Vis­ceral Games closes down.

But re­ports of the death of sin­gle-player have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated


This month saw the clo­sure of Vis­ceral Games, the EA stu­dio be­hind Bat­tle­field Hard­line and the Dead Space se­ries. Vis­ceral’s Star Wars project—co­de­named Rag­tag— has thus been re­as­signed. The lin­ear ad­ven­ture is be­ing re­worked into a “broader ex­pe­ri­ence”. EA’s Pa­trick Söder­lund de­scribed what the com­pany is aim­ing for as “an ex­pe­ri­ence that play­ers will want to come back to and en­joy for a long time to come”. His state­ment sparked dis­cus­sion of whether sin­gle-player games are vi­able. In­ter­est­ingly, one of the peo­ple re­fut­ing that ‘death of sin­gle-player’ nar­ra­tive is Zach Wil­son, a se­nior level de­signer at Vis­ceral. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by gamesin­dus­, Wil­son notes that the only nar­ra­tive you can re­ally de­rive from Vis­ceral’s clo­sure is that “games are in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to make”.

it’s com­pli­cated

It’s easy to in­ter­pret Söder­lund’s words on the Star Wars game re­work as a de­scrip­tion of ex­actly the kind of mul­ti­player game which al­lows for or en­cour­ages loot boxes. The fear, then, is that sin­gle-player was junked for an op­por­tu­nity to nickel and dime play­ers via mul­ti­player.

But it’s not like mul­ti­player is a com­mer­cial panacea. This month, Gear­box’s hero shooter Bat­tle­born re­ceived its fi­nal up­date be­fore devel­op­ment on the game ceased. We’ve also had LawBreak­ers di­rec­tor, Cliff Blezin­ski, do­ing in­ter­views about grow­ing the grav­ity-de­fy­ing shooter from a small launch base.

Cov­er­age of both games has of­ten been dom­i­nated by con­cern over the low num­bers of con­cur­rent play­ers and the im­pact that has on those games’ prospects. I men­tion that not to rub salt into the wounds of ei­ther stu­dio, but to un­der­score the point that games are these com­plex, dif­fi­cult things to make. With that in mind, re­duc­ing their suc­cess or fail­ure (or the rea­son­ing be­hind their re­work­ing) to a sin­gle fac­tor is rarely use­ful. Philippa Warr

Vis­ceral’s Star Wars project has thus been re­as­signed

Vis­ceral’s staff are be­ing moved to new pro­jects and teams where pos­si­ble

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