EA cancels ‘Gaia’ game after years in development

EA cancels ‘Gaia’ game after years in development

Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. canceled 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 posted a trickle-down flow of information, sharing information every few years on what it described as a new franchise.

Last summer, in a video showing future games, EA provided a few seconds of footage of Gaia, describing it as “a very ambitious and innovative new game that puts 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 go ahead. Earlier this month, the publisher reviewed games in progress, including Gaia, and a badly received remake of the online game Anthem, which was also canceled. Gaia’s development was turbulent and the game went through at least one major reboot, which may have been a factor behind its disappearance, according to the people, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press.

When asked for comment, EA spokesman John Reseburg said: “We have a strong and deep portfolio of new content with over 35 new games at various levels of incubation and development.”

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Gaia was teased in 2015 when EA hired veteran gaming 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, teamed up with EA to create similar open-world action-adventure games, beginning with Gaia.

In the following years, Motive went through some growing pains. The studio absorbed staff from the Montreal office of BioWare, the studio owned by EA, which closed 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 early 2018, Gaia’s team had absorbed the creative cues from Star Wars Battlefront II, and faced culture clashes as a result. The tension culminated with the departure of the main directors of the game to Ubisoft, which also has a large office in Montreal. Then Gaia was rebooted, the people said. Raymond left EA in the fall of 2018.

The motif will remain intact. The studio has had success with a smaller project on Star Wars Squadrons, a battleship simulator that came out last fall, and has continued to help with other games at EA.


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