EA's Visceral Studios In Melbourne Rumoured To Close On Monday

A source from EA's Visceral Studios in Melbourne has told Kotaku Australia that management has informed staff that the studio will be closing on Monday.

According to the source, who prefers to remain anonymous, Visceral Games had been working on a AAA game for the Xbox 360 and PS3 for the past three years until new management pulled the plug on the project and the studio. The source says that Patrick Soderland from Dice, who is now the vice president of EA's Games Label, decided that the game would not be profitable and decided to can the project and the studio.

It is believed that EA's other Australian studios, Firemint and Iron Monkey, are not affected by the closure.

EA Visceral Melbourne is responsible for working on and producing Dead Space, Godfather 2, and Dante's Inferno.

If you're from Visceral Games and want to get in touch with us to share your story, you can do so here.


Comments

    3 years of development and it wont be a profitable game?

      Well, if it is going to cost more to complete and market the game than the projected return, then it doesn't matter how long it had been in development. It would be a choice between making a large loss (completing the game) and making a smaller loss (stopping the project).

        Not to mention that as a publicly traded company.

        EA canning a project goes down much better than Game coming out and being seen as a complete bomb by everyone.

    Sigh.

    What's the point of overseas studios lauding their Australian arms if they panic and pull the plug?

    Is the closure of some of Australia's best game development studios a good enough reason to riot?

      It's starting to get ridiculous with a lot of development companies being let down by their publishers...I say it's time to riot. It seems to be what they expect of us anyway =/

      PS. US, which country is doing well in this GFC eh? Couldn't possibly be the country that is getting all it's studio's closed down now can it?

        Or, start self publishing.

          Easier said than done. Self publishing is risky and expensive.

            Risky yes, expensive - not so much.

            And frankly yes - Australian studios should self publish. (Direct Sales) Digital download makes this more than possible.

              It's true, self-publishing is a great way to go for those who can.

              Look at the majority of developers in Australia, most of them self-publish to App Store or PC and they aren't being closed down at all.

                Most? Really? I'd be interested to see the facts to back that up, because that's definitely not the impression I have of the industry in Australia.

                It's a sad day in hell when all that's left are App Store developers

        "PS. US, which country is doing well in this GFC eh? Couldn’t possibly be the country that is getting all it’s studio’s closed down now can it?"

        The same country that currently is above the US dollar in currency. It's more expensive now to develop games in Aus if you are subcontracting from the US.

        And while it is only a couple of cents it makes a bigger difference when dealing with millions of dollars.

          I personally think it is more to do with the fact that they were willing to invest here because the dollar was low.

          Now that we are above parity, they want to bail out because they can no long us Australia as a means of economising.

          I have always said in the past that the Australian market is often used as a means to recoup costs and this behaviour of US businesses closing Australian studios is bordering on confirming me.

        That's half the problem though, we're doing well to the point it's costing them a lot more money to keep our stuff running. They have to protect themselves from financial ruin, cut their losses and stay where they were from.

    Ah man is this depressing for the games industry here. Australia in so many ways is falling further and further behind from north america, europe and east asia in gaming.

      Exactly. It kills me to see yet another studio in Aus has closed its doors. Not only is game retail suffering due to exorbitent prices and being outdated in terms of approach/attack, but so is development/creation within the country.
      It's heartbreaking as someone who's currently working at an indie studio to know that bigger, better job oportunities within the country are slowly dying out. It's like, stay indie (which has it's own issues) or gtfo. If I want to go for my dream, I'm going to have to go overseas, which is something I knew I'd probably have to do to get involved in big titles, but at least we had a few smaller contenders close to home.
      Ridiculous.

      Exactly. It kills me to see yet another studio in Aus has closed its doors. Not only is game retail suffering due to exorbitent prices and being outdated in terms of approach/attack, but so is development/creation within the country.
      It's heartbreaking as someone who's currently working at an indie studio to know that bigger, better job oportunities within the country are slowly dying out. It's like, stay indie (which has it's own issues) or gtfo. If I want to go for my dream, I'm going to have to go overseas, which is something I knew I'd probably have to do to get involved in big titles, but at least we had a few smaller contenders close to home.
      Ridiculous. Things needs to change. And soon.

        I seriously question how intelligent you are if you have a dream of working on a "big title". A big production budget does not make a good game, or a good experience, or even good working conditions.

        I worked at EA in Mountain View for a couple of years and it was grueling shit. I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy. Right now I have a nice cruizy job in Australia running software development for a major bank, but if I had my druthers I would gladly get back in to game making... just NEVER on a big title.

        It's better to make a small title that goes big, not only will you have more fun, but you'll actually accomplish something instead of relying on marketing and distribution deals to push flashy mediocre crap.

        /yes, still bitter about it 10 years later.

          Big bank eh? Does that mean we might see some cool gamification coming to our financial apps soon?

            Last time I worked in a bank (only 7 years ago) half their databases/programs were running in DOS - you've got your work cut out for you!

              Yeah, but the grind you have to do for the Achievement "One Million Dollars deposited" is a real pain.

      Agreed mobo. The game industry here was booming and now it seems to only be going down :( I feel sorry for the people who trained to get into the industry and who are in training to get in...

    Aus Dev's studios who sell out to big American publishers are going to be shut down. It's just a matter of when. For the rest, if they can't get work for hire or manage to create a semi successful IP, they are gone too.

    They days of Aus being the cheap place to make a game are well over.

    Sigh, so another one bites the dust.

    You're next Firemint... Should've never signed with EA. 'Cos you know... your games aren't profitable. <_<

      Firemint's fine. EA are focusing more on mobile games, which is probably another reason they closed this studio.

        Every time i hear of EA or any other big company buying up a smaller studio here in Aus i just can't help feel a little less optimistic about how serious these smaller company's are.

        The trend has been for some time now, Big company from USA buys smaller game company in AUS, company turns out to not be worth keeping open and company is shut down.

        This will happen to Firemint, i have know doubt.

        Bottom line is AUS game company's, please stop selling you A$$ to US company's that clearly don't give a rats about Australian jobs.

          This isn't an Aus vs. US thing. EA are dumping an unprofitable studio. A very small studio of 10-15 people. Makes sense.

          Firemint were bought by EA when the US dollar was at its weakest, and their success is very clearly continuing (still beating Angry Birds on the US charts!).

        I'm pleading ignorance here - apart from Flight Control, what dlo Firemint do?

          Check the US App Store charts. Firemint are in the #1 spot with there new game, and have been for a few weeks.

          Also the Real Racing games have been iOS highlights for the past few years.

    Blame the high australian dollar. Blame the consumers for depending top tier graphics or gtfo causing massive spike in development costs which in turns created massive risk and resulted in studio closes and if they didn't close they produced a game with far less content then yester years. Blame the end of the 2 tier or AA titles which Australia was the one spot shop for all these licences property games where you can get it bad for dirt cheap.

    Well we have 2K Marin Canberra arm which if X-COM doesn't sell too well, then its goodbye to them. And what about Sega Studios Australia who's working on the Olympics 2012 game(which is supposedly looking to be the best olympics game ever), that title there is risky unsequelisable property which means doesn't sell then its game over for them.

    Its not looking too good for the last remaining big studios in Australia, but then again our independent/mobile scene isn't doing so bad and hopefully from the ashes of the studios that have been burned rise a new string of studios and prosperity for games development.

    EA's loss. As I've stated after a similar article, with this much talent floating around. New studios are bound to coalesce into existence.

      Thus far the Australian gaming industry has seen the following game studios close or massively scale back in recent memory:

      Auran
      Krome
      THQ / Blue Tongue
      Team Bondi (and LA Noire sold 4m+ units)
      Pandemic
      InterZone

      As pointed out, the more recent studio closures are heavily driven by the high value of the AU$ - between Team Bondi opening and closing, the AU$ went up by a bit under 40% in value against the US$.

      Until that AU$ goes down, the big US publishers aren't going to be making huge investments in the Australian gaming industry, which means all that talent out there would need to rely on their credit cards to fund their games development and risk releasing an iApp that doesn't recover its budget.

      Or they can take that reliably paying bank job. Which do you think they'll do?

    Wow. Just wow...

    And this is why Online Passes need to exist.

      Wow, I can't believe you said that. There is no way online passes are the saving grace of anything. It's nothing more than another way to rip of consumers so the shareholders can make more dirty money.

    Dante's Inferno...

    No great loss here.

      Apart from people's livelihood, you ignorant jerk.

        If they're competent developers, they'll find a job elsewhere.

          Yeah, there's plenty of other studios in the area. Oh wait, they're gone too.

          Even if that weren't the case, it doesn't make it alright. The burnout rate among dev staff in Australia is phenomenal.

      Believe it or not I loved Dante's Inferno, I am a hack and slasher gamer and this was one of the best in the genre. Akin to god of war, freaking rocked !!

      You can have your opinion, but I loved dante's inferno

    It must feel fantastic to be a studio owned by EA or Activision that doesn't make games with "Battlefield" or "Call of Duty" right now.

    What the hell man!? At least release the thing and give them a shot...

    'New Management' is a terrible thing. The only thing close to it is 'Old Management'...

    Well either way I'm still going to find my way into the industry. David Jaffe made a good point a PAX, just do what your passionate about, don't worry about the prospects, just do what you feel you need to do.

      What field are you in?

        I'll be doing a general design course soon along with some media minor.

        That is my view as well.

      Same story here, I'm still going to go in the industry no matter what.

    People seem to be forgetting that making games costs big bucks. Studios go to Publishers to get the capital they need to begin building a game. Very few studios would be in a position to fund development on their own.

    Yes, Publishers are evil, but unfortunately for the most part, they are a necessary evil (as long as you want AAA games that is).

    Canned games should be released as they are, as long as there is no intention of actually ever finishing it.

    Modders and the rest of the community could get their teeth dirty and finish some shit!

    Too bad for proprietary code and engine tech... They'd rather waste three years completely than give it a way.

    Kind of like all the chicken at KFC at the end of the night... They're not allowed to give it away; not even to homeless people. Instead, perfectly good (albeit cancerous) food goes straight into the bin.

    Money is a beast that would rather waste than give away for free.

    Serious?? I loved Dantes Inferno (Still cut there is no PC version, f'ing 360 dying!) and Dead Space is one of the FEW true triple monitor gaming experiences you have to behold! I still remember watching my mate push himself away from the computer when he was smashing some necros and he saw a hatch blow on the far corner monitor with more coming his way, freaked him out! hehe

    This team has done some great work, why close them down after such tremendous efforts? They should have been showing more forethought and canceled the project earlier or aligned them up with another game to produce..

    /sigh, Guess that Dantes Inferno PC option is even further out the window..

    Is Australia just really unable to support AAA studios? We seem to be doing alright on the indie front, but we keep seeing these Aussie offshoots of the majors being 'put to sleep'.

    What an absolute shame. I feel sorry for those guys over at Visceral. Best of luck for another job.

    I have no doubt that those affected will find work. Aussies are a very clever bunch, and the closing should inspire people to start their own projects/studios, or go beyond games itself into other technologies, like this http://www.thevine.com.au/tech/news/hologram-in-the-back-seat20110918.aspx
    Pretty amazing.

    I believe pure 'games studios' will not exist anyway in years to come, but more 'interactive studios'.

    WTF!?!
    Why they do that? We should kick there butts!

    I used to be in the industry. Then there was that GFC thing. I got out before it all went belly-up here.

    Now I'm a Postman and I'm much happier! Just a cautionary tale to all those desperate to get into the industry. Be prepared to not enjoy PLAYING games anymore. Not saying it happens to everyone, but it happens a lot.

    Work / Play separation ftw.

    Ex-Pandemic here. EA dropped us like a pain in the ass and honestly it wasn't unjust. The ones that worked on Mercs 2 and Saboteur with me LOVED what we did, we had the best intentions and the best hopes. Mercs got critically hammered and the latter fared better but sold like crap.

    The whole passion fuelled ideology I used to have when I got into this bizz got killed but now it just twisted in its grave seeing Visceral going out. I'm sure they did it for a good reason but all that talent going out in a overflowed sea of unemployed well trained game devs, especially knowing these guys made Dead Space and whatnot.

    My colleagues had hope wed find work closer to home but I really didnt see any of their good faith, so currently I'm living in Denmark(temp hopefully) attempting to find a more European laid position like maybe DICE or a Polish dev... Who knows, right.

    Sorry for dropping the tl/dr here but just figured Id give my 2 cents.

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