Let's Pour One Out For Westwood Studios, Creators Of The Real-Time Strategy Genre

Of all the studios Electronic Arts has bought over the decades, few were as talented or important to the history of video games as Westwood Studios.

Yet despite essentially pioneering the real-time strategy genre as we know it, creating one of the most popular franchises of all time and doing not one, not two, but three excellent movie adaptations, Westwood no longer exists.

Popcap, when you're done counting your money, you may want to bear that in mind.

Westwood was formed in 1985 by Brett Sperry and Louis Castle, and spent its early years porting console games to the personal computers of the day. It would be three years before its first original game, RPG Mars Saga, was published by Electronic Arts in 1988.

Westwood first began to make a name for itself with a pair of games based on the Battletech universe. In 1988 it released BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception, and followed it up in 1990 with BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge, a small-scale strategy game that was mostly played out in real-time.

If you can do a good shooter, though, then turn around and do a good RPG and then a good adventure game, you're one of the greats. That kind of variety shows that the studio is strong at a fundamental level, able to understand the nitty-gritty of game design and apply it to anything, regardless of the genre or setting.

Westwood displayed this kind of versatility like no other developer. From strategy gaming to role-playing, adventure games to platforming, licensed adaptations to its own IP, nearly everything it touched turned to gold. And it's that dependability, that knowledge that Westwood could take anything and make a great game out of it, that I miss the most.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


Comments

    A Westwood article without a single mention of Command and Conquer or Red Alert? Those series were probably the worst hit in the great "EA buys all good companies and fucks them over" conquest.

      Kind of appreciated that factor. It was a case of showing 'Hey they DID do other great games before their best known ones...'

    One of my fave Westwood games was NOX, that was a fantastic RPG game. With great gameplay and a great storyline, except when you replay the game it was the same thing over and over again. None the less it was awesome.

      Still got my Nox CD's :) Was a damn fine game, and as you pointed out.. a bit repetitive. Westwood in the day really did some great games, shame they didnt last the test of time.

    Forget popcap - Bioware should keep that in mind...

    Stuff that. They made the Hand of Fate series. One of the best point-and-click adventure series EVER.

    While Westwood is no more, I wonder where it's employees have moved on to.

    It would be interesting to see what games they're working on now and who with (because let's face it, they'll definitely still be making games).

      For the most part Petroglyph Games, that said if their latest content is anything to go by, the years have not been kind to them.

    This article started well... then it was over... and I hadn't learned anything =(

    Surely Westwood is worth more than a couple of short paragraphs =\

    Given; I already know the Westwood story very well... but doesn't mean I don't enjoy reliving it :p

      Have a look at the 'All your history are belong to us' series on youtube.

    Man I remember the first time I played Dune 2, I was a Dune junky when I was younger, harrassing my parents at age 7 into letting me watch the David Lynch film (which with childhood eyes I enjoyed quite a lot).

    But Dune 2 was the grand daddy of RTS games, then Command and Conquer came around and blew everybodys minds, it was huge when it first came out. It was the Call of Duty of its day, every one with a computer seemed to be playing it.

    Will never forget westwood. Red Alert 2 was (and still is) one of my favourite games of all time.

    So where are these gents now? Are they still working in the industry?

    From memory many of the Westwood guys went and formed Petroglyph games. (Universe at War, Starwars: Empires at War etc) Not quite what they used to be :\

      Weren't those the guys who hung around after EA aquired them, though?
      What about the two-thirds of the studio who jumped ship when the EA buyout went through?
      That was when the studio started sliding, what happened to them?

    Great company... but, they really went off the deep end by the time they were closed.

    Hasn't EA started up the C&C franchise again with Victory Games?

    I think a their adaptation of the Bladerunner franchise is also worth noting. It was a great point and click adventure that, for the time, looked fantastic and with branching story lines had tremendous replay value.

      It looked damn pretty and was full of atmosphere, but was no where interactive enough for my liking as far as adventure games go.

    I thought most of the guys still worked on the CnC games as EA Los Angeles.

    Personally Blade Runner and Dune 2 were my favourite games by Westwood.

    More like Partial Recall... amirite??

    Such a shame these guys were ever shut down.

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