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Will Wright leaving Electronic Arts

Wed 08 Apr 2009 6:30pm GMT / 2:30pm EDT / 11:30am PDT
BusinessPeople

Maxis co-founder to move to new company Stupid Fun Club, with investment and partnership from former employer

The Sims and Spore creator Will Wright is leaving Electronic Arts to start his own venture developing new intellectual properties for multiple media, including games, movies, TV, the internet and toys.

However, Electronic Arts will be principal shareholders in the business, along with Will Wright, and both will own equal percentages in the company, Stupid Fun Club.

"The entertainment industry is moving rapidly into an era of revolutionary change," commented Will Wright.

"Stupid Fun Club will explore new possibilities that are emerging from this sublime chaos and create new forms of entertainment on a variety of platforms.

"In my twelve years at EA, I've had the pleasure to work alongside some of the brightest and most talented game developers in the industry and I look forward to working with them again in the near future."

Electronic Arts will also have the right to develop videogames based on Stupid Fun Club properties.

"We believe in Will's vision for Stupid Fun Club and we're looking forward to partnering with Will and his team long into the future," said John Riccitiello, EA's Chief Executive Officer.

"Will is a great designer and he's been part of a great legacy of globally recognised game franchises like The Sims, SimCity and Spore. The teams that have been leading those franchises in recent years have a lot of exciting content coming."

Will Wright created games studio Maxis in 1989, and in 1997 it was acquired by EA. Maxis will continue as an EA studio, and be headed by Lucy Bradshaw.

"Will has been an inspiration to our teams, and it's been rewarding for us to bring his ideas to life," offered Bradshaw, VP and General Manager of Maxis.

"In addition to legendary games, Will's legacy at EA will be the many talented people who worked with him and will now continue to contribute their own vision to the art of game development."

2 Comments

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief

194 196 1.0
Will Wright is one of a handful of development superstores. I'm sure that EA were desperately keen to keep him, and investing in his new production company is part of that.

But overall, I believe that this signals a new era of games, likely to lead to publishers reducing their inhouse development teams and super-star developers with their names on the box earning vast sums.

It will lead, I believe, to a Golden Era of Gaming.

http://www.gamesbrief.com/2009/04/will-wrights-departure-signals-the-end-of-the-entire-games-publisher-business-model/

Posted:5 years ago

#1

Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media

97 0 0.0
Just read your article Nicholas, very interesting. I've had similar thoughts and I agree there's likely to be a publisher trend emerging.

However I don't see a impending stampede towards this model. If you're an actual game developer today, what you tend to see is publishers ensuring their internal studios followed by local studios end up being the ones to get the gigs. Procurement verging on cronyism, which is kind of inevitable when you're asking people to place their reputation on the line to take a bet of this magnitude.

Given a ublisher has worked with a local/favorite company for years there's likely to be strong relationships there. Which of them can say that they genuinely assess all the external development opportunities available to them on merit alone? Not many I think. It's human nature, better the devil you know and all that.

Ultimately though, there's one thing you've said which I cannot agree with. "Talent is Scarce". It's not. There's an unbelievably large amount of talent. The fundamental issue surrounds how you get something original and fun funded, Eg. how to convince some business guys to front the money, and how to get it through the most complex kind of software engineering process imaginable, working in partnership with a publisher with varying degrees of competency and inclination to manage/meddle on a creative level, to ultimately deliver a high quality game.

It's easy to say it's Will Wright. You need guys like Will Wright certainly but there's plenty of guys like Will Wright. It's the whole rest of the equation which the industry struggles with.

So the real Golden Era of Gaming, to my mind, is coming about due to lower barrier to entry via digital platforms. Okay they're not paying the Sims but it's these guys who will be making the *next* big games.

There's now more creative guys unleashed making the games they want to, unhindered by guys in suits telling them what makes a good game, because it's easier to fund a game, and gain experience in building a a team that can create a fun game through the insanely complex process required to do so.

I hope the big names end up being studio labels, rather than names. Fresh indies springing up with guys that are passionate about making games and when you see their logo on a game, not the publishers, you say "Hey, this is something I gotta check out".

Posted:5 years ago

#2

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