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EA cancels Star Wars game and lays off 670 people as it focuses on live service titles

EA cancels Star Wars game and lays off 670 people as it focuses on live service titles
At least Star Wars Jedi 3 is safe (Credits: AP)

Not only has EA laid off 5% of its workforce but it’s giving up on licensed games in general, although Star Wars Jedi 3 will continue.

Only a few days ago PlayStation laid off 900 staff and now EA has joined (or rather rejoined) the disturbingly long list of publishers that have cut huge numbers of developers from their various studios, with 670 people losing their jobs this week. That amounts to 5% of its staff and comes after EA already laid off 6% of its workforce last March.

It’s a sadly familiar story by now, but EA’s situation is different in that it’s at least partially explained why. Or rather stated that it’s undergoing a change of direction, that will see it moving away from licensed games and focusing on its core franchises.

The implication is that this also means focusing more on live service games, as EA cancels its first person shooter Star Wars project at Respawn and announces the closure of single-player Battlefield studio Ridgeline Games.

Little is known about the Star Wars project, except that it took some inspiration from the recently remastered Dark Forces and was rumoured to be based on The Mandalorian .

Respawn had several Star Wars games in development, including a strategy game by third party developer Bit Reactor, but it’s unclear what its fate might be, especially as it’s never been shown in public.

However, the third, and presumably final, entry in the Star Wars Jedi series , is confirmed to still be going ahead, despite the change in direction and the exit of series creator Stig Asmussen.

EA has flip-flopped backwards and forwards on single-player games multiple times in its history, its most recent period of scepticism being broken by the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in 2019.

Whatever the Iron Man game is, it’s still happening (Picture: EA)

That led to them signing deals with Marvel to make Iron Man and Black Panther games , neither of which have been demonstrated in public so far. A third, unknown, Marvel game was also announced when EA first gained the licence but has never been mentioned again since.

There may be contractual reasons why they have to continue with Marvel, and some of the Star Wars games, but although EA has said they won’t break their connection with Disney entirely it’s unclear whether there’ll be any more single-player games after the current slate of projects is completed.

Although EA’s position on single-player games seems to be relatively fluid, EA CEO Andrew Wilson has stated that they are definitely ‘moving away from the development of future licensed IP.’

According to IGN , the company’s focus will now be on EA Sports (which, ironically, is highly dependent on licences), Apex Legends, Star Wars Jedi, Iron Man, Black Panther, Battlefield, Need For Speed, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Skate, and The Sims.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – will its sequel be EA’s last Star Wars game? (Picture: EA)

This creates some confusing messaging, with no explanation of why Star Wars Jedi 3 makes sense for EA but the unnamed first person shooter game doesn’t – especially if it was based on The Mandalorian. It’s also surprising that, given the franchise’s poor track record with story campaigns, the single-player Battlefield game hasn’t been cancelled but moved to developer Criterion Games.

As with recent layoffs at other publishers, EA’s CEO has been extremely vague as to why these layoffs are necessary, taking about, ‘an accelerating industry transformation where player needs and motivations have changed significantly. Fans are increasingly engaging with the largest IP, and looking to us for broader experiences where they can play, watch, create content, and forge deeper connections.’

At no point does he state what these changes are or why, if people are attracted to ‘the largest IP’, they’ve decided to move way from licensing things like Star Wars and Marvel (the high cost of those licences and Disney taking a cut off the profits is, no doubt, the reason).

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‘We are streamlining our company operations to deliver deeper, more connected experiences for fans everywhere that build community, shape culture, and grow fandom’, added Wilson.

He also emphasised a focus on ‘massive online communities’ and their current line-up of titles, many of which are live service already.

As is the case for most of these companies EA is currently in no financial difficulty, with its recent financial results – which cover the all-important Christmas period – seeing revenues rise by 7% to $2.37 billion.

Black Panther video game teaser image (Picture: EA)

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