What’s that? EA, making a decision that gamers aren’t going to approve of? Surely not!
Now, the huge and mighty corporation that is Electronic Arts has a bit of a reputation in the industry, doesn’t it? It’s not as though they’re the only cash-hungry big business around (we’ve got more than enough of those to be getting on with, thanks), but these guys seem to have reached a whole new level of nefariousness.
What is it about them, exactly? Is it the fact that they’re constantly and aggressively hawking microtransactions? Or perhaps it was the whole sorry episode where they dragged the Belgian government to court over their right to sell their dastardly loot boxes? It was both of those things, true enough, but there’s another egregious crime they’re guilty of: doing terrible, terrible things to the Star Wars license.
Star Wars: Battlefront II was quite the debacle, wasn’t it? The pay-to-win microtransactions caused such an outcry that even the all-powerful EA were forced to backtrack, later admitting that they’d handled the game poorly and vowing to be better in the future (a slightly humbling baby-step in the right direction).
As it emerges now, though, more unfortunate things are happening in EA’s Star Wars universe. As Kotaku reports, it appears that the big open-world Star Wars title the team had been working on has been cancelled.
According to the report, EA Vancouver (who manage such EA powerhouses as Battlefront and FIFA Soccer) had been developing the title since Visceral Games’ closure in October 2017. This was the mysterious ‘Ragtag’ project, which was being led by Amy Hennig of Uncharted fame.
When EA took the reins, they started to develop the game into a hugely ambitious open world experience. This new take on the project was codenamed Orca and revolved around “playing as a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.”
As great as that sounds, it seems that Orca is no more. At least, for now: “When EA’s top decision-makers looked at their road map for the next few years,” Kotaku states, “they decided that they needed something earlier than the planned release date for Orca, according to two people familiar with what happened. So they cancelled Orca in favor of a smaller-scale Star Wars project that’s now aimed for much sooner—likely, late 2020.”
In short, there go our hopes of getting our hands on a sort of Star Wars/No Man’s Sky hybrid dialled up to about 100,000. There is the possibility of the project perhaps resurfacing after this smaller-scale Star Wars experience arrives, though. By then, we’re likely to be delving into next-gen territory, which is an exciting prospect in and of itself.
Finally, what did EA themselves have to say in response to all of this? Here’s the official statement:
“There’s been speculation overnight about one of our Star Wars projects. 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.”