EA Worldwide Studios – The Final Nail for Maxis and BioWare?

EA’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Wilson, has today announced the formation of EA Worldwide Studios. Fine…so EA are having a bit of a “jiggle” around in what they called “An Organizational Update”. This update, Mr Wilson states, is “designed to strengthen our studios and technology platform”.

Mr Wilson also states that EA “have a responsibility to put our Players First” which may come as a surprise to most, however this appears to be just the normal, corporate, friendly rhetoric to lull readers into a false sense that EA is your buddy. EA is your friend. YOU can trust EA…

And then the details come creeping out… wrap your eyes around this:

The formation of EA Worldwide Studios.  At a time when players are engaged in games across more devices, the tenets of making great HD and mobile experiences are converging.  Our ability to blend our strengths to deliver amazing games across genres, geographies and platforms, in a networked environment, is central to our future success.  EA Worldwide Studios will bring together our top creative talent in all of our great studios to work on EA’s powerful brand portfolio and new IP.  EA Mobile and Maxis will join this central studios organization led by Patrick Söderlund.  Samantha Ryan, who will now report to Patrick, will continue to lead our Mobile and Maxis teams.  Sam will also take on leadership of BioWare, where her love for RPGs and experience with open-world adventure games is an outstanding fit to work with Aaryn Flynn and his great team.”

Shut the f…ront door EA. Are you kidding me?? There’s a popular image that’s been doing the rounds on social media of late and whenever I see it I think, “Yeah but it’s not like everything they do is awful. They just buy up good developers and put them under the wider EA Umbrella – like it or not, video games development is more than a business, it’s an industry and this will happen forever. If it means companies like Maxis and BioWare get more funding and better access to better games engines then more the better.”

Breathe Richy…breathe. But this EA? …How is anyone meant to trust you after this? Maxis – beloved developers of games like Sim City, The Sims and a personal favorite of mine – Sim Tower; and BioWare – even more beloved (by me at least) developers of Mass Effect, Dragon Age and one of the best games of all time – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – they deserve far better than this “hide in plain sight” style of assassination.

EA Worldwide, from this statement will essentially be this new beast, that has absorbed Maxis and EA Mobile, and will poach various bodies from the various subsidiaries of EA – like BioWare, DICE, Visceral Games and more. Samantha Ryan will be leading the Mobile and Maxis teams as well as taking on the leadership of BioWare as well – I’m sorry, but I don’t care how qualified she is or how talented she is, this is absurd! Mobile games, Maxis and BioWare are like as different as 3 studios could be. You may as well say she’s in charge of the EA Sports team developing FIFA as well for how much actual sense it makes. And it’s not like they’re little areas of EA…well Mobile perhaps, but Maxis and BioWare are enormous enough on their own to warrant individual leaders to steer and direct them with some focus. I can only hope that she does them both justice.

All of this does raise a question though. Is this formation of a central studio for EA, in EA Worldwide, sound the death knell of individual developers such as BioWare and Maxis and perhaps in time others like DICE? It would certainly appear that way at least for now. Hopefully more information will be forthcoming from EA in the near future but for all of the buddy, buddy, we’re all about putting players first and strengthening ourselves crap, this stinks…this stinks bad.

What do you guys think? Am I being paranoid or am I hitting the nail on the head? Let us know in the comments below, in the RGM Forums, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Oh and that image? This one. RIP old friends…