There’s nothing next-gen consoles need like next-gen games, and Electronic Arts may already be in the process of taking the Battlefield series in a brand new direction. Of course, as seems to be the case with EA of late, the good news comes only with a side of bad (and we’re not referring to the recent beating the Battlefield name has taken over BF4‘s flawed launch).
As reports claim that a branch studio of EA’s Ghost Games has undergone a wave of layoffs, word has surfaced of the ultimatum presented to full-time employees: either leave with compensation, or stay on to offer support for “a police-themed” Battlefield spinoff presumed to be in development at Visceral Games.
The information comes courtesy of Polygon, as part of their reporting of Ghost Games’ shrinking in size – the development studio was created by a large number of Criterion employees to develop last year’s Need For Speed: Rivals. The announcement once again links the uncertainty of a studio’s future to the Need For Speed brand – the studio has been reported to be taking over development on the franchise, but following the departure of two Criterion founders, the layoffs have put the studio’s next NFS game on hold.
The explanation that those remaining in the English studio will be put to work on a “police-themed Battlefield title” being developed at Visceral answers several questions (while raising several others). This report follows speculation from industry analyst Micheal Pachter who previously claimed that EA was looking to annualize the Battlefield series by handing development to Criterion, while internet sleuths named Visceral Games as the likely culprit.
The studio is most well known for its work on the Dead Space series, and are currently working on an unannounced Star Wars project as well. However, the past few months have seen the team add a former Halo 4 designer and it remains unclear if the hiring was meant to bolster the team behind the Star Wars game, or another.
Unfortunately, Polygon doesn’t offer any explicit source for their claim that Visceral is absolutely the studio tapped to release a Battlefield spinoff this November, or where the notion of it being “police-themed” originates either. No further details are offered on exactly how the game will differ from Battlefield proper, but the premise alone is intriguing.
Fans of stand-up arcade shooters will be all too familiar with just how quickly police-themed games in general passed from the market, with games like Silent Scope or Virtua Cop putting players into the role of a police officer attempting to contain urban warfare. It’s hard to say if taking the warfare of Battlefield into a city setting is what’s in store – or a wise move at all – but one thing is clear: Visceral has some free time.
Besides the Star Wars game which is proceeding at a rate few can accurately predict, the lack of any announcements seems to confirm that development on the Dead Space series is paused. The studio hasn’t ruled out another installment, but if they wish to put their creativity into a police title, we’re eager to see what they’re up to.
What do you think of this report? Are you concerned about any attempt to annualize the Battlefield series, or if EA is deadset on doing just that, are you happy to hear they’re taking the series in a new direction? Sound off in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.