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EA shuts down Maxis Emeryville

SimCity studio closed as franchise IP development redistributed to other studios worldwide

The studio behind the always-online SimCity reboot has been closed. Electronic Arts today shut down Emeryville-based Maxis, confirming the news in a statement to Polygon.

"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," the company said. "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."

The company said the closure would not impact its plans for The Sims franchise, which is being developed out of Electronic Arts' Redwood Shores campus. The Emeryville location produced the 2013 SimCity, which endured a troubled launch as the result of its requirement that players be constantly connected to EA servers and an inability to keep the servers up and running. Nearly a year after the launch, EA dropped the always-online requirement. Despite the issues, the game reached 2 million copies sold.

"All employees impacted by the changes today will be given opportunities to explore other positions within the Maxis studios and throughout EA," the company said. "For those that are leaving the company, we are working to ensure the best possible transition with separation packages and career assistance."

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Latest comments (7)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Considering how often this happens in this industry (that is, companies buying studios only to close them some time later whilst keeping the IP rights), shouldn't we think of a name to easily describe it? It's not Asset Stripping in the corporate sense, but if you consider the actions taken, and the end result - the studio dead and IP/Franchise (assets of the studio) being acquired and moved about by the owner - some similarly doom-laden phrase should be used.

In any event, I hope the staff find new positions quickly enough. Never fun to be made unemployed by a company.
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Maxis was bought by EA eighteen years ago. This is hardly a cynical asset-stripping job - the studio was saved from financial peril by the buyout, had eighteen years making some of the most popular games in history(as well as some massive flops), and now they're done.

The timing of the shutdown certainly seems suspect - right in the middle of GDC when everyone's looking elsewhere - but under-performing studios get shuttered all the time. It sucks for the employees, and I hope they can move on quickly, but it hardly seems like some ominous ploy on EA's part.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii knewwwwww my comment was going to be taken out of context. :p

The timing is definitely cynical, but my comment was not meant as a jibe against the length of time EA had had Maxis and closed it but a more general comment about how often this happens, and how easily it can be waved away by the phrase "they were under-performing".

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th March 2015 8:06am

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Show all comments (7)
Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe4 years ago
@Morville:
"IP stripping" should do the trick ;)
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
@ Istvan

Haha... I like that. Simple. :)

Considering this news more, I wonder exactly the reasoning behind it. Maxis have produced two of the biggest selling PC franchises ever, and whilst both the new Sim City and Sims undersold, it seems brutal to kill the studio off at this point in time. I wonder if EA set unreasonable sales targets which the games could never hit (especially, it has to be said, when they weren't sold on Steam), or whether the sales expectations were realistic, but even then underachieved. In any other sector, I would say the latter was the obvious answer, but in this (somewhat crazy) industry?

Edit: In fact, would it be fair to consider if EA's stand against Steam is now harming sales/revenue to a great degree? The obvious answer would be "Don't be silly." But with 125m "active users" now, the case for not being on Steam (even with 100% revenue going to EA, with games purchased on Origin) is looking pretty laughable, surely? The number of eyeballs lost alone is scary. Or, to put it another way, would being on Steam have made the Maxis closure less likely to occur at this time?

(Note: Not saying EA is entirely to blame for not being on Steam, just to head that off at the pass. :) )

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th March 2015 2:09pm

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Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe4 years ago
TBH There is nothing to blame on EA imho in this case. Probably the games cost way too much compared to lifetime sales recently of such niche (compared to other genres!) projects.

Here is another word for you though: strIPing.
http://www.ecs.umass.edu/ece/koren/architecture/Raid/striping.html
The description is pretty much spot on in terms of IP and studio relationships - so all we need now is the capital IP letters there...
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Anthony Chan4 years ago
I do hope everybody who was at Maxis Emeryville recover and move onto something they love. But I find it hard pressed to start forming conspiracy theories as to why EA would close Maxis.

At the end of the day I think it was a business decision. In this generation, it seems that EA has become the typical tech conglomerate who buys up dev studios to add to its portfolio of IP and hence increasing its earnings potential. It is similar to planting fruit and veggie plants in the garden. Ideally we would like all plants to bear fruits that continue year after year. However that is not aways the case and therw is a need to just kill any plants that don't bear a yield that is acceptable to stakeholders.

Sometimes it just makes sense to kill a plant that bears a mediocre and acceptable yield as the business wants to plant another one in its place - one with larger yield potential than just an acceptable yield.

This is just business sense, and no matter what industry you are in, all large conglomerate corporations do this.
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