microstransactions in their games remains unanswered. And it always will. Of course neither party will discuss those things. What’s done is done and further admission of what people are already in outrage about will only pour salt on the wound. For now, we’ll just have to see how well the new “Frankentein-ed” Star Wars project will do.