An Updated List Of Studios EA Has Bought And Then Shut Down

An Updated List Of Studios EA Has Bought And Then Shut Down

Massive game publisher Electronic Arts has a reputation for snatching up talented development studios and then running them into the ground.

While some of EA's big acquisitions remain successful today — like DICE and BioWare — the mega-publisher has also been responsible for the closures of a number of beloved game-makers. In the wake of today's news that SimCity developer Maxis Emeryville is no more, let's take a look at a newly-updated list of studios that EA has purchased only to shut down later.

Maxis (SimCity) - Purchased by EA in 1997; shut down in 2015. [Though EA says the "Maxis" brand will live on, the main studio is officially no more.]

Mythic (Dark Age of Camelot) - Purchased by EA in 2006; shut down in 2014.

Bullfrog (Syndicate, Dungeon Keeper) - Purchased by EA in 1995; shut down in 2001.

Origin (Ultima, Wing Commander) - Purchased by EA in 1992; shut down in 2004.

Westwood (Command & Conquer) - Purchased by EA in 1998; shut down in 2003.

DreamWorks Interactive/Danger Close/EA Los Angeles (Medal of Honour) - Purchased by EA in 2000; shut down in 2013.

Phenomic (SpellForce, BattleForge) - Purchased by EA in 2006; shut down in 2013.

Black Box Games (Need for Speed, Skate) - Purchased by EA in 2002; shut down in 2013.

Pandemic (The Saboteur) - Purchased by EA in 2008; shut down in 2009.

PlayFish (The Sims Social) - Purchased by EA in 2009; shut down in 2013.

NuFX (NBA Street) - Purchased by EA in 2004; shut down in 2007.


Comments

    a few of those were really good developers. I wish we still had bullfrog in particular.

      Most of the studios were abandoned by the people who made them worthwhile long before they were shut down.

      Criterion, for example, is dead in every meaningful way.

      Westwood was the one that hurt the most.

        I think that's debatable. Origin hurt a lot, and then EA gave them the final coup de grace by re-using the Origin name to refer to their much-maligned digital distribution system.

    An interesting follow up would be the games that now exist because those studios were shut down.

      Like what? You think you could make an article on that?

    Dreamworks, Bullfrog and Westwood. All 3 developed some of my favourite games. Thanks Obama EA

      By the time they closed them, most of the people that worked on those games you liked weren't there. Westwood especially - just about everyone left that studio the instant EA purchased it and they were left with effectively a shell of a studio.

        Doesn't matter though because EA retains the IP rights to all the franchises that we know and loved. Then they can run the franchise into the ground with crappy sequels and mobile pay-to-win versions. Fuck EA.

        The fact that EA has had trouble hanging on to the talent behind the studios they purchase doesn't paint them in a good light either though ...

          True, but that's the case with most business acquisitions. When small studios are bought out by big publishers it also often means the employees get a share in the buyout amount which can be substantial and sometimes enough for them to fund stepping out on their own.

            For a game development studio where much of the IP is owned by publishers, what value do you get besides the people?

            I don't think it is normal for all the employees to jump ship when a company is bought. And I suspect that the more successful studios EA has bought are the ones where they didn't alienate the employees.

          That's because anyone with half a brain knows that they're exploitative, greedy, self-interested and hell-bent on ruining every game franchise and studio it can get its hands while it wrings their necks to squeeze out every single potential dollar they have left in them.

    Origin. So many childhood dreams. That really sucked.

    Would have loved to have seen more Command and Conquer.

      Try Grey Goo, a game by the guys who made the Command and Conquer.

      It may not be good ol GDI vs Nod but the game play should be solid.

      I have not had the spare cash to purchase the game myself or play it.

    It's OK when EA does it.

    RIP Battleforge. We need more deckbuilding RTSes in our lives.

    Probably asking a question that will never get answered by this news site because it doesn't fit the "EA hate" narrative, but

    Is the amount of studios that EA has closed disproportionately higher then other publishers? Or is it relatively the same or less?

    I kind of feel this is information that really needs to be provided to give us readers some balance in reporting.

      EA were the biggest publisher out there for a long time and during the 90s they acquired a lot of studios that had had successful games so they were recognizable when they were closed. Having more studios means you're proportionately going to close more as well, I guess.

      But the thing is, having successful games and running a successful studio aren't necessarily the same thing. For example, Molyneux said about Bullfrog that they were just in the right place at the right time with good games, and they had no idea what they were actually doing.

      Also it's not like EA bought them with the intent to kill them. A lot of the time, the core people that made those studios work left EA, and the studios got shut down because all their talent had left or because they were simply not very good at managing development when it came down to it (especially in a corporate structure where people were actually expecting them to work to deadlines, do pitches etc.). EA gets an unfair rep I think.

      Also they may have shut down the original Maxis location, but Will Wright isn't at EA any more anyway, the big Maxis breadwinner (the Sims) was moved to their Salt Lake City studio years ago, and they still have Maxis studios in Melbourne, Helsinki and California working on Maxis-related properties and everything, so saying they 'shut down' Maxis is a bit sensationalist.

      Pandemic Studios was a sad story.

      The first Mercs game was one of my all time favourite games, a real gem.

      (Don't know why this was a reply sorry, was just a post)

      Last edited 05/03/15 1:51 pm

    Pandemic being shutdown and killing my dreams of getting a Mercenaries 3 was probably the worst for me...

      Plus The Saboteur : Part Deux

        The juxtaposition of the hilariously Irish comments by the protagonist with the 'Achtung!' dialogue of the Germans was ridiculously sweet. One of my favourites was: Bishop:"Have you ever heard of atomic fission before, Sean?" Sean: "Meh...I never was one for poofy cocktails."

        I was actually playing the first one again last week... Despite looking old, the gameplay still holds pretty well.

      You could really tell the difference between Mercs I published by Lucas Arts and Mercs 2 published by EA.

      LA was impressed with Pandemics work and let them run wild while EA pulled it's usual unrealistic deadlines and hovered over their heads.
      It's no surprise the former Pandemic devs have no love for EA

      Also, the IP for many of the pre-EA Pandemic games are owned by other studios. They couldn't do another Star Wars Battlefront without LucasArts, or another Destroy All Humans without THQ.

    So I suppose the lesson here is; if EA buys out the company you work for, panic.

      The irony is that EA was established to be like United Artists pictures... giving developers more exposure and greater expression in the retail environment.

    EA is the grim reaper of the gaming industry.

    At least Syndicate is now free from EA for a limited time.

    EA : Exploitative Acquisitions

    Westwood was my favorite and not for the c&c games but mainly for Nox. Bullfrog also made the greatest kart racer in history "Crash Team Racing!"

    I'm not a supporter of EA Games, but I remember most of those old developers, Maxis being my favorite as they made awesome classic "Sim" games on the old PCs I grew up playing.
    And then they made Sim Tunes. And Bullfrog, were pretty damn neat. Urgh so sad to see these very talented developers shut down over the hands of some bigger obnoxious company. Are you listening to me, Rareware?

    Last edited 06/03/15 8:47 am

    EA games: thee most evil game developer ever, killing game studios since 2001 by hording all their profits to make only sports games, because killing other studios is for them a tuesday

    I think the biggest problem with a company like EA is games benefit from it's done when it's done method. But the Shareholders are demanding results, positive cash flow and a hot product for the specific periods of the year.

    I think this is the major contributer to the Patch it after they (us) purchased it model we have now days.

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