Electronic Arts cancels ‘Gaia’ game after years in development


Gaia’s cancellation is part of a recent resource shift by EA as it evaluates projects and decides which ones will move forward. — AFP

Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc has cancelled a game that was in development at its Montreal office for nearly six years, according to people familiar with the matter.

The game, codenamed Gaia, was first hinted at in 2015, but was never officially announced or given a title. Since then, EA executives have released a drip feed of information, sharing tidbits every few years on what it described as a brand new franchise.

Last summer in a video showcasing future games, EA provided a few seconds of footage from Gaia, describing it as “a highly ambitious, innovative new game that puts the power and creativity in your hands”.

The cancellation is part of a recent resource shift by the company as it evaluates projects and decides which ones will move forward. Earlier this month, the publisher reviewed in-progress games including Gaia and a new iteration of the poorly received online game Anthem, which was also cancelled. Gaia’s development was turbulent and the game went through at least one major reboot, which may have been a factor behind its demise, according to the people, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorised to talk to the press.

Asked for comment, EA spokesman John Reseburg said, “We have a deep and robust pipeline of new content with more than 35 new games in various levels of incubation and development.”

Gaia was teased in 2015 when EA hired veteran video game industry executive Jade Raymond to start a new studio called Motive in Montreal. Raymond, best known for overseeing the Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs series while at Ubisoft Entertainment SA, joined EA to make similar open-world, action-adventure games, starting with Gaia.

In the years that followed, Motive went through some growing pains. The studio absorbed staff from fellow EA-owned studio BioWare’s Montreal office, which was shuttered in 2017 after the poorly received role-playing game Mass Effect Andromeda. A team at Motive was also assigned to work on the action game Star Wars Battlefront II, which also came out in 2017.

By the beginning of 2018, the Gaia team had absorbed the creative leads from Star Wars Battlefront II and faced cultural clashes as a result. The tension culminated with the game’s top directors departing for Ubisoft, which also has a large office in Montreal. Gaia was then rebooted, the people said. Raymond left EA in the fall of 2018.

Motive will remain intact. The studio has found success with a smaller project in Star Wars Squadrons, a fighter ship simulator that came out last fall, and has continued to help with other games across EA. – Bloomberg

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