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.