We're hearing numerous reports via Twitter and other sources that Visceral Games in Melbourne are closing down. First noted via Screenplay's tweet, and followed up via further Twitter correspondences from @IGDAMelbourne...
Visceral Games Melbourne studio has closed its doors according to a Screen Play poster. #morebadnewsforozgamesindustry
Just got another message that @VisceralGames Melbourne studio closing on Monday. Seems legitimate.
@screenplayblog I'm hearing Visceral are meeting on Monday with HR whether it's closure then or some redundancies first remains to be seen
Visceral Games in Melbourne had a hand in developing Dead Space, Godfather 2, and Dante's Inferno. A job ad describes the EA owned studio as "currently working on the critically acclaimed Dead Space franchise, an unannounced AAA title based on new intellectual property and core tools used throughout EA."
And unnamed source has confirmed to Kotaku AU that the studio was working on a AAA title game for the Xbox 360 and PS3 for the last three years, however it was deemed unprofitable by vice president of EA's Games Label, Patrick Soderland (also from Dice). Soderland has therefore decided to pull the plug on the studio and the game.
The other two EA studios are still going. You know, the successful/profitable ones.
Last I heard Visceral Melbourne only had a staff of around 10, so this isn't as huge a blow as some people might initially think. Sad for those 10 or so people though, I wish them the best.
To be my usual optimistic self, I have grave concerns for SEGA. A name change, removal of all old 'assignments' and a focus on a one-off project bring to mind the term 'project office'. An HR Executive once said to me that if all your old responsibilities are removed and you're put on a once-off special project, it's time to start polishing your resume. That said, if anyone from SEGA would like to assuage these doubts I would certainly appreciate it.
On the subject at hand, I hope the rumours of Visceral's death prove to be exaggerated. Further job losses and, equally as important, fewer opportunities for job growth are not what we need right now.
With almost no exceptions, SSA has been a single studio setup. They helped on Rome, then did Med 2, Kingdoms and Stormrise by themselves. They also popped out a Sonic port. At no point has it had more than one full game in production at any one time. Their "assignments" didn't get removed, Total War was never theirs (it was the UK Studio's baby, and was probably loaned to CA Oz to allow CA UK to get Empire and Viking out the door) and there was no way in hell Stormrise II was ever going to get greenlit.
The name change is probably because Creative Assembly is associated with Total War which SSA has nothing at all to do with now. Also pretty much everyone involved with the old CA Oz has since left. I'd be surprised if any of the current leads or management team were in the same position for Stormrise, let alone Total War.
That doesn't mean I think they'll survive past their current project, just that the reasons you mentioned aren't valid cause for concern.
I never meant to imply SSA was ever [focusing] on more than one project at a time. With the exception of the Sonic port, however, they've consistently been working on AAA first-party I.P., most significantly the Total War series of course. After Stormrise you see a lot of internal change, a renaming and a sports game. A significant sports game, perhaps, but one with an obvious and looming expiration date. Obviously SSA isn't an engineering or accounting firm, but I feel the changes we see are a close analogue for the situation I described.
I have second-hand assurances from SSA employees that there's a second project in the works, but these aren't too convincing.