EA closes Maxis Emeryville studio

March 5, 2015 | 11:24

Tags: #job-cuts #job-losses #simcity #spore #the-sims #will-wright

Companies: #ea #electronic-arts #maxis

Electronics Arts has closed its Maxis Emeryville studio, putting an end to the group responsible for SimCity, Spore and The Sims.

Founded in 1987 by Will Wright and Jeff Braun, Maxis' first product was SimCity and proved a smash hit for the company. Allowing gamers to manage an entire city, from planning public conveniences to laying out road networks, the franchise was well-loved and spawned numerous sequels. Its spin-off, The Sims, was produced by Will Wright directly following his company's acquisition by publishing giant EA in 1997, and took things down to a micro level by allowing the player direct control of a single household living in the SimCity world.

Recent launches haven't gone so well for EA, however. Its SimCity reboot, released in 2013, had numerous problems ranging from terrible AI and buggy gameplay to the instance - proved untrue by cracking teams - that the game absolutely required a live connection to EA's servers to perform gameplay processing and could not operate as an offline title. The latest entry in The Sims, imaginatively titled The Sims 4 and developed by an in-house team at EA dubbed The Sims Studio, has also been savaged by fans for launching without features common to previous titles in the series. Spore, developed by Maxis Emeryville as a life simulator, also failed to achieve the sales for which EA had been hoping.

Now, EA has decided to shutter Maxis Emeryville. '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,' EA confirmed in a statement to press. '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.

'These changes do not impact our plans for The Sims. Players will continue to see rich new experiences in The Sims 4, with our first expansion pack coming soon along with a full slate of additional updates and content in the pipeline.
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A series of social media posts captured by fan portal Beyond Sims indicates that a small number of employees have accepted relocation packages to move to EA's headquarters and continue development of the rebooted SimCity franchise.
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