EA and Respawn finally announced its upcoming Star Wars game, Jedi: Fallen Order. And to much surprise, EA is proudly billing the new game as having no microtransactions, no loot boxes, and no multiplayer. It's a new direction for sure, especially since the company once canceled a Star Wars game for being just that.
Former Naughty Dog director Amy Hennig has offered her reactions to EA and Respawn's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order announcement. Speaking with Eurogamer, Hennig expressed some surprise at the reveal, especially since she once worked on a Star Wars game for EA codenamed Project Ragtag that was also expected to be a narrative-driven, single player affair.
"[It's] odd!" Hennig said at the Reboot Develop conference in Dubrovnik. "I have to be candid with you. I mean, it's coming from the EA Star Wars Twitter handle, so it's certainly part of the plan, but I don't know whether it's implicitly referencing previous comments they made after our project was killed?"
After EA announced Project Ragtag was canceled and Visceral was to close, former EA vice president Patrick Söderlund wrote a blog that seemed to suggest the story-based, linear approach for Project Ragtag worked against EA's desire to make longer-lasting, live-service games.
Hennig said Respawn may have benefited from being a project that was in-development before Respawn was acquired by EA, as well as Respawn founder Vince Zampella's seta on the EA executive team where "he can protect the interests of Respawn."
"This is all speculation on my part, I don't know why the change of heart happened, because that was very clearly not an acceptable plan when we were working on Ragtag! But you know, things change. [The decision to cancel Ragtag] was made in summer 2017. We found out in October 2017. So that's almost two years ago, and a lot has changed in that time, and there's been a pretty public and vocal backlash against the idea gamers don't want single-player finite games without all these extra modes."
Hennig also said that EA has changed a lot in those years, with both Söderlund and Jade Raymond departing the company. "I'm glad for Respawn's sake, because I'm excited about their game, and I've heard great things about it."
It does sound like EA's position on a single-player Star Wars game has certainly changed in the past couple years. Not only because of the surprise news that Jedi: Fallen Order is single-player only, but because prior to that EA's only Star Wars games have been online multiplayer affairs with Battlefront 1 and 2. What this means for future EA titles is unclear, however, as Anthem and the rumored Dragon Age will continue with the live-service route.
We had a chance to speak with Hennig at this year's DICE Conference, where she talked more about the development of Project Ragtag, including complications with EA's favored Frostbite Engine. You can also read more about Ragtag with her chat with Eurogamer.