Electronic Arts is famous for cancelling games before they see the light of day, including potentially great Star Wars games like Project Ragtag.
Electronic Arts won the license to make Star Wars video games years ago, and ever since, it’s pretty much been a disaster. To start, there’s the general dearth of Star Wars games, which are always in demand, not to mention the blow-up over predatory loot boxes that surrounded the release of Star Wars Battlefront II in 2017.
Another dubious notch in EA’s belt Came when they cancelled a single-player Star Wars game from Visceral Games, the studio behind titles like Dead Space, that had Uncharted writer Amy Hennig as a creative lead.
The game was known as Project Ragtag. Speaking on the MinnMaxShow, producer Zach Mumbach remembered what went wrong, recalling out-of-touch managers who had Visceral make a multiplayer game even though they specialized in single-player experiences, and then ordered them to pivot back to the single-player ragtag after everyone who was good at that kind of thing had left the company. “Who’s making this plan? There is no plan, obviously,” Mumbach said.
“We had this leadership team come in from Vancouver,” he continued. “They were like ‘we need to ship this thing, let’s go, cut this, cut this, cut this.’ And I’m thinking, ‘this is effing Amy Hennig, we have the chance to make the greatest Star Wars game ever made and a possible Game of the Year contender.'”
I think we would have made the best Star Wars game ever made. The story and the setup and the characters… [were] set up for success but what we had to execute was going to take a while. I think the company saw that – ‘hey you guys are eventually going to make a crazy good game’. At the time, when we got shut down, [EA exec] Patrick Soderlund was even like – what’s the game with ‘Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner’? PUBG? – they even sent out a press release that was like ‘no one cares about single-player any more’.
EA is famous for short-sighted decision-making. Although they cancelled Project Ragtag after convincing themselves that single-player games were a thing of the past, they later had great success with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a single-player game that released last year.
But it was too late for Project Ragtag, which was a ways along when EA pulled the plug. “We just had a lot of gameplay people never got to see,” Mumbach said. “We had levels, they weren’t done but they were close. We had one set-piece which was basically done – we were putting the final touches on it right when the studio was shut down. [It was] this crazy AT-ST moment which was really cool. You were on foot running from it and it was trying to hunt you down but you were more agile, slipping through these alleyways, barelling through and crashing and using all the destruction of Frostbite… You would have been like ‘oh that’s like Star Wars Uncharted’.”
There but for the grace of bone-headed management decisions goes the Star Wars fandom.