EA Killed the Greatest Star Wars Game EVER... Because of PUBG

Star Wars' Project Ragtag looked to be the next great Star Wars title, but it was stopped dead in its tracks by the battle royale genre.

EA Killed the Greatest Star Wars Game EVER... Because of PUBG

After the poor reception of Battlefront II and the critical praise of Jedi: Fallen Order, all eyes are on EA for the next big Star Wars property. However, they may well have already had that under the belt from developer Visceral Games and let it slip through their fingertips.

Not a lot is known about the infamous Project Ragtag, a third-person Star Wars adventure from the now-defunct team behind Dead Space. Two former Visceral Games developers, Zach Mumbach and Ben Wander, recently appeared on the MinnMaxShow to reveal that Ragtag was cut because of another popular genre -- battle royale.

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Project Ragtag endured a four-year development cycle before it was cancelled by EA Games in 2017. The project was looking to be a true masterpiece of gaming, with the award-winning team behind Army of Two and Dead Space developing the title and Uncharted creator Amy Hennig directing.

Still, Ragtag was coming out at a tumultuous time for EA Games, and gaming in general. After acquiring the Star Wars license, EA quickly released Star Wars: Battlefront in 2015, which proved an unexpected success to fans rabid for another entry in the online PVP series.

At the same time, the Battle Royale genre was coming to the forefront, spearheaded by Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, something the industry as a whole and EA were taking note of. Battle Royale blew up in a huge way and has since become a mainstay franchise, with many titles adding Battle Royale modes as multiplayer options.

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Wanting to capitalize on the Battle Royale and Games as a Service model, EA started looking at shifting their development teams around. EA began poaching talent from Visceral’s team and re-assigning them to rush out Star Wars: Battlefront II, believing fans weren’t interested in a game like Project Ragtag, which was already long in development and not nearing completion.

“I think even the company saw that you guys are eventually going to make a crazy good game.” Zach Mumbach told Ben Hanson, host of MinnMaxShow, “I think that at the time when we got shut down, Patrick Sutherland kept talking about [PUBG] and these new experiences, the future experiences. They even sent a press release saying no one cares about single player anymore. They just didn’t feel like there was a ceiling on the single-player experience.”

Mumbach stressed that Project Ragtag just wasn’t what EA wanted at the time. EA was looking for something more akin to a Battle Royale or the Games as a Service model, something with more robust DLC offerings that they could market for years to come. Project Ragtag, by comparison, was intended to be the type of title Visceral was known for -- a tightly scripted, well-crafted single-player action-adventure title in the vein of Dead Space or Army of Two. Mumbach stated the goal for Ragtag was a roughly 12-hour story mode with a definitive conclusion, and that was it.

Visceral continued working on Ragtag until the fall of 2017 when EA shuttered the company after not being satisfied with a demo. Around this time, the Star Wars property was undergoing troubles after the rocky release of Battlefront II, which was publicly slammed for a heavy focus on microtransactions and pay-to-win mechanics. Since then, EA has somewhat course-corrected with the release of Jedi: Fallen Order, a single-player experience that was praised for its tight storytelling and controls.

Still, one can’t help but wonder just how good Project Ragtag could have been, though Mumbach is confident in the quality of the game, saying, “I think we would have made the best Star Wars game ever made. And that’s not knocking any other Star Wars game. The story, the setup, the characters, it was set up for success. It was just going to take a while.”