Home Gaming Visceral Nightmares: How Loot Boxes Killed a Gaming Studio

Visceral Nightmares: How Loot Boxes Killed a Gaming Studio

written by Damian Gordon November 17, 2017

EA is trying its hardest to keep the title of “worst company” in the eyes of fans after their recent closure of Visceral Games studio.

Star Wars: Battlefront II is EA’s new sugar daddy that it can live off for a long time. The way it achieves this is garnering a lot of negative attention. This week, it’s for its loot-box driven economy that pushes players to grind and pay money like a free-to-play game.

This is the type of product EA wants, as it can profit long past release. That’s also why they kicked their old main squeeze Visceral to the curb. It had the model of “pay one time and own the game”. Disgusting.

Darth Maul from Visceral Star Wars game

Visceral Closes

News broke that Visceral shut its doors last month, leaving many employees displaced as a result.

Best known for their work on the acclaimed Dead Space franchise, Visceral has kept quiet in recent years as they worked on their untitled Star Wars game. The studio scored Amy Hennig, writer and creative director behind the Uncharted series, in 2014 to work their project. Making single player experiences is what the studio is known for, and EA’s reasoning why it made sense to close the studio.

EA released a statement on the closure, explaining they needed a game that would have players continuously returning to play (and spend) for a long time. The untitled game is now pushed to 2019, continuing development under EA Worldwide Studios.

“We are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency… reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”

Action Visceral video game Dead Space

This is the same company that said players wanted an always-online Sim City game in 2013. The community backlash was huge and forced an offline mode to be added post-release.

Although the industry has taken an interest in online gaming within the last decade, single player focused games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt shows there is still a big demand for them.

A New Focus On Multiplayer

Battlefront (2015) already gives fans their multiplayer fix, letting them live their dream of missing countless shots as a Stormtrooper. Now, being terrible at shooters can be written off as immersive role-play.

There are also EA multiplayer-centric games, The Old Republic or Galaxy of Heroes, which have a license to print money because of the Star Wars name.

Battlefront was a barebones package at launch that sold over 12 million copies. Street Fighter V, also barebones, struggled to 1.7 million units in a year. Both promised full content later (for more money) with the only difference being Darth Vader wasn’t in one.

Street Fighter V

Modest budgets are a fantasy in AAA game development, because certain publishers don’t want some of the money – they want all of it. EA is the Deebo of videogames as they shakedown customers with micro-transactions in $60 releases.

A studio like Visceral had two options in AAA development, sell big or go home. Former Dead Space level designer, Zack Wilson, took to affirm this on Twitter.

Employees Move On

Numerous gaming developers have opened invitations to join their team such as Rockstar, Bungie and Naughty Dog. EA said they’re relocating many former Visceral employees to their other studios. Ex-employee Zach Mumbach just had his second child and is still taking in the news:

Visceral may have ended its near 20-year run, but the people that made it are moving on to new chapters in their lives.

Are you for a multiplayer future or is single player your jam? Comment below with some titles and why!


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