Electronic Arts has ended the Project Cars franchise, leaving the series with just three episodes.
Project Cars from Slightly Mad Studios was released in 2015. A sequel came two years later, and the third was too arcade-y after the previous two instalments in 2020 and wasn’t well received. In the meantime, the studio was acquired by Codemasters, which in turn was bought by Electronic Arts. The studio tweeted in August that Project Cars 2 had been removed from digital stores from September 21 and the first part from October 3 due to the expiry of licences. It was already a foreshadowing of what was to come…
In 2019, when Codemasters acquired Slightly Mad Studios, they had 150 employees. With the cancellation of Project Cars (as Electronic Arts decided to “stop further development and investment”), they can move into appropriate positions and positions wherever they have the opportunity. Now they can develop FIFA, Need For Speed or Battlefield 2012. Here’s the statement from an Electronic Arts spokesperson, as distributed to Gamesindustry:
“Following an evaluation of the next Project CARS title and its longer-term growth potential, we have decided to stop further development and investment for the franchise. Decisions like these are very hard, but allow us to prioritize our focus in areas where we have the strongest opportunity to create experiences that fans will love. We are focusing on our strengths in our racing portfolio, particularly licensed IP and open-world experiences, and expanding our franchises to be more socially led with long-term live services that will engage global communities. We are working with everyone impacted by this decision to place them into suitable roles across our EA Sports and racing portfolio, as well as other parts of EA, wherever we can. Our priority is to provide as much support as possible to our people through this transition.”
Ian Bell, founder and former CEO of Slightly Mad, responded. The studio was founded in 2009 and produced Need For Speed: Shift, followed two years later by Shift 2: Unleashed. He left the team in October last year as he felt the studio’s future was secure and was the right time to go. He reacted to the news on Twitter, saying: “Electronic Aarts, keeping on being awesome. I said my bit, and I stand by every word as they continue to prove them. How are those numbers (sorry, I mean people with hopes, dreams and families) looking at the bottom of those spreadsheets?” He meant that profit is all that matters to the publisher.
In 2017, in a YouTube interview, he revealed that his bad relationship with Electronic Arts is a long story: “We had made a game called Need for Speed: Shift, we had made a game called Shift 2, and EA came to me and said, two months into Shift 2, can we give you 1.5 million if you agree not to talk to any other publishers, to agree on any other games, or work on any other arrangement with any other publisher, and we’ll give you 1.5 million, and we’ll sign Shift 3? So, I said OK, that sounds like a good deal. I took the 1.5 million, paid the guys loads of bonuses, and they cancelled it two weeks before we were due to start Shift 3 with no warning. They said, ‘we are not doing that anymore’. They sent emails to three, four, five of our key people. And two of them left because we were in trouble. We had nothing left. We were done. They destroyed our company. They tried to kill us. They tried to steal our technology as well.”
He singled out Patrick Söderlund, former head of Electronic Arts’ international studio network. He said he was “the worst corporate monster”: “They tried to f__k us over, there’s no other way to put it. That’s what they tried to do. They tried to destroy us; we do not love Electronic Arts in this company. So yes, I remortgaged my home, put the cash on the line, put it into the company, paid the staff for three more months, made some games, and scraped by. Those guys are arseholes. We have no respect for Electronic Arts. I’ll never deal with them again. No respect for them. They’re horrible human beings. They’re corporate monsters.” Bell added.
And he said it five years ago when he was independent…