E.A Eats another developer.

In case you have not heard, EA has closed down Maxis-Emeryville, the former Will Wright commanded starship citing to IGN they are “…are consolidating Maxis IP development to our studios in Redwood Shores, Salt Lake City, Helsinki and Melbourne locations as we close our Emeryville location.” […] “Maxis continues to support and develop new experiences for current Sims and SimCity players, while expanding our franchises to new platforms and developing new cross-platform IP.”

But Maxis-Emeryville is shutting down.  The Sims will live on.  SimCity will live on and even the Maxis brand will continue but the original 1987 studio is now defunct. For your pleasure, I have compiled a list of studios E.A has purchased and then closed… as is tradition.

Bullfrog (Dungeon Keeper) – Purchased in 1995, shut down in 2001.

Westwood (Command & Conquer) – Purchased in 1998, shut down in 2003.

Origin (Wing Commander) – Purchased in 1992. shut down in 2004.

NuFX (NBA Street) – Purchased in 2004, shut down in 2007.

Pandemic (The Saboteur) – Purchased in 2008, shut down in 2009.

DreamWorks Interactive/Danger Close/EA Los Angeles (Medal of Honor) – Purchased in 2000, shut down in 2013.

Black Box Games (Skate) – Purchased in 2002, shut down in 2013.

PlayFish (The Sims Social) – Purchased in 2009, shut down in 2013.

Phenomic (BattleForge) – Purchased in 2006, shut down in 2013.

Mythic (Dark Age of Camelot) – Purchased in 2006, shut down in 2014

Maxis (SimCity) – Purchased in 1997, shut down in 2015.

***

I have to wonder how DICE or BioWare feel about Maxis being shut down as well the possibility of it happening to them should one of their franchises under perform. Sure Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Battlefield are popular but where is Mirror’s Edge 2? Sure it is in the pipeline but by this point one could argue we should be talking about Mirror’s Edge 3 or 4 or even a spin-off.  However, since DICE cannot risk an underperforming title, they stick to making EA money.

Despite EA’s appearance to the average gamer, I constantly hear that as a business partner and an employer, EA is a great company.  However, it is quite obvious that there is pressure from EA to have a successful franchise because Mirror’s Edge sold 2.5 million copies and that was not enough for EA to put the squeeze on to develop a brand new franchise.  a DICE rep has come forward and explained that the vision for Mirror’s Edge 2 was only possible on current generation tech but developers scale back content to meet console requirements during  the development process frequently.  And am I to believe that in 2008/2009 when a sequel should enter pre-development, that the vision of a sequel was so advanced DICE looked at the 360 and PS3 in their infancy and just knew a sequel wasn’t possible?  The original barely pushed the limits of tech but a sequel would break something they didn’t even understand… yeah, I’m sure.  And now Mirror’s Edge 2 has to be so off the wall good because it is a “game that could only be built in gen 4” according to EA’s Patrick Soderlund.

This is circular.  It is an EA promise that sets themselves up for disaster all the time.  The spin is always “This game could only built now and it is the perfect time for it.” And then the game ships broken. Battlefield 4 and the most recent SimCity are two examples. The Sims 4 ships without standard features users are used to and then are added a few weeks later. If these games can only be built now, how come they do not work and are missing features? Is every developer in the EA stable one miss away from being closed?

It is near impossible to avoid buying an EA game and their new game streaming service will only get better with age so EA will be around for a very long time but if your favorite developer is under their umbrella, will they survive?

The Jaded Gamer
Twitter: @IamFN2K
IamFN2K@gmail.com

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