Longtime development studio of the legendary Sim franchises Maxis was shut down today by parent company Electronic Arts. The news comes via several news outlets quoting designer Guillaume Pierre who tweeted about the shuttering of Maxis Emeryville.
Maxis Emeryville was the epicenter of Maxis, the studio that famed designer Will Wright opened in 1987, and recently developed 2013’s SimCity. Maxis also created EA tentpole franchise The Sims, which saw the launch of The Sims 4 last year. The Sims appears to be unaffected as The Sims Studio was created to handle development and support of the popular PC franchise. Additionally, word on whether the overseeing name of EA Maxis will be renamed after Maxis’ closure. EA Maxis had Maxis (Emeryville), The Sims Studio, EA Salt Lake and Maxis (Helsinski) under its umbrella.
SimCity (2013) saw modest success in initial sales and was trumpeted as having a ton of refinements and improvements to the 25 year old franchise, many rooted in cloud processing. But with the cloud processing came the caveat of an always online requirement, a “feature” that drew the ire of gamers and series fans. Coupled with a rocky launch that saw the online functionality broken and the game essentially unplayable, SimCity was quickly written off as a failed attempt at locking content to EA’s wallets. Even worse was that modders found ways to circumvent the online checks within the game and discovered that the cloud processing features were mostly unneeded resulting in many to conclude that the requirement was smoke and mirrors by EA to force online DRM.
Regardless of the fact that the writing was on the wall for Maxis, it is always a shame to hear of a studio’s closure, especially one with nearly 30 years of experience and multiple landmark titles including the original SimCity, SimCity 2000, Spore and The Sims. Hopefully somebody will carry the torch and we will continue to be able to drop tornadoes into our cities.