RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Mar 9th 2008 at 06:00:00 AM by (TraderJake)
Posted under Cynical Gamer, Feature, EA, Bioware

Maxis was a great company. Who didn't love SimCity 2000? Certainly, it's no Stunt Driver, but boy was the game fun. Could you get the Launch Arcos to actually launch? I couldn't. I suck. But hey, at least I could start major floods like the best SimCity players. Floods are something that all the new SimCity games surely miss. Bring them back Maxis. I beg you. Maxis was certainly a great company. Today, however, it is part of the behemoth known as EA. Sure, they still have reign to make potentially amazing games such as Spore, but let's look at the other, unfortunate studios. Take for example Westwood Studios, the original developer of the hugely successful Command and Conquer Series. Red Alert" quality game. Red Alert 2" also a quality game. So you'd think a studio with a series as successful as Command and Conquer would have been allowed to survive, right? Well, you'd be wrong. Instead EA ate them. No more. Completely assimilated. That's apparently what you get for screwing up on an offshoot of your major franchise. Thanks C&C Renegade. So, there went Westwood, and other studios have seen similar fates, becoming less autonomous and on occasion just not existing anymore. Bullfrog? What's that? They've been gone for a while.

EA likes to buy companies. In the past, they would assimilate the companies, but recently their CEO mentioned that this model just was not a good idea. Of course, this statement was made right around the acquisition of a high profile developer. You may know them as Bioware. They make good games. Most recently they released Mass Effect, and before that they had hits such as Jade Empire and Neverwinter Nights. Hugely successful. Congrats to them. But you got to wonder, will their success keep them from becoming a footnote in EA's corporate history? Sure, EA says that assimilation is a bad thing, but was that just said to placate the masses of people who find Bioware to be the be all end all of developers? (I'm looking at you, Tan) History shows they have no problem making developers part of the bigger EA. So, is that fate subject to Bioware? What could it take? A bad game? A whim of the CEO? Nothing? Who knows? But what I do know is that I'd take Mr. Riccitiello's comments with a grain of salt. It might make a future assimilation even more stinging than it should be.

So, why am I writing this article? Is it because there is a Blizzard Warning out right now and I am cooped up in the house, or is it because EA is trying to become ultra-mega EA upon the purchase of either Take Two or perhaps Ubisoft. Maybe it's both. But yeah, doesn't EA's Grand Theft Auto sound delightfully evil? The Evil Publisher, with what is considered by some to be the devil's game. How delightfully maniacal. Damn you EA for owning Maxis. You'll get my money for that. But, will you or will you not keep your future and new acquisitions autonomous? I certainly hope that you do, but at the same time I certainly will not keep my hopes up.

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Yes me and EA have had a long love/hate relationship to be sure. Why just a few hours ago I was playing EA Replay for the PSP. 14 games from a time when EA was a great developer/publisher and deserved the kudos they got.

I have to hold out hope that they've changed because BioWare anchors the blueline with Bethesda as the 2 premier Western RPG developers, with Obsidian relying heavily on BioWare made game engines. Without new RPGs from these two my interest in new gaming is diminished greatly. I may have to seek gaming refuge in the Tancave replaying my acquired horde of titles until the BioWare founders leave their own company to start over without EA looking over their shoulder.

I also have to hold out hope like many other gamers do, that Ubisoft will be able to hold them at 19.9% ownership and not a tenth more. The various Tom Clancy series, Prince of Persia, RedSteel, FarCry, Rayman, Myst, etc etc. could be in jeopardy, which is a looming threat that rivals Take-Two and it's franchises being bought as well.

Who needs Deathstars and Jack Thompsons when your name alone brings so much strong emotion?
I read a lot about so many people that hate EA for buying up smaller companies. But, EA's power is really in our hands. If we stop buying their games, they quit making money and can not afford to buy up any more companies.

Boycotting only works if you have options. Don't like Windows? Then try Linux or OSX. Don't like Ford? Then buy a Honda or a Chev. Don't like Madden '08? Then go fuck yourself because EA owns football now LOL. Sad but so true.

The buying of the exclusive license always comes before the game, and that's something the consumer has no control over. It's a vicious cycle, EA buys a contract, then the choice is already taken out of our hands in a board room meeting with suits and shareholders. So all you can do is wait half a decade and hope that someone else can outbid EA next time around (unlikely), or you can forget ever playing a non-EA NFL game. Even if everyone stopped buying Madden, EA still has the license and they still control it's usage even if they don't make the title themselves.

Also, if EA lost the license, then that company who has it will be in the position of power and fans are no better off. The fault here and the key to breaking the cycle is for these sports corporations and movie studios to start refusing to grant exclusive rights to anyone for an extended period of time. That's the only real way we'll have choices and options one year to the next.
I still don't think EA is that bad at all. They're no worse than Konami, Capcom, Ubisoft, or any other big publisher out there. It's just that people have some kind of grudge against them for being #1 (well not anymore) and trying to appeal to as many people as they can.

Granted, the whole Madden thing sucks, but it wasn't EA that wanted the exclusivity. The NFL wanted to go with one company, and EA had the best offer. 2K could just as easily have had it, but EA just offered the NFL what they wanted.
Thing is it's not just the NFL, EA also has exclusive rights to Nascar, and proudly sticker the box gloating about it. So I had to get EA's offering which left me disappointed beyond belief in comparison to Papyrus' offering. (yes despite being Australian I like Nascar games thanks to Daytona USA).

But I don't think it's this kind of thing, or the fact that until just recently EA was number 1 in town. I really do believe it is that we come to really like some developers then see them stolen away from us. I think if EA truly wants to prove they are turning over a new leaf they should recreate the stolen souls of Westwood, Bullfrog, etc.

Do I hate EA? No, just not a fan of recent years, but did love their original titles like Mutant League Football, Haunting, and Future Cop: LAPD.
I completley agree with the whole NASCAR thing, though I'm not a fan of the sport. I liked Paprus' NASCAR games as good circuit racing games. Kinda disappointed EA's the only game in town for that now.

I agree with you about not being a fan of EA's more recent years, but they are definitely trying to turn it around with great titles like Skate, Burnout Paradise, (helping out with) Rock Band, Army of Two, (helping distribute) The Orange Box, Dead Space, Spore, and others. Though I am still pissed they shut down EA Chicago.

Plus the other thing I like about EA is that they help to fund the Game Innovation Lab at USC's School of Cinema-Television. They have helped indie developers and students get a head start in the games industry and create titles like Cloud, flOw, Darfur Is Dying, and others.
EA could very well be getting back on track. Spore does look interesting and I do like their decision to get back into the Macintosh market. Perhapse EA falling from No.1 was the wake up call all of us gamers have waited for. I still hope they reform Westwood & Bullfrog though.
Can I have Westwood Studios back please. Sad

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