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 gamesindustry.biz, Wilson notes that the only narrative you can really derive from Visceral’s closure is that “games are incredibly difficult to make”.
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