During a presentation for investors at the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology conference on Scottsdale, Arizona, Electronic Arts Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen talked about the closure of Visceral Games.
Jorgensen mentioned that Visceral had shrunk in size over the past five or six years, and it was down to about eighty developers, which is sub-scale in Electronic Arts’ business. The low number of developers was also among the reasons why support on developing the new Star Wars action-adventure was offered by EA Vancouver and Motive in Montréal.
The studio was trying to build a game that “really pushed gameplay to the next level,” but Electronic Arts kept reviewing it, it continued to look a “much more linear game, that people don’t like as much today as they did five years ago or ten years ago.”
While the economic calculation is never easy to do, the publisher came to the conclusion that they probably wouldn’t be able to recoup the costs of creating the game, so they made the tough decision to shut down the studio. At the moment they’re looking what can be done with parts of the game that were already developed, whether it’s making the title in a different style with a different studio, or reusing those parts in other games.
Ultimately, it was an economic decision, but a “large portion” of the developers involved are being re-employed on other games within EA’s organization, as the publisher is “trying to keep as many as they can.”
Jorgensen also added that the publisher tries to do this kind of operation as early as possible in development when things don’t work out, and they “probably let this go a little further,” but ultimately they had to realize that they have to “cut the bridge when you realize can’t really make a lot of money on something,” which is why they decided to close the studio.
Last month, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson also defended the decision to close Visceral Games, denying that the decision was due to the game being single player.