Criterion Games finally broke a two-year silence at E3 last week, but not in the way we expected.
At the 2014 iteration of the industry’s biggest event studio General Manager Matt Webster revealed an early look at an incredibly ambitious multi-vehicle racing game at publisher EA’s press conference. It looked amazing, and Webster even teased that the game was “the best Oculus game you’ve ever played” to Videogamer, suggesting that this would be EA’s first true fully VR project. We expected to see more of it at this year’s show, but sadly a week on and we’ve found out that it’s instead been cancelled.
A statement from EA confirmed as much to Eurogamer. It reads: “While Criterion has moved on from the previous project they’ve spoken about and aren’t pursuing it specifically, they are continuing to build new ideas and experiment with new IP for EA.”
Along with this, the UK-based studio has been added to EA’s burgeoning list of developers working on the Star Wars franchise, which the publisher has exclusive rights to under a deal with Disney. Part of that work does at least include some VR; Criterion is developing the Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing Mission that is coming exclusively to PlayStation VR later this year. It’s designed to be a short piece in which players will be able to feel like they’re really sitting in the cockpit of the iconic ship. It’s not considered to be a full game, however.
Even if Criterion is sticking with the tech that’s a big loss for VR and the games industry in general. If development had continued we might have seen an EA that was far more committed to VR at this early stage than it is right now. Instead, this year’s press conference from the company didn’t even mention the tech, and we only saw a fleeting glimpse of a PlayStation VR headset in a montage video. Criterion is now also helping to develop other Star Wars projects, such as contributing to last year’s Star Wars: Battlefront with the speeder bike vehicle.
It’s not the first cancellation VR has suffered; earlier this year anticipated horror title Allison Road was also canned.
Still, there’s hope that we see a more fleshed out VR Star Wars game following X-Wing Mission‘s release. It’s our only hope, in fact.