EA Has Reportedly Canceled Open World Star Wars Game
Electronic Arts has finally given the axe to its story driven, single-player-focused Star Wars game, reports Kotaku. A new Kotaku report, which cites multiple sources involved with the project, states that EA Vancouver’s open world Star Wars game has been permanently shelved by publisher Electronic Arts, not long after the title changed hands from the now shuttered Visceral Studios last year.
Tracing this story backward, Visceral’s Star Wars project was canceled “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.” By that we understood it to be an ongoing experience designed around recurrent user spending. According to Kotaku, this project was codename Orca and it involved bounty hunting across open-world planets, playing various factions against one another.
Then, in March 2018, EA began hiring for a AAA open-world online Star Wars game. This sounded like the same product, possibly chasing the Destiny/Division style of shared open-worlds and PvE content. In June of that year, ex-Naughty Dog director Amy Hennig parted ways with EA. This was followed by producer Jade Raymond, of Assassin’s Creed fame, also leaving EA in October. A lot of big names jumping ship, a canceled game, a rebooted project, and now yet another cancellation.
The Star Wars IP is hugely important to EA. At last year’s Develop:Brighton, Jade Raymond talked to MCV about how she oversaw new IP for EA, which largely involved looking at potential new titles to add to the expanded Star Wars canon. “We’re not stopping making single player games,” she said at the time, putting to rest some conjecture about EA’s approach to the Star Wars franchise. “You do have to hit Star Wars fan expectation, the number one motivator is to becoming the no.1 fan.”
However, It’s been a turbulent year for EA, owed in part to the controversies surrounding loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II. In October 2018 Raymond – who left Ubisoft to found EA’s Montreal studio in 2015 – parted company with EA and Samantha Ryan was appointed in her place.
“EA Studios is focused on bringing more creative new games and content to players,” John Reseburg, EA’s head of communications said in a statement at the time. “Samantha is known for driving creative design and supporting game teams so they can bring their visions to life. She is a deeply experienced game-maker with a gameography that spans from The Sims to Batman: Arkham City to No One Lives Forever to the highly-anticipated i.”
“With this change, Jade Raymond has decided to leave Electronic Arts. In her time with us, Jade helped to build great teams, and our projects underway at Motive and other studios continue unchanged. We’re appreciative of all of her efforts, and we wish Jade all the best as she moves on to her next adventure. We are driving greater creativity into everything we do across EA Studios, and we’ll look forward to sharing more in the months to come.
The news is a sad end for a project that many fans hoped would carry the flame for narrative Star Wars games. The franchise has historically been home to some of the most formative role-playing titles in the industry, when LucasArts oversaw publishing and development of series like Knights of the Old Republic, Jedi Knight, and The Force Unleashed. But story-driven Star Wars games have taken a back seat in recent years as EA, which obtained exclusive Star Wars publishing rights from Disney in 2013, put its focus on more mainstream multiplayer titles, including its Battlefront reboot.
The billions and billions of dollars EA has left on the table by repeatedly screwing up its use of the Star Wars license. We’ve had four new Star Wars movies in the past four years, the franchise has arguably never been bigger. The only new AAA Star Wars games? Star Wars Battlefront and its ill-judged sequel. EA has screwed up this opportunity in a huge way. A Star Wars game is practically guaranteed to sell millions and you couldn’t move for new Star Wars games during the 20 years prior. It’s a sad state of affairs for Star Wars fans, although there remains a beacon of hope in the shape of Respawn’s Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order, which is rumoured to be out later this year.