Why EA’s Closure of Maxis Feels So Wrong

The fact that Maxis will still be operating somewhat softens the blow, however, Maxis Emeryville have been around for 12 years and like aforementioned, are the force behind some of EA’s best titles.  Earlier all we had to go on were tweets from the employees, but now EA has officially responded on the closure, saying: 

“Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to our studios in Redwood Shores, Salt Lake City, Helsinki and Melbourne locations as we close our Emeryville location. Maxis continues to support and develop new experiences for current Sims and SimCity players, while expanding our franchises to new platforms and developing new cross-platform IP.” – EA

If you are familiar with the SimCity franchise then you will know that the latest installment in the series was somewhat of an embarrassment for Maxis…it didn’t go down well at all. Reviewers complained about bugs, gameplay issues, the initial inability to play the game offline, amongst other things.

We know that SimCity 2013 was a disappointment, but it is important that we don’t use that as an excuse to let this kind of move slide, mostly because the blame can’t be put entirely on their shoulders. It is important at this point to note that although Maxis are indeed the developers responsible for SimCity, EA is a publisher with a lot of power. Maxis’ creative integrity and freedom will have been challenged and controlled by the giant. Yet it was poor little Maxis who took the majority of the bad rap.

simcity

What’s MOST concerning and causing the most ire at this point, is that EA chose to announce the closure of Maxis during GDC 2015. Some speculate that the timing was deliberate, that EA was hoping to get past the press, that other big gaming news would drown it out and the backlash would be minimised.  Not to mention the fact that EA refused to comment on the matter until pressed by various media outlets.  In short, they never intended to make an official announcement about it, and wanted to push it under the rug.  

With one employee specifically stating he got word of being fired after speaking about The Sims during a GDC panel (in a tweet that has since been deleted), it’s easy to see why so many of us are crying foul.  Sure, Maxis will exist in some form, and the gaming franchises they’re best known for will continue, but the entire affair feels needlessly shady.  Sadly, developers and companies disappear all the time, but when EA makes a point to try and quietly shut down one of the larger ones that gamers have grown up with, it becomes a bigger deal.  

The treatment of development studios needs to improve, and we hope that those who’ve lost their jobs today will land back on their feet very quickly.  What do you guys think of the closure of Maxis and how it was handled?  Let us know your thoughts on this sad development in the comments below!

-Jordan