Update: despite earlier declining to comment, EA have since told Eurogamer that the report is "patently false", while Viceral's UI lead has tweeted that "The reports of our death were greatly exaggerated." Perhaps it would have been better to say that when a whole bunch of people asked the first time?
Update 2: EA's Peter Moore has claimed, in comments on GI.biz, that the entire story was made up by Videogamer in the pursuit of traffic. Who knows the truth? Certainly, we shouldn't have run the story here without some kind of confirmation - frankly, I let myself be too guided by the fact EA were initially giving out 'no comment' comments. Live, learn, update posts.
It's not pinin'! It's passed on! This franchise is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! Its metabolic processes are now 'istory! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible! It's f-ckin' snuffed it! This is an ex-franchise!
This post brought to you by a sense of humour from 1969. You know us Brits, always with our Monty Python gags. Perhaps it's the only way I know how to pay tribute to Dead Space, the EA action series which has reportedly uh, taken a holiday in the wake of lacklustre sales for the recent third game.
Videogamer today cites sources as claiming Dead Space 4 canned while in pre-production at Visceral Games. Lower-than-expected DS3 sales were blamed, and allegedly will also lead to a 'restructuring' of Visceral. Restructuring's a funny word, because it sounds a bit as thought something is being built. In fact, it usually means things - specifically, people - are taken away. Videogamer is also reporting the outright closure of Visceral's Montreal studio. God speed, gentle developers.
I can't say I'm particularly sorry, which isn't (for once) out of spite for DS3's microtransactionpocalypse, and instead because, well, it's not a particularly ambitious action series, is it? I mean, the first two games are pretty good but they've done what they set out to do, and we're not exactly bereft of guns and space-monsters, so if it clears the way for something else that's not so bad. Big if, I guess.
Also alleged is a troubled development for Dead Space 3, in which some of its more notorious aspects (generic ammo, microtransactions, a more straight-up run'n'gun approach) were reputedly due to publisher stipulations. This would seem to to tally with recent EA comments about the major role microtransactions will play in "all our games" going forward.
Dead Space 3's sales weren't terrible, and it even managed to top the UK games charts, but with sales some 26% lower than Dead Space 2's. That's not what a large business entity wants from its franchises - growth is the only success that counts for a megacorp, so ruthlessness would scarcely be any surprise.
None of this is confirmed of course, and even if a Dead Space 4 design has been canned it doesn't mean that another one won't appear at some point. As you'll see across the web, EA's been telling assorted sites who inquire about this that it doesn't comment on rumour or speculation, so I shall allow myself to be governed by laziness this time.