EA has cancelled the Project CARS series, it’s been reported today, with internal announcements stating that it has made the decision to “stop further development and investment” in the franchise.
This was further confirmed in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, an EA spokesperson 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.”
Thankfully it doesn’t sound like Slightly Mad Studios itself is under threat, the developer having had a headcount of 150 when it was acquired by Codemasters in 2019, but the efforts to make Project CARS 4 were well underway. Those on that team will be diverted to work on other games through Codemasters and EA’s racing game portfolio “wherever [they] can.”
This is, however, almost exactly what racing game fans feared through EA’s acquisition of Codemasters. Codies’ network of studios had worked on a variety of different games, from the yearly F1 series to both sim and arcade iterations of Dirt, and more experimental games like Onrush. That wasn’t always a recipe for success, but with EA in charge, we’ve seen Codemasters Cheshire be absorbed into Criterion to work on Need for Speed, and now SMS will likely be shifted to support a narrowed portfolio of games in some ways.
Not only that, but Project CARS and Project CARS 2 have recently been delisted from sale online after various licenses expired. This leaves Project CARS 3 as the sole surviving game…. for now.
Project CARS was an upstart challenger for the simcade racing crown, a multiplatform effort that aimed to capture the interest of Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport fans through the PS4 and Xbox One era. The first game was funded in part by Kickstarter and proved a major commercial success, with Project CARS 2 refining on that game in many ways. Project CARS 3, however, took a different more arcade direction.
In our review for Project Cars 3, Thomas wrote, “Project CARS 3 suffers from a case of mistaken identity. Once you adjust to the new direction, you can get into a fun flow of ticking off objectives, drifting around hairpins and purchasing upgrades. However, while the series’ existing platform means you get a great variety of circuits, cars and weather conditions, it also shackles this game from being a great arcade racing experience.”