Wednesday, October 18th 2017

EA Shutters Visceral Studios, Pivots on Unreleased Star Wars Game Design

The death knell is sounding in Visceral Games (creators of the Dead Space series), courtesy of EA. The publishing company has shuttered another one of its studios, and is looking to move employees from Visceral to what others remain. Apparently, the Star Wars game, which had a tentative release date for 2019, was shaping up as a "story-based, linear adventure game": not that much of a surprise, considering it was being helmed by Uncharted series veteran Amy Hennig. A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development, led by a team from EA Vancouver that was already working on the project.

Apparently, EA wasn't much enjoying the way the game was developing; usually, linear, story-based games don't lend themselves much for microtransactions or loot boxes, now do they? Citing "shifts in the marketplace", EA says that "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," so that it "allows for more variety and player agency." All in all, this sounds much like Destiny, or upcoming Bioware game Anthem. But it will also certainly lend itself better to further monetization, considering how it's one of the industry's most important sources of revenue.

Source: EA Blogs
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44 Comments on EA Shutters Visceral Studios, Pivots on Unreleased Star Wars Game Design

#1
StrayKAT
After already destroying Bioware, there wasn't much else to look for story based games from EA. Hennig's game was their "only hope" for me.

May EA be damned.
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#2
Vayra86
I actually started a new playthrough of Dead Space (1) just a week ago.

Sad to see another solid dev torn to pieces
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#3
natr0n
EA used to have that slogan "challenge everything".
It's more like "destroy everything".
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#4
lZKoce
Vayra86 said:
I actually started a new playthrough of Dead Space (1) just a week ago.

Sad to see another solid dev torn to pieces
To this day I think this is the best sci-fi survival horror I have came across, hands down there is no dispute. I bought the two graphic novels. I've replayed the mobile and PC games many times. There's something there that I haven't seen anywhere else.
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#5
Prima.Vera
EA, the worst company in the World again in 2017/2018?? They certainly get my vote for sure.
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#6
bug
StrayKAT said:
After already destroying Bioware, there wasn't much else to look for story based games from EA. Hennig's game was their "only hope" for me.

May EA be damned.
Truth be told, in a world of DLC and microtransactions, the story always gets thrown under the bus. I don't follow big budget AAA titles for quite a while now, but from I have played, only the Witcher series still had a standout story.

And I don't play EA titles because of Origin.
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#7
StrayKAT
bug said:
Truth be told, in a world of DLC and microtransactions, the story always gets thrown under the bus. I don't follow big budget AAA titles for quite a while now, but from I have played, only the Witcher series still had a standout story.

And I don't play EA titles because of Origin.
RPG wise, sure the Witcher stands out. But this wasn't RPG. Just an action game. As far as big budget goes, good games like this are still everywhere. Tomb Raider, Bioshock, GTA, Batman, Amy Hennig's own Uncharted games.. Why the hell hire the person who wrote Uncharted and then do this? These people are hopelessly stupid.

Also, MP wise, they already have Battlefront and an MMO for Star Wars... and yet still did this. And if they're now trying to chase some "Destiny market", they're going to lose again. Just like their dreams of a "WoW killer" tanked, and they never quite have a massive shooter hit like COD.
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#8
RejZoR
EA has the worst self awareness. NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 lived for 6 years. I could still get people play it online last year. Needles to say, EA didn't invest ANYTHING into it. They just released it, gave it 1 or 2 patches and let it rot even though there were many things to fix and lots of potential for people to maybe invest money in. Like new DLC cars. They did release few car packs, but since they let the base game to rot to death, it was of little meaning to release things for a game that's essentially dead. They are in the gaming scene for decades and they behave like they have absolutely no clue what the hell they are even doing. If you keep gamers happy you'll make money. Lots of it. What they are constantly doing is just pissing everyone off by shutting down good studios, making moronic business decisions and leaving good games to rot. Where is that Jackie Chan's image where he's holding his head with both hands with confused expression on his face, when you need it...
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#9
bug
StrayKAT said:
RPG wise, sure the Witcher stands out. But this wasn't RPG. Just an action game. As far as big budget goes, good games like this are still everywhere. Tomb Raider, Bioshock, GTA, Batman, Amy Hennig's own Uncharted games.. Why the hell hire the person who wrote Uncharted and then do this? These people are hopelessly stupid.

Also, MP wise, they already have Battlefront and an MMO for Star Wars... and yet still did this. And if they're now trying to chase some "Destiny market", they're going to lose again. Just like their dreams of a "WoW killer" tanked, and they never quite have a massive shooter hit like COD.
Substitute "story" with "gameplay" if you wish ;)

I like games that challenge the mind, not entice me to grind. I'm on the fence about Path of Exile though, where you have to grind to be able to check whether your toon is actually worthy - though that may be self-inflicted because I play solo.
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#10
StrayKAT
bug said:
Substitute "story" with "gameplay" if you wish ;)

I like games that challenge the mind, not entice me to grind. I'm on the fence about Path of Exile though, where you have to grind to be able to check whether your toon is actually worthy - though that may be self-inflicted because I play solo.
Same here. And to me, these story driven action games are often the best way to present that. They don't usually have levels or grinding. They revolve around puzzles, more or less (puzzles laid out in a Stage itself, or puzzles with enemy types and boss battles, etc..). Not challenging though, if you've seen the puzzle somewhere else already.
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#11
TheinsanegamerN
Didnt have enough lootboxes and micro transactions for EA.
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#12
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
:lovetpu::lovetpu:
StrayKAT said:
RPG wise, sure the Witcher stands out. But this wasn't RPG. Just an action game.
:confused: The series is very much RPG. Action game would be the Sniper Elite series, as an example.
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#13
Dj-ElectriC
Nothing to see here, just another company swallowed and destroyed by EA.

Dungeon Keeper 3 anyone?
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#14
StrayKAT
rtwjunkie said:
:lovetpu::lovetpu:
:confused: The series is very much RPG. Action game would be the Sniper Elite series, as an example.
This star wars game wasn't RPG. It was action... as in action adventure. There wasn't much else known, but that much was said multiple times.

I don't know.. unless you're one of those gamers who consider even GTA an "RPG". I run into people who do that, but I don't know where they're coming from. :)
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#15
neatfeatguy
TheinsanegamerN said:
Didnt have enough lootboxes and micro transactions for EA.
(TL;DR at end)

I used to frequently play a MUD (yeah, yeah.....some of you may be thinking "WTF is a MUD?" or others laughing that someone admits to even playing one this day and age), but over the past few years they heavily switched over to a micro transaction type setup for their game.

Years ago they would hold "extra" pay-type event that would go for the span of a couple weeks. Very unique places made specifically for the venue. GMs would role play characters and there'd be wide interaction between players and them. Most of these "extra" events were done a couple of years apart. People that paid a little extra, usually around $50, got access to unique areas, items and lots of role playing opportunities. I had a blast at the handful of these events that I attended.

The MUD was, and still is, subscription based. The cost of a basic subscription has varied over the years from $9.95 (once the game left AOL years back and moved directly to the web) to $14.95 today. There are tier based subscriptions, but $14.95 is the base cost to have full access to all the game has to offer in the normal, base game. Basic sub means you get 1 character, locker access and so on. You can pay an extra $20 a month on top of the basic price for a Premium account and you're allowed 15 characters, access to a premium member only area and 10% discount on "extra" event prices and a few other benefits.

A few years back the company introduced an out of game currency you can buy to apply to "special" items that can aid you in game for specific things, but these items are not needed nor are you restricted in how the normal, base game functions if you don't buy these items. They then introduced special events that no longer cost an entry fee to access it. Anyone and everyone can go to these areas, even the F2P accounts (F2P accounts have heavy restrictions on it and micro transactions at the real cash store are almost required to play the game normally if you don't want to pay $15 a month for a basic account) can come to the areas. However, here's the kicker, to participate in the games or access stores or participate with merchants you have to buy coins with real cash from the coin store - it functions much like a cell phone game. All games are based on RNG and the chance of getting any decent item is very low. People have gone from spending $50 per account to access the events to spending hundreds to thousands of dollars for the new special in game currencies that are tied to each different event so you can build up enough to purchase rare items. The actual in-game currency (silvers) you used to use to buy things at these special events because that is the in-game currency you earn from combat, selling loot and such has been so diminished by the extra special currencies that are now tied to these pay to play events that require micro transactions is that it's pointless to save up silvers for anything since they're no longer used for anything.

All events have been pushed to requiring micro transactions from the coin store now. All the special "extra" events from years ago that had so much unique interaction from GMs are gone. You basically need to pay to play and it's not just a few bucks to get anything good, you have to put in a lot of money and time. As odd as it sounds, I had two accounts and spent around $600 a year on the game (this is on the low end compared to majority of the rest of the people that play). Add another $50 every one or two years for an "extra" event I would attend. But with the change over to requiring someone to have a subscription based account, plus needing to spend hundreds of $ on coins from the store I couldn't stand it anymore and I cut ties with the game. A MUD that I've played off and on since '94....I dumped all my in game items and sold off in game silver and walked away.

TL;DR: I walked away from a MUD I've played since '94 because they moved to a heavy micro transaction pay method.

I won't play a game that requires micro transactions so you can enjoy the full functionality of a game. I'm not a game company's personal piggy bank. If they provide a quality game with a single purchase to enjoy the game in its entirety, I'll will support them and buy the game. I won't be nickle and dimed. I won't support those companies/games that require micro transactions
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#16
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
Meh, just means more opportunity for indie developers to build in depth linear games.
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#17
Dj-ElectriC
Easy Rhino said:
Meh, just means more opportunity for indie developers to build in depth linear games.
Its funny that you mentioned that. EA made other developers jump on the opportunity to destroy SimCity
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#18
lexluthermiester
Dj-ElectriC said:
Its funny that you mentioned that. EA made other developers jump on the opportunity to destroy SimCity
Right? And look at the completely wonderful and SUPERIOR games we got as a result.

Haven't bought a non-GOG.com EA game since 2009[Red Alert 3, which I swiftly crack to run offline]. EA hasn't made a decent quality game since that time. Or more to the point, they haven't made a game that has made me want to give them money to deal with the acceptably foul DRM schemes.

Note to EA; Make GOOD games and lose the DRM, micro-tranactions & DLC. Then you might get some of my gaming budget again, outside of GOG. Until then, EffU!
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#19
bug
lexluthermiester said:
Haven't bought a non-GOG.com EA game since 2009[Red Alert 3, which I swiftly crack to run offline]. EA hasn't made a decent quality game since that time. Or more to the point, they haven't made a game that has made me want to give them money to deal with the acceptably foul DRM schemes.

Note to EA; Make GOOD games and lose the DRM, micro-tranactions & DLC. Then you might get some of my gaming budget again. Until then, EffU!
Did you miss the news where the gaming industry tripled its value because of microtransactions and DLC? So EffUs :(
Posted on Reply
#20
lexluthermiester
bug said:
Did you miss the news where the gaming industry tripled its value because of microtransactions and DLC? So EffUs :(
Don't care how much money they've made. Money doesn't equal quality. EA and others have proven this with all of the "AAA" shovel-ware they produce.
Posted on Reply
#21
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
StrayKAT said:
This star wars game wasn't RPG. It was action... as in action adventure. There wasn't much else known, but that much was said multiple times.

I don't know.. unless you're one of those gamers who consider even GTA an "RPG". I run into people who do that, but I don't know where they're coming from. :)
I'm not sure you paid attention to what sentence of yours I was quoting and responding to. I agree Star Wars and GTA are not RPG btw. Other than that, not sure where you are going with all that.
Posted on Reply
#22
bug
lexluthermiester said:
Don't care how much money they've made. Money doesn't equal quality. EA and others have proven this with all of the "AAA" shovel-ware they produce.
Didn't say you should care. But when they rake in the cash, there's no reason for them to change their ways, is it?
Posted on Reply
#23
lexluthermiester
bug said:
Didn't say you should care. But when they rake in the cash, there's no reason for them to change their ways, is it?
From a business point of view, that's a good point. From a quality point of view, it's total rubbish. And they are continuing to alienate players. The world is waking up to this kind of BS.
Posted on Reply
#24
StrayKAT
rtwjunkie said:
I'm not sure you paid attention to what sentence of yours I was quoting and responding to. I agree Star Wars and GTA are not RPG btw. Other than that, not sure where you are going with all that.
I'm not sure what you're quoting then either. lol. Looks like we agree, after all. I said originally that Visceral wasn't making an RPG, but it seems you got that mixed in with the Witcher comment... which we'd both say is an RPG.

bug said:
Didn't say you should care. But when they rake in the cash, there's no reason for them to change their ways, is it?
I'm not sure they are raking in cash. They keep closing down studios.

They're not proud of some of their games either. A successful company goes out of it's way to show the sales numbers and brag. They hide that stuff, when it comes to Bioware, for example. They probably spent as much as CDProjekt on DAI ($80 million) or more, but the sales sucked. It never even reached top 10 on NPD charts. And dropped price immediately. I knew MEA was doomed before it even released... and that EA would try to keep a brave face. But they ended up having to admit how much it sucked by just shutting future development down.
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#25
bug
StrayKAT said:
I'm not sure they are raking in cash. They keep closing down studios.

They're not proud of some of their games either. A successful company goes out of it's way to show the sales numbers and brag. They hide that stuff, when it comes to Bioware, for example. They probably spent as much as CDProjekt on DAI ($80 million) or more, but the sales sucked. It never even reached top 10 on NPD charts. And dropped price immediately. I knew MEA was doomed before it even released... and that EA would try to keep a brave face. But they ended up having to admit how much it sucked by just shutting future development down.
Well, if the industry triple in value, where do you think the money went? Closing down studios doesn't mean they're doing bad, they probably close those without enough margins.

You don't have to take my word for it either: http://investor.ea.com/releases.cfm?ReleasesType=Earnings
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