EA has cancelled yet another Star Wars game, this time an interesting-sounding project that was in development at EA Vancouver.
Making Star Wars games is very, very hard, and no one knows that better than Electronic Arts. The publisher has now cancelled three consecutive Star Wars projects: Visceral Games' Project Ragtag bounty hunter game in 2017, then EA Vancouver's live-driven open-world Project Orca in 2019, and now Project Viking, yet another EA Vancouver title. This marks the second EA Vancouver Star Wars project that EA has cancelled in a row.
Sources tell Kotaku's Jason Schreier that Project Viking was an open-world game derived from the Battlefront series. Viking was meant to fill the large Millennium Falcon-shaped hole in EA's 2020 Star Wars games lineup and launch on the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. EA killed the project in early 2019, sources familiar with the game say.
EA recently made a big to-do about its massive games lineup, promising to release 8 major AAA titles from now until March 31, 2021. A new Star Wars game won't be among these releases.
Viking's cancellation owes itself to a problem that seems endemic at EA studios: Miscommunication.
Jedi: Fallen Order, Respawn's single-player only action-adventure Star Wars game, has sold so well EA has adjusted targets to 10 million units.
The Guildford-based vehicle specialists at Criterion were enlisted to help EA Vancouver on Project Viking, but the time zone discrepancies interrupted workflows. This calls back the previous headaches BioWare faced when trying to work with DICE to get Frostbite working well in Dragon Age Inquisition. The project became a nest of snakes with too many heads and EA scrapped the project rather than giving the studios more time to iron out the details.
These cancellations mar the original cadence that EA had planned for its Star Wars games.
Back in 2016, the publisher announced a roadmap that saw a new Star Wars game releasing every year up until 2020.
To date, EA has only shipped three Star Wars games: Battlefront, Battlefront II, and Jedi: Fallen Order. It had originally planned to release five games by 2020.
Here's what the current timeline looks like:
- 2015 - Battlefront (released)
- 2016 - Various DLC packs for BF1 and Galaxy of Heroes (released)
- 2017 - Battlefront II (released)
- 2018 - Visceral's Project Ragtag (cancelled)
- 2019 - Project Viking (cancelled)
- 2019 - Jedi: Fallen Order (released)
- 2020 - Project Orca (cancelled)
- 202X - Motive's unannounced Star Wars game?
The future of Star Wars games
EA currently has two Star Wars games in development: Jedi: Fallen Order 2 from Respawn, a studio that has garnered tremendous freedom internally at EA thanks to Apex Legends and Jedi: Fallen Order's success; and EA Motive's unannounced Star Wars game, which is described as "unusual" and "unique".
Concept art for Visceral Games' cancelled Project Ragtag Star Wars game.
Visceral's Star Wars game might be dead for good
The remnants of previous projects like Visceral's Project Ragtag may be lost for good. Ragtag, which was led by Uncharted dev Amy Hennig, was actually far into development before it was cancelled by EA, complete with a cinematic-driven multi-perspective storyline.
When EA closed Visceral, it passed down Project Ragtag's assets to EA Vancouver for its own new game, Project Orca. Jade Raymond, who was then leading EA Vancouver, promised to use the work Visceral had made to fuel their new galactic bounty hunter project that was always doomed to fail.
"We have three terabytes of Star Wars artwork, which is crazy, and there is a lot of really good work there," Raymond told Game Informer in 2018.
"When we announced we were moving the game, the idea was pivoting more into player agency but still keeping a lot of the stuff that was great about it. There was a lot of really cool stuff like tons of assets and really cool characters that had been created. So, there's the goal of making sure we use all that."
Whether or not EA Motive's game gets released or not remains to be seen. Respawn's project likely won't be cancelled due to the studio's internal power and the massive acclaim of the first Jedi: Fallen Order game.