Electronic Arts, one of the biggest names in the gaming industry, has shut down numerous studios in the past, sending shockwaves through the gaming community. Some would go as far as referring to EA as the gaming spectre of doom, killing studios after acquiring them. The studio closures have resulted in the cancellation of some highly anticipated games (Star Wars: Battlefront fans know what I’m talking about), leaving gamers disappointed and developers without jobs.
The impact of these closures has been felt not only by gamers and software developers, but also by the wider industry, as it raises questions about the stability of jobs in the gaming world in an already volatile industry(As the industry continues to evolve, it remains to be seen which studios will thrive and which will fall victim to the harsh realities of the market. Let’s take a look at five studios that were snuffed out unfairly.
Westwood Studios was a video game developer that was founded in 1985 by Brett Sperry and Louis Castle. The company created some of the most popular real-time strategy games of the 90s, namely the Command & Conquer franchise and the Dune games. Command & Conquer was a groundbreaking game that introduced a new level of complexity to the real-time strategy genre, with its intricate gameplay mechanics and engaging storyline. The game was a massive success and spawned several sequels, including Red Alert (which I played on the original PlayStation and has a Metacritic score of 90) and Tiberian Sun(Metacritic of 88).
In light of their success, Westwood Studios was acquired by EA in 1998. Although the studio continued to produce Command & Conquer games, their autonomy was slowly eroded by EA’s corporate culture, leading to a decline in the quality of their games. The studio’s focus on real-time strategy games was also seen as a disadvantage, as the popularity of the genre started to decline in the early 2000s.
In 2003, EA merged Westwood Studios into its Los Angeles-based studio, and shut down the company in 2003. The closure of Westwood Studios was a significant loss for the gaming industry, as it marked the end of an era of innovation and creativity in real-time strategy games. Something we wouldn’t really see again until a decade later.
Maxis was a celebrated American video game developer that was founded in 1987 by Will Wright and Jeff Braun. The company was responsible for creating some of the most iconic simulation games of all time, including SimCity, The Sims, and Spore. SimCity revolutionized the simulation genre, allowing players to build and manage their own virtual cities way before that became a common mechanic.
The Sims, on the other hand, was a life simulation game that allowed players to create and control their own virtual people. Spore was a game that allowed players to design and evolve their own creatures from a single-celled organism to a space-faring civilization. You can see the pattern of sandbox-like play and player control. Maxis was eventually obtained by Electronic Arts (EA) in 1997 through a swap stock.
While Maxis continued to produce popular games, the studio faced criticism from fans and critics alike for a perceived lack of innovation and creativity. Additionally, the studio’s focus on simulation games was seen as a disadvantage,. A pattern is starting to emerge here. In 2015, EA announced that it would be shutting down Maxis as part of a restructuring plan. The name would live on through other smaller studios, but the original Maxis office in Emeryville was finished.
Unlike all the other studios here Visceral was actually created internally instead of being acquired. Visceral was founded in 1998 as EA Redwood Shores. The studio was known for creating some of the most popular action-adventure games including: the Dead Space series, Dante’s Inferno, The Simpsons Game, and Battlefield Hardline.
The Dead Space series, in particular, was highly regarded for its unique gameplay mechanics and immersive narrative with a minimalist HUD. The games followed the protagonist Isaac Clarke as he navigated through the terrifying Ishimura space station, battling grotesque monsters with a variety of weapons and abilities.
However, in 2017, Electronic Arts announced that it would be closing down Visceral Games as part of a strategic shift towards “games as a service” and live experiences. The closure of the studio was a significant blow to fans of the Dead Space series, as it effectively ended any hopes for a new game in the franchise. Fortunately we have since received a 2023 remake (with glowing reviews). The decision to shut down Visceral Games was met with widespread criticism from fans and industry experts, who saw it as yet another example of EA’s focus on profit over creative vision and originality.
Pandemic Studios was a video game developer founded in 1998 in California by Andrew Goldman and Josh Resnick, after leaving Activision. The studio created several popular game titles, including Star Wars: Battlefront, Full Spectrum Warrior, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, and The Saboteur (one of my favorite PS3 games). These games were well-received by both critics and players alike, and helped establish Pandemic as one of the leading game developers of its time.
However, despite the studio’s success, Pandemic Studios was closed down by its parent company, EA, in 2009 after being acquired by them in 2007 as part of a package deal. There were several reasons why EA made this decision. The global economic crisis had hit the gaming industry hard, and EA was looking to cut costs. Secondly, there were creative differences between EA and Pandemic, with EA wanting the studio to focus more on developing games for its popular franchises, such as Madden NFL and FIFA, rather than taking creative risks on new projects.
Finally, the closure of Pandemic Studios was also part of a broader restructuring of EA’s business strategy, which involved consolidating its development studios and focusing more on online and mobile gaming. This closure probably hurts the most as Pandemic had been conceptually working on Star Wars: Battlefront 3 at the time of the closure, and Star Wars fans have been reeling ever since.
Origin Systems was a game development company that was founded in 1983 in Austin, Texas. The studio is best known for creating the Ultima series of role-playing games, which were hugely popular in the 1980s and 1990s. The studio also created other notable games such as Wing Commander and System Shock.
However, in 2004, Electronic Arts (EA) acquired Origin Systems and began to restructure the company. The studio’s founder, Richard Garriott, left the company in 2008, and in 2009, EA announced that it was closing down Origin Systems. The reason given for the closure was that the studio’s projects were not meeting EA’s expectations for financial success.
Some fans think the closure was also due to a cultural clash between the studio and EA. Origin Systems was known for its focus on story-driven single-player games, while EA was shifting its focus towards online and multiplayer games. EA’s decision to shut down Origin Systems was met with disappointment from industry insiders, who saw the move as the end of an era for one of the most influential game development studios of the 1980s and 1990s.
It’s always unfortunate when a game studio closes and you see their IP get scattered to the wind. But such are the harsh realities of capitalism and the tech industry. Have a favorite studio you would love to see make a comeback? Think another studio should get the axe? Comment down below your thoughts on this topic. Make sure to subscribe to GeekNewsNow.net! Check out my gaming centric podcast, DuoSense, while you’re at it. As always, stay geeky!