Slightly Mad founder criticises EA’s decision to cancel ‘Project Cars’ series

Writing on Twitter, Ian Bell spoke of the "hopes, dreams and families" of staff who'll be affected by the move

Ian Bell, founder and former CEO of Slightly Mad Studios, has criticised EA following the company’s decision to shelve the Project Cars racing series.

Yesterday (November 8), EA confirmed that it would be halting “further development and investment” of the franchise, which launched in 2015. There has since been two sequels: Project Cars 2 (2017) and Project Cars 3 (2020).

The games are available on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. A mobile spin-off, Project Cars Go, came out in March 2021 for Android and iOS devices. Every Project Cars release to date was developed by Slightly Mad.

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“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,” an EA spokesperson explained.

Bell, who founded Slightly Mad in 2009, left the company last month. “With the studio’s future now assured, the time is right for me to step aside,” he wrote in a message on social media at the time.

Last night, Bell responded to the Project Cars news – which is expected to impact Slightly Mad’s 160-plus strong staff – by tweeting: “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?”

In a follow up post, Bell wrote: “So that’s about 18 hours and counting calling all of the old [Project Cars 2] team.

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“Many of the GTR 2 guys are already with us and most of the [Project Cars 2] superstars want to join. GTR Revolution is going full hardcore in every possible way we can think of. It’s already building. Input welcomed.”

Later, Bell called on “any of the old team I haven’t gotten numbers for” to contact him via email. He also responded to some fans questions in the replies – you can check out the posts below.

In a statement issued to GamesIndustry.biz, EA had earlier claimed that Slightly Mad  employees would be transferred “into suitable roles across our EA Sports and racing portfolio” where possible.

According to VGC, Bell previously accused EA of attempting to “destroy” Slightly Mad after it published the studio’s first two games: Need For Speed: Shift (2009) and its sequel Shift 2: Unleashed (2011).

“They tried to fuck us over, there’s no other way to put it,” he said back in 2017. “That’s what they tried to do. They tried to destroy us, and we have no love for EA in this company.”

Bell singled out Patrick Söderlund, EA’s former worldwide studios boss, describing him as “the worst corporate monster” and saying that the publisher was trying to buy out Slightly Mad.

Announcing its plans to halt development on Project Cars, EA explained: “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.”

The statement added: “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.”

Over the summer, Slightly Mad Studios confirmed that Project Cars and Project Cars 2 would be delisted from all storefronts due to licensing issues.

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