Visceral Studios is closed and with it has gone its single-player focused Star Wars adventure. The game will now pivot toward what seems like a multiplayer focus, probably with some microtransactions thrown in. Gamers are pissed, but EA is standing by the decision. One former EA employee, Gameplay designer for Mass Effect 3 Manveer Heir, had a lot to say about this one the most recent Waypoint podcast, declaring that “the linear single-player AAA game at EA is dead for the time being.”
Discussing some of the things he saw while working on Mass Effect 3 and Andromeda, Heir breaks down what’s been happening to EA and gaming as a whole. Huge single player games are being eclipsed by multiplayer and microtransactions, which make tons of money of relatively few players.
“You need to understand the amount of money that’s at play with microtransactions,” Heir explained. “I’m not allowed to say the number but I can tell you that when Mass Effect 3 multiplayer came out, those card packs we were selling, the amount of money we made just off those card packs was so significant. That’s the reason Dragon Age has multiplayer. That’s the reason other EA products started getting multiplayer that hadn’t really had them before, because we nailed it and brought in a ton of money. It’s repeatable income versus one-time income. I’ve seen people literally spend $15,000 on Mass Effect multiplayer cards.”
Continuing to talk about Bioware, Heir discussed their latest game Anthem. “It’s not a traditional looking BioWare game, right? If that’s what you’re seeing from a place like BioWare, owned by EA, a place where I worked for seven years; if that’s what you’re seeing from Visceral, now closing and going to this other Vancouver studio, what it means is that the linear single-player AAA game at EA is dead for the time being.”
It’s kind of chilling to hear, though it’s important to note that Heir does not speak for Bioware or EA as a whole. This is just his assessment, but it comes from an educated place of experience. Check out the whole podcast for more from Heir, including the fact that Mass Effect Andromeda started life as a prequel.