Fresh Off The Block


Mar
04
2015

EA calls time on SimCity studio Maxis Emeryville

With those 117 characters, SimCity lead gameplay scripter and designer Guillaume Pierre revealed the sad news that Electronic Arts has closed down SimCity studio Maxis Emeryville. After 12 long years, the company have apparently decided to close the studio in order to consolidate Maxis IPs into existing Maxis studios.

EA confirmed the closure and intentions with the following statement:

 

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.

These changes do not impact our plans for The Sims. Players will continue to see rich new experiences in The Sims 4, with our first expansion pack coming soon along with a full slate of additional updates and content in the pipeline.

 

Although Pierre had additionally tweeted “everyone’s out of a job” in reference to the studio’s employees, EA included a further paragraph in their statement in regards to the affected employees:

 

All employees impacted by the changes today will be given opportunities to explore other positions within the Maxis studios and throughout EA. For those that are leaving the company, we are working to ensure the best possible transition with separation packages and career assistance.

 

At this time, it’s unknown how many employees will be affected by the closure.

Maxis was founded by Will Wright and Jeff Braun in 1987, and was acquired by EA in 1997. The studios are well-known for their town-building and life-sim franchises, SimCity and The Sims respectively; but following the adoption of a new engine in their latest title, Sims 4, causing a large loss of content from that found in previous games; and a disastrous attempt to revive the SimCity franchise in 2013 as an online game which was plagued by numerous technical and design flaws as well as server instabilities, Maxis’ future under EA has found itself on an unfortunate downward spiral.

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    Previous Articles


    Jan
    13
    2014

    SimCity is finally getting an Offline Mode!

    When Simcity was first released a lot of players asked why it was an online-only game, questioning if this was really best for the play experience. EA answered this by saying that the way the game was designed and programmed meant that it wouldn't work in offline mode. This didn't stop fans asking for an offline mode though, and when modders proved that EA hadn't been truthful with their statement about the game not working offline, they were forced to admit it hadn't been part of the 'vision' for Simcity. Then Maxis said back in October that offline play was being considered. Now it's finally been officially confirmed: Simcity is getting that offline mode that many say should have been there from the beginning.

    In a post on the Maxis blog general manager Patrick Buechner reveals that Update 10 will bring offline to the game, a free download that will allow players to keep access to their previously downloaded content without the need for a connection. It will allow for play solo in regions or in a new single player mode with save files being stored locally to be loaded up and continued wherever, whenever the player wants. The leaderboards and global market will still be tied to the online play though.

    “We are in the late phases of wrapping up its development and while we want to get it into your hands as soon as possible, our priority is to make sure that it’s as polished as possible before we release it. So, until then… testing, testing and more testing” Buechner writes in the post.

     

    He also promises that a follow-up blog will outline the new update in more detail soon. Let's hope that the priority to polishing this update means that this will be well received and mercifully free of game-breaking bugs unlike a few past updates to Simcity.

    The blog post mentioned in this article is here.