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Maxis Dev Shares his Thoughts About EA’s Development Process
Just a couple of days ago, Maxis EmeryVille was shut down by EA. The studio was behind The Sims franchise and currently in the middle of The Sims 4 development plan. Maxis recently announced a new expansion for the game but fans should rest assured as its development won’t be affected by the shutdown.
EA isn’t known for its positive business practices. In fact, on more than one occasion it was voted as the Worst Company in America. EA presents a strict development cycle to its developers, higher-ups at the company are more concerned about making money than making a great game for fans to enjoy.
There’s nothing wrong with making money, but their approach to making games is questionable. On Reddit, a Maxis employee revealed more about EA’s development process. Sharing his thoughts about EA and its announcement to close Maxis, he said the following:
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.
He further adds:
EA has adopted a greenlight gating process. Where by with little or no capital invested they have a few highly talented senior designers/creative types come up with the framework of a game. They develop what they can as proof of concept, usually simple gameplay prototypes and concept art, which is then presented to EA. This sets up a series of gates and reviews whereby they get more money and manpower as it seems necessary and the time to work on the gameplay, engine, and artistic style.
Over the years, EA has received a lot of criticism due to the way they handle Maxis games. Things really got bad after their botched release of SimCity back in 2013.
Players complained about the size of the cities and the title’s DRM policy which required it to be always online. The developer says there was no way of changing it after EA made the decision.
Once locked into ‘online-only’ there was no way of changing it. People complained that the cities were too small but there was no way to address that without compromising the numbers and forecasts when the game was sold to EA’s corporate overseers. EA can’t be negotiated with at this level, you can’t change their mind, you REALLY have to fight to get dates changed etc.
In the end, Maxis developer said he doesn’t blame EA for its process of development. It is meant to reduce the level of risk while securing a decent chunk of profit. He also says “EA is actually a great place to work these days” as they offer great benefits and salary.
No one has a personal vendetta with EA, but when you’re releasing products like Battlefield 4 and SimCity; fingers will be raised. It’s not only EA, not many companies out there appreciate the artistic value of a video game. Especially when it comes to AAA games.
It’s one of the reasons why we are seeing the rise of indie games. Titles like Resogun, Transistors and many more are doing better in the market compared to some AAA games.