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Electronic Arts shuts down Project Cars

Slightly Mad’s sim racer didn’t fit with EA’s growing racing portfolio

An in-game, close-up view of a tuned up street racing car with a very large spoiler, seen from the rear driver’s side bumper
Project Cars 2 (2017)
Image: Slightly Mad Studios/Bandai Namco
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The Project Cars series, which Electronic Arts acquired when it bought Codemasters in early 2021, will be shut down. EA confirmed the closure to on Tuesday.

Codemasters had acquired the intellectual property as well as its developer, Slightly Mad Studios, in 2019. In a statement, EA said it closed Project Cars in order to “prioritize our focus in areas where we believe we have the strongest opportunity to create experiences that fans will love.”

“[W]ith shifting fan expectations,” the publisher said later, “we recognize the need to evolve our games beyond pure play.”

That remark subtly illustrates why Project Cars was out of place among EA’s growing racing portfolio. Project Cars (2015) and its successors, 2017’s Project Cars 2 and 2020’s Project Cars 3 were all driving simulations, in the mode of Sony’s Gran Turismo or Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport series, or EA’s own Need for Speed: Shift sub-franchise — which Slightly Mad developed in 2009 and 2011. Need for Speed has not revisited that format since the days of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Meanwhile, Codemasters has added a narrative mode and lifestyle features to its F1 series; wrapped Grid Legends in a story mode with live-action, documentary style scenes; and Need For Speed: Unbound, launching Dec. 2, is an action racer packed with customization options, street-racing lifestyle, and musical guest stars.

In its statement, Electronic Arts said any developers still working on Project Cars would be moved to “suitable” roles elsewhere in the company. (Slightly Mad employed about 150 at the time Codemasters picked it up.) That aligns with past reorganizations, which includes putting the former Codemasters Cheshire office underneath Criterion Games when that studio was put back in charge of the Need For Speed series.

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