A little over a year after buying Codemasters, Electronic Arts has made the decision to drop their popular and critically well-received Project CARS franchise – a move that hasn’t gone down well with the original studio’s founder and CEO Ian Bell.
Project CARS was acquired back in 2019 by Codemasters during their push to place themselves at the forefront of driving game development. At the time of the acquisition the studio working on the franchise, Slightly Mad Studios, had a 150-person team.
While the studio and the franchise did have a place in Codemasters’ racing portfolio and was a good fit for the group, it appears that Codemasters’ subsequent acquisition by Electronic Arts in 2021 has given the EA giant one too many over-lapping driving games to keep tabs on.
Upon further evaluation of the franchise and its place within the company, a consensus was made that the title was unlikely to see future success and no longer has it’s own unique place within the studio’s expanded racing portfolio.
Founder and CEO departs
Slightly Mad’s founder and CEO Ian Bell, stepped away from the company just over a week ago stating that it was the right time to leave the company he had founded and stayed with through two acquistions “with the studio’s future now assured”.
It seems that he may have had a glimmer of what was to come with his former company now dissolved behind him. And – from tweets following the EA announcement – it appears that Bell isn’t happy, and he wants us to know it.
“EA, 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 the spreadsheets?”, he wrote yesterday night.
EA, 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 the spreadsheets?
— Ian Bell – Something Unique and massive coming. (@bell_sms) November 8, 2022
“Stop further development and investment for the franchise”
Although it is unclear exactly how the staff will be affected by the news, EA has stated that employees that have been working on Project CARS will be moved into “suitable roles wherever they can”. While this is a sad day for those who have been working on the Project CARS franchise and uncertainty may be ahead, there is at least some safety in knowing EA has an abundance of other projects going on that could use talented game developers.
In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, an EA spokesperson commented saying, “Today we announced internally an update to our racing portfolio. Following an evaluation of the next Project CARS title and its longer-term growth potential, we have made the decision to stop further development and investment for the franchise.
“Decisions like these are very hard, but allow us to prioritise our focus in areas where we believe 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. Games are at the heart of sports and racing entertainment, and with shifting fan expectations, we recognise the need to evolve our games beyond pure play, providing experiences for fans to also watch, create and connect with their friends”.
The spokesperson went on to say that they would be providing support to those affected and intends to guide them through this new transition.
Project CARS was first released back in 2015 and since then has added another two main instalments to the franchise, last year a spin-off mobile title was also released.