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EA Wants Games as a Service

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Last week EA announced the closure of Visceral Games, the studio currently developing a futur Star Wars game (not Battlefront). The reason they gave was quite fascinating.

Apparently the new Star Wars game was shaping up to be a linear story-based game. So pretty much exactly what I would want in a Star Wars game that wasn’t Battlefront. You may recall this was the game being director by previous Naughty Dog story directory Amy Hennig. Hopes were high for an awesome action-adventure story-driven game.

But since, you know, who would ever want a Star Wars story game, they decided to go in a different direction.

EVP of EA, Patrick Soderlund, said instead of making a linear story-based it to be reshaped “to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”

Whatever the heck that means? That’s just gobbledygook gibberish you say when you have no idea WTH you’re going to do with a defunct game and studio.

Alas, the writing is on the wall. EA wants loot boxes and games a service. They want the recurring revenue and microtransaction. And it’s clear that these business models do impact game design.


  • Music has been successfully re-positioned as a service. Movies have been successfully re-positioned as a service. TV has always been a service but has been re-positioned even more effectively to monetize that role. Reading is in the process of being re-positioned into a service, although the extreme conservatism of the pre-existing customer base for that product is making the transition take longer than expected.

    Over the next decade or two almost everything will be converted from a “product” model to a “service” model. The Internet of Things will facilitate the assimilation of even the most hard of hard goods into the service sector.

    Gaming has no hope of bucking this trend. It’s not a fad or a fashion; it’s the new century coming in.

    • I don’t disagree, but the fact that movies or tv or books have become a service hasn’t negatively impacted them — my opinion. In fact, some area have greatly improved.

      Gaming on the other hand isn’t staying the game.

      You can turn games into a service without making them the “monetized” or “F2P” or “microtransaction” style games we’ve come to associate with the industry. MMORPGs have been games as as service for decades.

      I’d pay an “all-access pass” type thing to EA if I got access to lots of great games without having to drop box prices. If EA could crank out enough games and content for them, and added a few MMOs to the mix, I’d pay. I think that’s the direction they should go.

  • Means they want to monetise the crap out of it with loot boxes and DLC change it from a story based game to a shallow multiplayer experience.

    • I struggle to believe their vision would be so short-sighted as to deny themselves the healthy cash flow and positive light that a Star Wars “Uncharted” game would have brought. Star Wars as a property has the love of the people — many gamers in that group. Many people loved the Uncharted series — which sold quite well — and would have translated well to a Star Wars game in the same vein.

      Millions of units sold would have translated to a lot of good-will and investor relations.

      They already have a loot box multiplayer replayable Star Wars game coming out (Battlefront) so I just can’t believe they weren’t thinking straight.

  • Kotaku’s Jason Schreier posted a lengthy article with tons of juicy details about all this here:

    I haven’t read the whole thing but apparently it looks like the real reason EA may have nuked Visceral was because of their own internal problems.

    Not to say that EA doesn’t want every game to be a service, but it looks like in this case Visceral may have killed itself from within.

    • An interesting read. What I find most likely is the part where employees said they felt like the studio was never fully supported by EA because of its disagreement with the game’s direction. That led to a really unhappy/unhealthy place to work. That alone would cause half the people to always have one foot out the door — a death sentence to a successful studio.

  • Again, lets not confuse “EA being dumb, part 15332” with “the entire industry is doomed to be nothing but gateway games to lockbox shops”.