January 16, 2019 EA responds to reports that the publisher has scrapped a major new Star Wars project.
EA has issued a comment regarding reports that it’s cancelled an open world Star Wars title in favour of a smaller, leaner production – sort of. The statement doesn’t directly address the cancellation, but it does say that the Vancouver team is continuing to work on what “will evolve into future Star Wars content and games,” which more or less fits with those earlier reports.
“There’s been speculation overnight about one of our Star Wars projects,” EA says in a statement circulated to various outlets. “As a natural part of the creative process, the great work by our team in Vancouver continues and will evolve into future Star Wars content and games. We’re fully committed to making more Star Wars games, we’re very excited about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from Respawn, and we’ll share more about our new projects when the time is right.”
The project in question was formerly known as Ragtag, which was in the works at Visceral Games under former Uncharted director Amy Hennig. EA shut Visceral down in October 2017. Ragtag was then handed off to EA Vancouver with support from EA Motive under Jade Raymond, while Hennig quietly left the company in January, saying that Vancouver had rebooted Ragtag, turning it from a linear action-adventure to an open-world game. Raymond, perhaps or perhaps not incidentally, also left EA near the end of October 2018.
According to a report from Kotaku last night, Vancouver’s rebooted game was codenamed Orca, and it has finally been canceled. Kotaku says EA executives felt they needed something “earlier than the planned release date for Orca” when they considered their road map for the next few years. So Orca has been scrapped for a “smaller-scale Star Wars project” that can be released sooner – perhaps late 2020, which is also a good bet for the launch date of next-gen consoles.
Kotaku’s sources also say that EA didn’t let anyone go as part of this latest tumult, which is notable in a difficult time for the big publishers (to pick just one example from many in recent weeks, see Activision’s decision to walk away from Bungie and Destiny, once one of its great money-spinning hopes, as is reflected in the impact on its share price).
This news is a shame, as both Ragtag and Orca sounded pretty promising. The former would’ve been a gritty heist story with multiple protagonists, while the latter, according to Kotaku, would’ve cast you as “a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.”