When Good Things Fail: A Rundown Of Major Studios Shut Down By Electronic Arts
With all the buzz lately following the announcement that Visceral Games would close down, many fans began to wonder if this is a trend. This isn’t even close to the first game studio to be shut down by Electronic Arts, and probably won’t be the last. The thing is, everything has an expiration date, even if it breaks some gamer’s hearts. On that note, here is a list of all the beloved studios that EA has closed over the years, with a brief history of each, in order from when they ended.
Players may remember the masters of the strategy game from the late 80’s/early 90’s. Bullfrog Productions was behind great titles like Populous, Theme Park, and one of THE BEST cyberpunk games – Syndicate. EA took over the studio, led by Peter Molyneux, back in 1995 and then released games like Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper.
Unfortunately, Bullfrog Productions did not live up to Electronic Arts expectations after a not so great job on Dungeon Keeper 2. They asked the studio to do better on the next sequel, but ultimately cancelled the project altogether and what was left of Bullfrog merged into EA UK, completely dissolving in 2001.
Another great in the strategy realm of games, Westwood Studios helped to launch many core real-time strategy mechanics with Dune 2. Eventually the company completely rocked the strategy world with the Command & Conquer franchise and a legend was born.
EA decided to buy them out in 1998, but after Westwood failed to impress them with Earth & Beyond and Command & Conquer: Renegade, Electronic Arts decided to close the doors on both Westwood and their sister developer, Burst Studios in 2003.
Formerly a big name in PC gaming, Origin Systems was behind some of the greatest series’ ever. The studio was behind the Ultima games and the Wing Commander franchise, so it made sense that EA would want a piece of that. They bought Origin Systems in 1992 and at first, things kept on going just as they always had.
The studio gained more staff, new Wing Commander and Ultima games, and even created the cult classic BioForge. It seemed as if everything was going great, until Electronic Arts decided to cancel all of Origin Systems’ projects and limited them to only maintaining and creating new online Ultima games. The studio was closed completely by 2004.
EA bought out the parent company of both BioWare and Pandemic Studios, VG Holding Corp, in 2008 for a whopping $860 million. We all know that BioWare continues to flourish under the wings of Electronic Arts, but Pandemic was not so lucky. Lasting less than 2 years, Pandemic came to an end in 2009.
The thing is, the games that were created after Electronic Arts took control, were not the greatest (*cough* Lord of the Rings: Conquest *cough*) despite Pandemic’s previous success. Many fans were saddened by the closure even though DICE took over the Star Wars Battlefront series, some say it will never be as great again.
Black Box Games
Most fans know that Black Box Games is famous for their work on the Need for Speed series. After being purchased by EA in 2002, the studio went on to deliver some awesome stuff like the Need for Speed: Underground games, but they really stepped it up by creating the best skateboarding series, Skate.
Unfortunately the studio was faced with restructuring from EA that ultimately led to their demise. After Electronic Arts moved the studio over to digital formats, like free-to-play and social, they changed the studio’s name to Quicklime Games before just closing it down altogether in 2013.
DreamWorks Interactive/ Danger Close Games
DreamWorks Interactive created the first-person shooter Medal of Honor, before being purchased by EA in 2000. Electronic Arts then rebranded the studio as EA Los Angeles, bringing more to the Medal of Honor franchise and bringing forth Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth.
The studio’s name was change again in 2010 to Danger Close Games, but that wasn’t the only thing to get a facelift. They also changed the Medal of Honor series to be more modern and resemble the Call of Duty franchise. As we’ve seen before with these other studios, Electronic Arts became unimpressed with Danger Close Games’ work and merged the studio into DICE.
Mythic Entertainment was hugely successful with multiplayer games. One of their most popular titles was the MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. They were bought by EA in 2006, which was a year after the studio announced they were working on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
Following the takeover, Mythic took on the maintenance of Ultima Online, but after only a few months past the closing of Warhammer Online, Electronic Arts decided to close Mythic Entertainment. The responsibility of Ultima Online then passed on to Broadsword.
Waystone wasn’t the biggest game studio, but they still wanted to do great things. This studio is a perfect example of what could happen when developers create projects purely following what’s trending in the game world.
They were working on Dawngate, a MOBA title, with EA trying to get in on the market dominated by games like League of Legends. Dawngate didn’t even make it past the beta. Electronic Arts decided to shut down the project AND Waystone Games, for good.
Everyone knows Maxis thanks to their sim games. The studio was founded by Will Wright and was purchased by EA in 1997. Already known for their SimCity franchise, Maxis then of course went on to create The Sims, one of the top-selling series’ of all time. Later in 2013, the studio released their downfall, a SimCity reboot. The title was a massive failure and despite moving on to produce The Sims 4, Maxis was quietly melded into Electronic Arts’ mobile division in 2015.
What was previously a support studio, BioWare Montreal was given the lead development on Mass Effect: Andromeda. It was a highly anticipated title and the studio seemed a little out of their depth. Following the release, the game received mixed reviews with a lot of complaints of technical issues. Because of the reception the title received, EA put the Mass Effect series on hiatus and dissolved BioWare Montreal into EA Motive.
These are not the only studios closed down by Electronic Arts, and there will most likely be a lot more over the years. Which studio were you the most sad about closing? Let us know in the comment section below and then make sure to follow DFTG on Twitter to stay updated on all the hottest gaming and pop culture news 24/7!
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