EA shelves one of two Starbreeze projects

Publisher cancels either Project RedLime or Jason Bourne title in development at Swedish studio; layoffs not expected.

Following yet another quarter of steep losses, Electronic Arts said in November that it had shelved more than a dozen games in an effort to focus on products with high profit potential. EA's list of killed-off projects grew this week, as Swedish development house Starbreeze Studios announced that work had ceased on one of the two games it was making with the publisher.

Starbreeze still has at least one project to smile about.

Unfortunately, uncertainty persists as to which of the two projects EA took an axe to. With Starbreeze remaining mum, EA would say only that it "is focusing resources on fewer, bigger titles." The publisher further noted that it is "working with the team at Starbreeze to make a great game."

In February 2008, EA said that it had tapped Starbreeze to "reinvent" one of EA's "most acclaimed classic franchises." Operating under the working title Project RedLime, the project has been rumored to be a reboot of Bullfrog Productions' cyberpunk tactical action game Syndicate. Project RedLime had been slated to arrive for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

The studio's other collaboration with EA involves an adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novels, including rogue operative Jason Bourne. Following Activision's jettisoning of the Bourne license, EA announced a multiyear, worldwide licensing agreement to create games based on the books. Starbreeze's first game to come about from this deal would track the adventures of Bourne, though neither platforms nor a launch window were revealed.

Starbreeze CEO Johan Kristiansson offered no indication as to which project had been canceled, though he did put a positive spin on the week's events. "We will continue to focus only on a big production together with EA," he said. "Our relationship with EA is stronger than ever, and the aim now is to spend more resources on the game that demonstrated the greatest potential. This game is already in full production."

Kristiansson also noted that he does not expect the game's cancellation to necessitate head count reductions at the studio. Starbreeze is perhaps best known for its 2004 critical darling Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. The studio also scored top marks for the 2007 shooter The Darkness.

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Discussion

57 comments
Snaptrap
Snaptrap

Looks like all those years of franchise milking is beginning to backlash. Their ant-piracy antics are just pounding more nails into the problem. I have no sympathy for them even though I own one of their games. They bought and dissolved a few of my favorite developers. This will be a good shake-up for the game industry if EA folded. A good example of how decisions like these can bring down a giant.

redguard117
redguard117

@ Crush_Project : No actually, i'm an orthopedic surgeon. However, i can recognize when a company such as EA attempts to make amends (DAO, ME2, BFBC2, etc. all 3 of which do not have intrusive drm/had it removed) and i seek to support those companies in doing so, even if they have misstepped or made mistakes

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

A Bullfrog revival has been wanted by many of the Bullfrog employees still at EA, but EA management has shown very little interest in reviving it. Given the tie in with Bourne films is a safer bet at making money I would be very surprised if the Bourne game was cancelled. As for layoffs - who are they trying to kid? You cancel 1 of 2 projects at a studio - there will be significant numbers laid off. Though no doubt HR will have other ways of phrasing it - offer positions thousands of miles away in other countries, or leave, making it technically the employees decision to leave, rather than redundancy.

Marineb0i
Marineb0i

You guys do realize that EA didn't develop Dragon Age and Mass Effect. They merely publish it. I'm fine with EA publishing games, but whatever they develop themselves sucks. BF:BC2 was good, but seriously, in SP, half the time your view is blocked by snow/dust clouds.%2

madSomnambulist
madSomnambulist

Jeesh, I didn't know the total number of things shelved was a dozen. I think it's good that they have a focus on 'the big stuff' so they can stop hemorrhaging money, but they're working on borrowed time if they have a scant few new IPs. The Tiger Woods bit this winter-- though I'm not saying sales are going to tank as a result-- should have been a huge red flag to EA as to how fickle society can be and how even a few unforeseen freak events can totally screw up your game plan. What if that franchise's last release had been the very next tuesday?

ASG_
ASG_

I really don't understand the hate for EA, while I do think this news article sucks, EA still makes great games. Or, the developers who work for them.

ParisSun
ParisSun

EA bought up a bunch of companies and will take them down with the ship. Why buy a bunch of companies and then kill all of their projects? EA and Activision will kill hardcore gaming and will eventually kill all of gaming.

abbnormmal
abbnormmal

Probably the Bourne game since the next movie is on the shelf and they made Green Zone instead.

shawn7324
shawn7324

Both the game still in development & the one now shutdown most likely will & would have been excellent highly profitable games. Wonder how many stupid games were kept alive.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

if EA respect PC user, like they did with Battlefield Bad Company 2 & Dragon Age Origins then they will get my blessing & money!! LoL. :D :) :D :). lately Ubisoft starting to act like the old EA!! with their stupid DRM

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

@ andrew_ribbons: Gotta agree with you. I've been fairly impressed with most of the EA titles I've played recently on the PC. Mass Effect, Dragon Age and BF:BC2, while all multi-platform, are all more than respectable PC titles. I won't say EA has my unwavering support, but they're definitely taking steps in the right direction. Focusing more attention on a few titles rather than dividing it on too many seems like a logical plan, despite any collateral damage.

Inconnux
Inconnux

EA is only good at buying AAA developer studios and driving them into the ground... then closing them.

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

"easy way to spot a noob = liking EA". Used to be. They have improved their PC divisions a lot recently however, and so my own hatred towards them has lessened muchly. They still have a lot to work on however.

Hillsy_
Hillsy_

The original Syndicate was one of the best games for the Amiga/PC, the sequel not so much. Interested to see where they take the new one, but I don't have high hopes for it. My gut feeling says fail, but will wait and see to pass judgement.

Sameo
Sameo

the darkness is one of my favorite games ever made, so naturally it sucks nuts that EA has 'creative' control over these people now.

Waldkrieger
Waldkrieger

EA probably can't think of some new scheme to milk it for all its worth or somehow charge people more money. EA is going down the toilet with their schemes. They are just making people hate them. It serves them right.

rock_solid
rock_solid

easy way to spot a noob = liking EA

holypro
holypro

the darknes is a amazing master pice i would love to see what these guys can do whit jason borune relly liked the high moon game

mightycloud
mightycloud

If it's a syndicate game it needs to be better than "Syndicate Wars".

pizzaboyuk
pizzaboyuk

@redguard117 It really doesn't matter what BS we get fed, whether from employees, shareholders or whatever. At the end of the day, its the games that count. Personally I hate all this milking thats going on in the industry, so if companies need to go through a number of highly paid execs before they realise they are selling "entertainment" instead of garbage to dumb*ss consumers, then so be it.

Knutte79
Knutte79

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

sensei_hEnRY
sensei_hEnRY

please EA, let Starbreeze make a Bourne game. Pleeeaaaassssseeeeee....

ssjdagas
ssjdagas

EA just cost me €50 because the Starbreeze stock took a dive. Oh well they'll come back again like they always do.

sandgroper
sandgroper

omg syndicate *gasp* what a great game, I'll cry if it's cancelled.

seacowphil
seacowphil

I hope they don't the Bourne titles

Marineb0i
Marineb0i

@ redguard117 Seriously, how would rushing out another bad game help? Having to "pray" that your game sells well means it's obviously not well-made. Where's the quality control? I'll have to agree with Crush_Project. I've stopped caring for EA products long time ago, and shifted over to Ubisoft and Activision.

LoserMike
LoserMike

I'm guessing they kept the Bourne title.

DrKill09
DrKill09

EA, I want a new Road Rash. And a new Strike game. HEAR ME!!! :P

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

lol red im sry but you sound like you work for EA. What has ea done to revitalize their image? and how can EA return to making quality products when they have virtually never had a good idea of their own? They have always just bought everyone elses ideas and titles and swept them under the carpet if they couldnt produce the titles themselves. Let them burn for all i care. Its just way too little WAY too late. Ive had enough of getting ripped off since the 90's consistently by the company.

redguard117
redguard117

cont 2) For now, it had to focus on shortterm gains to avoid the board from turning it into Activision. So don't hate for right now. Lets help EA get back on its feet, support the president against the shareholders, showing that a Kotick-like stance is unnecessary, and we shall be rewarded. Stockholders and shortsighted analysists will mean the death of this industry soon enough; don't let them ruin another company, one trying to make amends. Thats why, for the moment at least, i can see EA's side of the deal

redguard117
redguard117

cont) These stockholders, naturally, have never played a videogame, have no idea about videogame culture and cynicism, but do understand that Activision succeeds no matter how much hate it gathers from hardcore/educated gamers. Thus, consider this a compromise; the new president of EA, who orchestrated the reformation, was in the process of being fired due to the hemorrhaging of money; in order to satisfy his stockholders, he had to rush out C&C4 and pray for good profits, in hope of saving future titles from the same. As soon as EA enters the green, and its stockholders are satisfied, it should, i hope, return to the values that enabled the resurgence; quality, focused titles, greater variety, innovation, and new ips.

redguard117
redguard117

EA has reformed itself recently, trying to favor quality and new ip's over quantity, rehashed ip's and yearly releases. They have done this, and for the majority succeeded in erasing their "evil corporation" image from the preponderance of the decade. However, this strategy is not nearly as profitable as following an Activision/Kotick rehash formula. Stockholders for EA look at Activisions obscene profits, question why they aren't getting the same, and pressure the ceo and board to do whatever it takes to equal those profits.

firesage423
firesage423

as long as EA's medal of honor knocks activision and MW2 off its high horse ill be happy..

payne6705
payne6705

EA when you start putting more quality in your games again (dead space C+C3) then we will talk. Yet if you continue making games like C+C4 then sadly we must part ways and I see many devs getting fired or just leaving EA all together until they get their act together again.

ekultus
ekultus

Devs need to stop signing contracts with EA, PERIOD!!! Most will sell their soul's these days, pity.

Yams1980
Yams1980

Syndicate... watch EA turn this into some fps junk.

Shardz7
Shardz7

Yep! Here we go with EA whining about not making enough money again. We see this at least every month now? I love this part; "shelved more than a dozen games in an effort to focus on products with high profit potential." Well, they sure as Hell didn't do a very good job with their quickly rushed project, C&C4, did they? Does EA even know what quality is? We all know they understand the phrase "Hurry up already! We needed that done yesterday!", but do they understand that high quality depends not on time limits, but enough creative freedom to create magic? Of course not! That doesn't fit into the Capitalistic model of the gaming industry these days and it's just too bad this is happening in our neck of the woods. EA corporates have their own shoulders to cry on when making these colossal mistakes in treating consumers like blind sheep and trying to pass off high profile game sequels as their usual crappy titles. Stop pressuring developers to rush projects, give them more creative control, stop acting like Hitler and perhaps then you will see "must-own" titles of high quality that consumers will stand in line to purchase. Until then..STOP YOUR CRYING, EA!

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

Sucks to hear that developers are losing work they have been spending a long time on. EA also needs to stop opening studios designed to make games that other studios already make so they can try and put them out of business.

angelito83
angelito83

I hope EA's effort to focus on games with "high profit potential" doesn't mean that they'll lose focus on quality of games. Do we need to remind them how we felt when they focused more on quantity of games over quality of games?

santinegrete
santinegrete

wut? I dont doubt of Starbreeze's people's talent, but I neven heard of this titles before. Wheres the word of The Darkness 2?

gamer082009
gamer082009

I want another Chronicles of Riddick game already. I enjoyed Dark Athena allot..

BlackForestHam
BlackForestHam

I want The darkness 2 damnit! Italian mobsters and demons is the best combo ever!

johnnyjh89
johnnyjh89

I am still waiting for The Darkness 2 . Damn EA is losing alot lately.

wbezuidenhout
wbezuidenhout

Oh please, oh PLEASE let it be Bourne that got axed. Even if there is only a chance for the other title to be a Syndicate remake, I would give it. It was the first game I bought with my own money, and it ruled my life for quite some time after that! :)

BallisstiXXX
BallisstiXXX

Damn, EA is losing something everyday. I just hope Bourne hit the blade, after conspiracy I don't think I want anymore Bourne games. Oh and BTW: I'm still waiting for Darkness 2.