February 3, 2023

    Studios That EA Has Killed Over The Years

    Let’s just be clear; video games are a business. It is all good and well to be a creative, and to want to make good games, but at some point those games also have to make money. If a studio puts games out, yet isn’t making enough money to cover costs, what exactly is the point?

    On the other hand, enormous companies like EA are the other end of the spectrum. EA is well known to snap up smaller developers, strip of them of anything valuable, then unceremoniously shut them down. Which is to say; EA is about as unsentimental as it’s possible to be about the art of video game creation.

    Bullfrog Productions

    Bullfrog is recognised as a PC game pioneer, creating legendary titles such as Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate, and Theme Park. After a long 7 year relationship with EA, Bullfrog was eventually merged with the bigger studio. The merger came after Bullfrog attempted the development of Dungeon Keeper 3, but the project didn’t pan out for unspecified reasons.

    The merger itself wasn’t terrible per se, but what EA did with the studio’s creations is what gets gamers frustrated. EA made a mobile, microtransaction heavy version of Dungeon Keeper that all but defiled early PC game history.

    Westwood Studios

    Long before the average person could enjoy such technological wonders as mobile tennis betting there was early real-time strategy games. Westwood Studios gave birth to the real-time strategy Command and Conquer franchise, widely recognised as a spearhead of PC gaming. After multiple successes Westwood was acquired by EA in 1998, instantly giving the bigger studio decision making power.

    What EA decided was that the Command and Conquer franchise needed to be a first person shooter franchise instead. Westwood was given the task of turning their real-time strategy franchise into a shooter. The attempt failed and Westwood was closed. EA attempted to turn Command and Conquer into a mobile franchise. That also failed.

    Origin

    Amongst the biggest acquisition controversies in video game history, EA’s handling of Origin is a mess. Origin Systems created the highly popular Ultima franchise, with the series widely accepted as having created MMORPGs. Though, Ultima started out as just an RPG series, until Ultima Online took the franchise online.

    EA acquired Origin in 1992, decided Origin would focus exclusively on online titles, then cancelled all in-development projects after Ultima 9 did not meet expectations. Most tragic, as pointed out by many disgruntled fans, is that Harry Potter Online was amongst the games cancelled. Origin was then delegated by EA to work exclusively on Ultima Online.

    Most controversial of all is that EA then used Origin’s branding for its online distribution storefront. The storefront was immediately criticised on multiple levels, with perhaps the most controversial being EA’s decision to make Crysis 2 exclusive to Origin.

    Meanwhile, the original founder of Origin, Richard Garriott, left to start his own studio. Origin as a development company was shuttered in 2004. Astonishingly Ultima Online is still up and running to this very day.