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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Electronic Arts kills one of the best racing series of all time

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Electronic Arts has confirmed that it is halting development of the Project Cars racing series, telling GamesIndustry that after evaluating the next game in the series and its long-term future, “we have made the decision 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 believe we have the strongest opportunity to create experiences that fans will love,” EA said. “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.”

It’s been quite a ride for the Project Cars series, which debuted to acclaim in 2015 with a detailed and demanding racing sim that prioritized hardcore racing over mainstream accessibility. Project Cars 2 in 2017 was even stronger on that front—”serious racing for serious racers,” we said in our 89% review.

But things began to change a couple years later. Codemasters acquired Project Cars developer Slightly Mad Studios in 2019, and then EA acquired Codemasters in 2021; Project Cars 3, meanwhile, abandoned the diehard sim approach of the first two games in favor of something more action focused, and it was fine but failed to gain traction with old fans or bring in many new ones. 

In a series of now-deleted tweets (via GTPlanet), Slightly Mad Studios founder and former Codemasters executive director Ian Bell said “lesson learned” and vowed that Project Cars 4 would be “the most realistic simulation ever made.” Bell departed Codemasters in 2021, and obviously the plan has changed dramatically since then.

EA said that it is working to find other roles at the company for employees impacted by the cancellation of the series. Unfortunately for racing fans, the first two Project Cars games are effectively out of reach: EA delisted Project Cars 2 on September 21, and Project Cars on October 3, so the only way to get them now is through a key reseller or as a physical console edition.

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