EA Cancels Another Star Wars Game; Bungie Goes Independent – LMG 01/19

EA Cancels Open-World Star Wars Game

In yet another failed attempt to capitalize on the Star Wars license, EA canceled its open-world Star Wars project. The cancelation affects the EA Vancouver studio, whose game was announced after the Visceral Games closure in late 2017.

The open-world Star Wars game never saw a public gameplay reveal. The early announcement gave little time for the studio to compile something ready for public viewing. EA Vancouver rebooted the Visceral Games Star Wars project, keeping some art assets as it transitioned into an open-world structure.

Visceral Games worked on a game called project Ragtag – a Star Wars linear action-adventure game. Amy Hennig, former Uncharted director, provided her writing and directing expertise, yet it didn’t save the project from cancelation. With the studio closed and game canceled, it gave EA Vancouver and Respawn Entertainment the responsibility to use the Star Wars license.

After EA Vancouver’s project cancelation, Respawn Entertainment remains as the last team developing a Star Wars game – Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order. Respawn awkwardly announced the game at E3 2018 from an audience chair during EA’s game showcase. No trailers, photos or logos accompanied Respawn CEO, Vince Zampella, spoke about the new game.

According to Kotaku’s report, players would control a bounty hunter or scoundrel to explore different planets in the Star Wars universe. With such a large scope, EA executives decided to cancel the project in favour of smaller titles. EA plans to release something in 2020, rather than wait to complete a large project.

In a climate where development scopes continue to grow and budgets balloon, expect more cancelations. Publishers and developers want to mitigate risk, even if that means scrapping a year of development time.

Nintendo just scrapped a year of development on Metroid Prime 4 in favour of reinstating previous developers, Retro Studios. In 2017, Microsoft canceled Scalebound despite many years of development and demos at E3. Not only did they want to avoid sinking more resources into a failing project, Microsoft did not want another lacklustre game circulating in the news.

Star Wars: Rogue One writer, Gary Whitta, only praised what he saw of Visceral Games’ project. “I saw a bunch of that game and it looked terrific,” Whitta said. “After it was cancelled I saw some stuff, I saw what they had up that point, it was far from finished but it looked amazing, it would have been Star Wars Uncharted which I’m very excited about.”

Despite the cancelation, EA Vancouver did not lay off any employees.


Bungie Splits from Activision and Retains the Destiny Property

Activision and Bungie agreed to split to begin 2019, despite an agreement to develop 10 years of Destiny. The Destiny IP will remain in control of Bungie as the studio enters independence.

The two entities worked together for years as Destiny games under-performed and underwhelmed when compared to Activision’s expectations. Numerous expansion packs salvaged the abysmal launch for Destiny, but Destiny 2 reverted almost all progress made.

According to Kotaku, Bungie employees celebrated the split, even popping champagne.

Destiny 2: Forsaken

In a blog post, Bungie reaffirmed their plans to follow the announced roadmap while considering lessons learned from the Forsaken expansion. The post said, “With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.” Destiny 2 will remain on Battle.net, despite the split from Activision.

Destiny 2: Forsaken did not meet Activision’s sale projections. The community celebrated the expansion release while Activision reassured investors of a more prosperous future. Both entities imagined different things for Destiny, which stifled the game’s improvement. Destiny 2’s release abandoned all player progress, conflicting with the promise of a 10-year, continuous game.

With Bungie’s independence, they no longer need to meet investor expectations or answer to publishers. The split should allow Bungie to operate with more freedom, however, they must now inherent all risk.