Reddit’s member ‘vertexnormal‘ – who is a former Maxis developer – has talked a bit about the closure of Maxis Emeryville, and shed some additional light to it. According to vertexnormal, Maxis Emeryville was closed because the SimCity series was it suffered from The Sims’ huge success. And even though the older SimCity games made a profit, they were not even close to what The Sims had achieved.
vertexnormal started by stating that Maxis closure was a result of its – perhaps underwhelming – returns.
“Money. It all comes down to money. EA as a corporation doesn’t share our sense of obligation out of sentimentality. Hence today’s announcement.” said vertexnormal and revealed why there was such a big gap between the previous and the latest parts of SimCity:
“The long gap is probably caused by several factors. First was that the expansion for SC4 didn’t print cash like The Sims was at the time. Sure it made money, but The Sims had a HUGE (I remember reading 16x) return on the investment. So it got deprioritized to make The Sims 2. Which again made huge returns.”
vertexnormal then explained EA’s greenlight gating process (regarding its projects) and concluded that the last SimCity game was in development for 3-4 years.
“So, during that 10 year wait there was almost 9 years of silence. 3 or 4 of those years had active development of the game that shipped, with another year or more of a small group of creatives. There were other attempts that never made the light of day, and products (Simcity Societies comes to mind) that didn’t deliver that ‘SimCity’ experience.”
As vertexnormal said, it all comes down to money. Regardless of that, vertexnormal closed his huge post by saying that EA is a great place to work nowadays.
“EA is actually a great place to work these days. In the past there were difficulties (I was part of the EA Spouse/class action) but a lot of that has turned around. They really do want to retain talent and minimize layoffs. Not everyone shares this experience, but I haven’t worked back-to-back weekends in almost a decade. EA has a really good benefits package, competitive pay, and a strong sense of progressive public responsibility. Maxis, in particular, the Sims side has what is probably the highest level of gender equality in the industry.”
All in all, Maxis closure was all about business and money. Which also could explain why the game featured small cities (lower budget and a tight dealine equals to a dumbed down game), and that awful always online DRM (that was later removed).