EA reaffirms Visceral closure was not due to shift away from single-player

EA reaffirms Visceral closure was not due to shift away from single-player

EA has again addressed the closing of Dead Space and Star Wars developer Visceral Games.

In its recent earnings call – transcription thanks to the folks over at Seeking Alpha – CEO Andrew Wilson said that the closure had little to do the studio’s Star Wars game being a single player project, as many had assumed. Many outlets – including PCGamesInsider.bizpresumed that the developer’s closure was to due to ‘market shifts’ and that it would become a service.

But according to Wilson, this is not the case.

“So on Visceral, again, anytime you close a studio, it's a very, very tough decision and something that we take very seriously and we spend a lot of time working through before we make such a decision,” said Wilson.

“But it does happen from time to time as part of the creative process. And during the development process of the game that they were working on, we've been testing the game content with players, listening to their feedback in terms of what and how they wanted to play and really tracking that closely with fundamental shifts in the marketplace and we are seeing an evolution in the marketplace. And it became clear to us that to deliver the experience that players wanted to come back and enjoy for a long time, that we needed to pivot the design.

“You may have heard the conversation around single player versus multiplayer or single player versus live service and this wasn't about that conversation. It wasn't about this was just a single-player game or it needed to be a live service, it was more about how do we get to a point where the overall gameplay experience was right for players. We still believe strongly in a Star Wars IP, Star Wars Battlefront II as you will have heard we're very excited about. We're also very happy with some of the assets and content that was created as part of that game development and we'll be looking at how we can better utilise that in line with fan and player expectations in the future.”

Wilson was also asked about the implementation of loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II.

“There's really two conversations going on there,” the exec said.

“One is about value. And in a world where a player pays $60 for a game, will there also be value in the ongoing digital ecosystem that comes for many years? When we think about value, we look at Star Wars Battlefront II and we say, we start with a game that's nearly three times the size of the last game. We take what much of the content that would've been gated behind a Season Pass, and we offer that to the community for free. So we feel very good about the overall value proposition focused on keeping the player community together.

“Then as we think about players that are playing the game for many years post-launch and the digital ecosystem and the event-driven live services that they participate in, it comes down to the second conversation, which is, does the digital ecosystem offer the opportunity for an individual player in the community to pay to win?

“And balance and fairness inside of gameplay is very important to our community. And it's very important to us. And it's kind of a benchmark by which DICE builds games. And we have seen that in the many DICE games, multi-player games we've built over the years.

“When we think about this, it really comes down to what are the things that you can earn, what are the things that you can buy, and how do we manage progression through that process? And while we will be making adjustments based on feedback from the beta, which is great, and we'll continue a daily dialogue with our players to make ongoing adjustments for many years to come, as this event-driven live service continues, we feel very good about the fact that you can earn almost everything in the game.

“And more importantly, key elements that drive progression can only be earned in the game. But there will be an opportunity for players who come in to also enhance and extend their experience through the ongoing digital economy.

“And we believe that what we've got with a core base game that's three times the size, what would have previously been gated behind Season Pass is now free for all users, with a focus on keeping a community together, and an event-driven live service that we expect will continue for many years to come that is built around player choice and focuses around a world where players can earn everything they need to progress through the game, is the right way to balance this.”

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.