Electronic Arts just held an earnings call for its second fiscal quarter (which ended on September 30) and the focus was squarely on online “live service” games like Madden and FIFA Ultimate Team and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II. That’s not surprising, as these type of games now drive nearly two-thirds of the publisher’s revenue.
EA’s net revenue for the past quarter was $959 million, up from $898 million a year ago, and, most crucially, $579 million of that came from digital sales. The biggest contributor to that $579 million of digital revenue were ongoing, microtransaction-driven live services like FIFA and Madden Ultimate Team, The Sims 4, and Battlefield 1, which brought in $310 million total. By comparison, sales of traditional packaged games only made EA $119 million this past quarter. So, if you’re wondering why EA chose to turn their back on Visceral Games’ single-player-focused Star Wars adventure, well, now you know.
Speaking of which, during the earnings call EA CEO Andrew Wilson briefly touched on the closure of Visceral Games. For the most part, Wilson reiterated previous statements, saying Visceral’s Star Wars project wasn’t canned for being single-player, but because a pivot was needed to “deliver the experience players demanded.” Interestingly, Wilson did mention EA higher ups were “very happy with the assets and content” created for Visceral’s game, and indicated they’ll likely be reused for the new Star Wars project being developed at EA Vancouver.
Wilson’s comments seem to confirm EA Vancouver’s Star Wars game will be a continuation and reworking on Visceral’s project rather than an all-new concept. Here’s a reminder of what the Visceral Star Wars project, codenamed Ragtag, was all about:
“Ragtag was set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and was to be a sort of ‘Star Wars Ocean’s Eleven,’ featuring a cast of charming space criminals. The main character was Dodger, a dark version of Han Solo, and he was to be backed by a variety of colorful teammates, each with their own AI and play styles.”
If Visceral Star Wars assets and ideas are going to live on, does that mean former Uncharted creative director Amy Hennig will also be moving onto EA Vancouver to continue the project? It will certainly be interesting to see how this game shapes up.