Maxis Emeryville, the game development studio best known for the Sim City, Spore and the early Sims video games, has been shut down by its parent company Electronics Arts today.
SimCity lead gameplay scripter and designer Guillaume Pierre confirmed the closure in a tweet: "Well it was a fun 12 years, but it's time to turn off the lights and put the key under the door. #RIPMaxisEmeryville." In the same thread, he mentioned that "the shop is closing down" and "everyone's out of a job."
Electronic Arts, or EA, released a full statement courtesy of PC Gamer: "Today we 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."
EA goes on to explain the studio closure will not affect future plans for The Sims 4 which includes its first expansion pack, and that employees "impacted by the changes today will be given opportunities to explore other positions within the Maxis studios and throughout EA." Those leaving will be given "separation packages and career assistance."
Originally founded in 1987 and bought up by EA in 1997, Maxis made its mark with Will Wright's series of SimCity games, and later, The Sims series.
In 2013, Maxis and EA released a reboot of SimCity infamous for its always-online requirement. A botched launch involving crippled servers and lost save data rendered the game unplayable for weeks. Maxis made matters worse when the company defended its always-online connection requirement even though modders proved it was unnecessary. Eventually, the game was officially patched to work offline. These issues may have been what led to the studio's closure. Furthermore, SimCity and The Sims 4 have underperformed according to a Maxis insider.
Electronic Arts has become known among gamers as something of a meat grinder of once-popular game developers and franchises. When the controversial publisher, voted the Worst Company in America twice in a row, buys up studios the following games made under EA's banner are often criticized for being dumbed down to appeal to a mass market. Typically, the games bomb and the studios involved are shut down. It's a sound predatory strategy for EA which would otherwise have to compete with those companies for market share.
Other game studios absorbed then later shut down by EA include Westwood, known for the Commander & Conquer and Dune series; Origin, known for the Ultima, Wing Commander and Crusader games; Bullfrog, known for Syndicate, Populous and Dungeon Keeper; Pandemic, known for The Saboteur and Star Wars: Battlefront games; DreamWorks Interactive, known for Medal of Honor; Black Box Games, known for Need For Speed and Skate; and Mythic, known for Dark Age of Camelot.
EA also owns Criterion, known for Burnout; DICE, known for Mirror's Edge and Battlefield; and BioWare, known for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights and Mass Effect.
Photo Credit: SimCity | YouTube