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EA Shuts Down Pandemic Studios, Cuts 200 Jobs

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the say-goodnight-folks dept.

Businesses 161

lbalbalba writes "Electronic Arts is shutting down its Westwood-based game developer Pandemic Studios just two years after acquiring it, putting nearly 200 people out of work. 'The struggling video game publisher informed employees Tuesday morning that it was closing the studio as part of a recently announced plan to eliminate 1,500 jobs, or 16% of its global workforce. Pandemic has about 220 employees, but an EA spokesman said that a core team, estimated by two people close to the studio to be about 25, will be integrated into the publisher's other Los Angeles studio, in Playa Vista.' An ex-developer for Pandemic attributed the studio's struggles to poor decisions from the management."

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161 comments

Good (-1, Flamebait)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168294)

Pandemic studios never made anything worth having, and all their crap seemed to be loaded with what might be called EA problems. I won't miss EA Game Originally Produced by Another Divsion III: the dead horse chronicles.

Re:Good (1, Interesting)

captjc (453680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168432)

The Star Wars Battlefront PC games were pretty good. The console ports were decent too.

Re:Good (-1, Redundant)

captjc (453680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168448)

The Star Wars Battlefront PC games were pretty good. The console ports were also decent IMO.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

almechist (1366403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168460)

Pandemic studios never made anything worth having

I beg to differ. Battlezone 2 was and still is one of the best games ever made, easily one of the most immersive games around, one that never gets stale, which is maybe why it still has a loyal following. What other game from 10 years ago still has new mods coming out, to say nothing of substantial revisions to the original game done by some of the original programmers working on their own time?

Re:Good (3, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168526)

What other game from 10 years ago still has new mods coming out, to say nothing of substantial revisions to the original game done by some of the original programmers working on their own time?

4x4 Evo2 http://vales.com/evo2/default.asp [vales.com]

And yes, I know you were being rhetorical, but you did ask.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169248)

What other game from 10 years ago still has new mods coming out, to say nothing of substantial revisions to the original game done by some of the original programmers working on their own time?

Are you serious??

Freespace 2: http://scp.indiegames.us/
Baldur's Gate & Baldur's Gate II: http://pocketplane.net/mambo/ http://gibberlings3.net/
There also was a very large unofficial patch for Arcanum, including a high resolution mod which saw recent development.

And those are only the games I recently played...

Re:Good (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169736)

command and conquer. Though I'd say a better comparison would be how many people are willing to buy the game today, vs how much effort the community has put into the game.

Re:Good (-1, Redundant)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168540)

The Star Wars Battlefront PC games were pretty good. The console ports were decent too.

Re:Good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168708)

I heard they had decent console ports on Star Wars Battlefront PC games, which was a decent game, too.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168738)

The ONLY thing Pandemic ever made that was good was Battlezone II : Combat Commander. Everything else was fluff.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168874)

You...are...so...wrong

  Destroy All Humans 1 & 2 is damn good game series.

Mercenaries 1 & 2 is also a good games.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Pouvoir (947689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169062)

Full Spectrum Warrior was quite innovative and in my opinion, one of the best games last generation. I also crack out Battlezone 2 once in a while, and few games have me coming back after such a long time. Unfortunately, it does seem they missed the boat a bit for this gen, but the Saboteur looks quite promising. You may not like the games they have produced, but celebrating the loss of hundreds of jobs is unwarranted. It must be great to celebrate years of work and dedication with a pink slip as your product is about to hit the market, especially with the holidays coming up.

Re:Good (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169842)

Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2 says you are wrong.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169940)

yeah but were they decent?

Re:Good (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170046)

Star Wars Battlefront I has shit play control and crap camera behavior (not to mention generally shitty graphics.) Star Wars Battlefront II eliminated everything good about the first game (huge maps, more vehicles) but gave great play control and much better camera behavior. It's hard to say either of them is really a fantastic game; if you put the two of them together, you'd have one fantastic title. I have both, can no longer bring myself to play SWBF I as I always feel like it's cheaped me to death, but play SWBF II occasionally when I just want to get in some killin'. It has perhaps the best play control of any console FPS (at least that I've played so far) but the scope is a bit pathetic, especially since the second game is ostensibly based on the same engine, so there is NO excuse for not including all original maps. The original had far MORE maps, also; it's not just that it had a lot of good ones that there's no good counterpart for in the sequel.

So yes, although SWBF II has good play control, I would say both it and the original are mediocre at best.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170140)

Yeah, that's basically my experience with them. I still install & play the first one sometimes, mostly to play single-player with bots and do Hoth over and over, or to play the galactic conquest mode or whatever it's called. It's not a great game, but come on, Hoth!

II was terrible, though. Maybe it's better multiplayer?

Hmmmm. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168298)

Hopefully, the 25 will re-consider this idea and grab a number of the others to be laid off and approach another VC to start a new company. Heck, if smart, try to create 2 new companies out of it.

Re:Hmmmm. (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168430)

I can't imagine there's a ton of VC floating around right now, and even less so for folks coming out of an unsuccessful (as of late) studio.

Not to say that has anything to do with the developers, mind you.

Re:Hmmmm. (1)

slarrg (931336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169328)

I guess they would find plenty of funding if they go to China and create a game where you, as a loyal communist, go forth to improve the lives of your fellow citizens.

EA (5, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168302)

EA destroys and corrupts whatever it touches. A developer being bought by EA is the kiss of death for all their franchises, IMO. The classic example is Westwood Studios and a series that was very dear to me, Command & Conquer.

At least we'll always have new versions of Madden!

Re:EA (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168360)

EA destroys and corrupts whatever it touches. A developer being bought by EA is the kiss of death

But I thought that they bring out the whips and chains first??

Re:EA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30170078)

Naahh... They kiss you and bring you flowers first...

Re:EA (1)

CRC'99 (96526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168420)

I agree. The C&C series are what made me love RTS type games. C&C, Red Alert etc and the classics of a game studio who just do it right. Sadly, that was killed by EA and nobody has really stepped up to fill the gap :(

Re:EA (5, Interesting)

Oewyn (1526739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168614)

While i've been a fan of RTSs since the days of the brotherhood of nod, it does seem to be much more difficult to find good ones these days.

In particular co-op RTSs seem to be non-existent and most that do support it seem like it was added at the last moment on a whim. If you're interested in a game that has more focus on the S part of RTS, and excellent co-op opportunities, i recommend AI War: Fleet Command [arcengames.com] . It's an indy game written by a developer who actually cares about it's playerbase(No i'm not that developer, but I do play the game), and makes free DLC available almost every week with bug fixes, gameplay improvements, new units, etc. The gameplay is very asymmetrical. The enemy has already taken over the galaxy and is now distracted with other pursuits. The more planets you capture and the more structures you destroy the more annoyed the enemy becomes, sending larger and more powerful fleets against you. You can't go recklessly taking over every planet you encounter because the enemy would soon be mighty pissed and send everything it has against you.

It's not for everyone, however you should at least check it out if you're finding the RTS platform has been lacking as of late.

Re:EA (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169846)

The dev of that game lurks around /. too.

Re:EA (3, Insightful)

Nossie (753694) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170266)

One word:

BULLFROG.

Re:EA (5, Insightful)

Geekner (1080577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168442)

This shouldn't come as a suprise, look at Pandemic's release history [wikipedia.org] . While there are a few good games here, most of them are quite average to mediocre. They seem to release little other than sequels and middle-of-the-genre titles. I doubt their sales records were spectacular. Thus, when EA started to hurt, they went to cut the least profitable studio.

I wonder what will happen to their next game, The Saboteur, which is due out in 3 weeks. It is worth noting that they have no other projects announced recently, perhaps this was long on the horizon.

Re:EA (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168862)

For the most part the game is done. Any necessary patches, etc. are being handled by the 25.

Re:EA (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168470)

And I can't tell you how hard I'm hoping Bioware is the exception to this trend.

Besides, the TFA (second link) clearly points the finger at Pandemic's internal management, rather than EA.

Re:EA (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168516)

I do. I'm hoping they could "reform" and be out from EA's thumb. Great company, and being bought up by EA was the worst thing that could happen.

Unfortunately if this happens, they loose much of the IP I would really consider to be theirs in the first place.

Re:EA (2, Insightful)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168700)

Except that the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights IP is tied to the D&D license - from Hasbro.

Knights of the Old Republic? LucasArts and Hasbro.

They'd lose Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Jade Empire - and bunch of technology, naturally.

Re:EA (3, Interesting)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169618)

What's interesting is that Bioware merged with Pandemic before being bought by EA. Seemed odd that an RPG developer would get together with an FPS developer like that. Also seems strange that if Pandemic was so poorly managed as indicated in other comments that an amazingly well-run company like Bioware would merge with it. Another oddity here is that Riticello, the current CEO of EA, was one of the people who orchestrated with Bioware/Pandemic merger before EA acquired them and he became CEO.

Given all these facts the closure of Pandemic could be a deep betrayal or someone getting their freedom after a big payout. Ah, the world of game business.

At any rate, I keep reminding people that Bioware is now owned by EA. Other studios manage to put out a few good games before they're killed off by EA, too. So, keep hoping the streak lasts.

Re:EA (2)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168492)

Yup...I miss the old Westwood so much. Command & Conquer was such a great series before EA got their hands on it. I was actually recently playing over the original again after downloading it from an abandonware site*, and it's still far better than most of the recent ones. Generals isn't bad, though the whole 'generals abilities' thing and unlimited cashflow buildings take a lot out of the game. But C&C3 and RA3 are both complete garbage. Such a huge loss...

I still remember playing on...what the hell was it called? Westwood chat? Whatever the hell it was, I remember playing those games online over dial-up back when I was only 8 years old. Ahh, the good old days :)

And nurple maps...and how incredibly easy it was to mod those games - hell, even at 8 years old I could figure out how to create new units just by editing the rules.ini file. I did always prefer Red Alert though, mostly for the skirmish play.

*I downloaded it only because it was more convenient. I do actually own the game - 3 copies of it in fact. Two of them are the original DOS version, the third is C&C Gold.

Re:EA (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168668)

I keep hearing "RA3 and TW are so horrible!" but nobody ever states a good reason. Is it because they're so polished? Having "big name" actors in the cutscenes? What is it?

I've been playing C&C games since Tiberian Sun, and I like Tiberium Wars and Red Alert 3 better than the previous games. Plus, come on, Tim Curry! TIM CURRY!

Re:EA (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168740)

The balance for one. They're too easy. I beat TW in under a week. Yet I've played the original countless times and I still don't think I've ever actually beaten it without taking advantage of game bugs ('sandbag trick' anyone?). It's actually a _challenge_. TW and RA3 are just a grind. Sure, the missions had a bit more depth to them - a few more objectives and larger enemy bases, but in the end it all boiled down to building a shitload of one unit and storming the enemy with it. What fun is that? That shit doesn't work in the original games. There is no one unit that can kill everything. Mammoth tanks come close, but their speed makes them quite vulnerable to a small team of infantry. And hell, the game just plain lasts longer. I've had _single missions_ in the original C&C or Red Alert that have taken longer to beat than _the entire TW or RA3 games_. And I'm not even talking about the final missions - hell, I've had mission 6 for the soviets in RA (pretty sure it's 6...) last me a week. And yet they were still fun to play.

Re:EA (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168892)

Interestingly one of my pet peeves with the original C&C as well as most RTS games is that they are way too easy for about 80% of the game and painfully hard for the remaining 20%, nothing like getting stuck halfway through a game because you just can't get past some ridiculously hard level (bonus points if it's one of those C&C trademark "fuck this strategy shit, let's just give the player two engineers and a commando" levels that are basically squad tactics and involve no large-scale strategy whatsoever).

Of course, most RTS games would fit better into the non-existent genre Realtime Tactics since that's what most of them are.

Oh well, at least the older games didn't focus so much on "LEVEL HAS STARTED HERE'S SOME ACTION AND EXPLOSIONS!!". If WWII had been like most RTS games are these days it would have consisted of all involved parties gathering in northeastern France and blowing each other to bits for three or four days.

/Mikael

Re:EA (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168966)

You may try the original shogun:tw on very hard, which is impossible 120% of the time due to the huge cheating of computer players

Joke aside, I've yet to find strategy games that are actually balanced and fun. Total Annihilation came close, and is one of my all ever favorites. Still I'd like some strategy game which is based on what a war could actually be.

Most of the mission on every RST out there could be lose by the player in the first two seconds if the AI was truly playing a competitive game. I mean, it always allow you to establish a fully working base, usually going from the lowest level builders. A one unit rush may well end the player resistance once and for all!

I put some hope on RUSE but for now it's only a concept game, so meh.

Re:EA (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169282)

Try Warzone 2100 [wz2100.net] , free as in beer and speech. Massively configurable units, a tech tree that's bigger than the NSA's, artillery based combat, and if you don't like it, you've got the source and can pimp it up.

Re:EA (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169396)

yes I've played. It seems to me that it boils down to building the most powerful units in the largest quantity. not that I didn't enjoyed it. I liked how it got around the problem of having a small base within the enemy territory, without resorting to a dumb defense only AI.

I think that the problem may be that most rts focus on the battle phase of war, which coincidentally is also the less meaningful. as they say it's the planning that win the war, not the actual skirmishes, while europa universalis ditch it altogether. The total war series gives it a shot, and that are the games I enjoy most; still they have laughable AI that resort on a "everyone on the player" strategy, even when playing nice with them, preferring suicidal resistance over protectorate, never aiding in alliances and generically stabbing the player at every step.

Re:EA (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169788)

It seems to me that it boils down to building the most powerful units in the largest quantity.

That's a bit trite. Given the vast tech tree and weapon-vs-target modifiers in Warzone 2100, "most powerful" is largely subjective. What's more "powerful", super-heavy tracked bodies with heavy cannons, packs of light-bodied VTOLS with tank-killer missiles, or swarms of cyborgs with lasers? And how about the decision whether to build mobile units, or to go hog wild on building long ranged fixed artillery and then creep spotters forward?

It might be possible to win the campaign using nothing but heaviest-tanks-with-heaviest-guns, but you'll lose a lot of them to defences and tank-killer units. Warzone 2100 rewards you for using mixed forces of tanks, VTOLs, AA, artillery, repair units, spotters and cyborgs and deploying them intelligently against appropriate targets.

The huge maps also provide multiple choke points and opportunities to build forward repair/fire support outposts, rather than the C&C variants where you generally turtle up just your main base and then break one or two decisive choke points.

If you've just dipped into Warzone 2100, I'd recommend giving it a second look. There's a lot of depth in there.

Re:EA (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169410)

and even better even the players of the PC version freely admit that the PSone port (simultaenous release on both platforms believe it or not) is the exact same game, running at lower resolution. It's 3D so it runs better on the PSone than the C&C ports do and you can have your units behave intelligently, like returning for repair when they get heavily damaged. It also supports the PSone mouse with UI changes if you plug it in. The briefing lady's voice is VERY familiar to SOCOM players.

Re:EA (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169758)

If you liked TA, give Supreme Commander a try... some really innovative game play mechanics were introduced.
(SupCom was created by the same guy(s) that created TA)

SupCom 2 is supposedly coming out soon, and as a bonus will be able to run on a 360. (meaning that a dual core should easily be able to churn out a good 2000+ unit battle)

Re:EA (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168706)

Westwood and Origin both hung themselves with the rope that EA gave them. Pandemic did the same, as the second link in this story makes clear. All this shows is that when you give people a bigger budget, the problems don't go away, they get bigger too. It has nothing to do with EA buying the studio; having EA around to bankroll the studio just makes the death spiral that much more spectacular.

Re:EA (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169036)

Yep. In recent times also Mercenairies 2 was one of the best coop games I've ever played, if not the best, the free world with so many vehicles and toys to play with just opened so many doors to play around- just doing fun stuff like sticking the cruise missile target beacon onto the side of your friends helicopter and watch him fly around with a cruise missile chasing him was pretty funny. Attacking the enemy base by stealing a large enemy helicopter then slowly dismantling their base by airlifting all their tanks off the edge of a cliff one by one rather than going in guns blazing was pretty funny too.

I'm concerned what'll happen now- will EA do away with the EA authentication servers which you have to connect to to be able to play coop even on the XBox where being connected to live should do? I'm guessing this likely means no Mercenairies 3 either which is sad.

Pandemic produced quite a few good games, it's sad that it's yet another company EA has raped, because well, rape really is the most relevant term to describe what EA does to companies it takes over.

Re:EA (2, Informative)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169138)

I think the worst example is Origin, instantly after EA bought Origin things went down the gutters, I will never forgive EA for killing Ultima the game series which is the grandfather of all western rpgs.
Without Ultima 7 there neither would be any Gothic or anything from Bethestha.

Re:EA (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169980)

Amen, brother. The Avatar is dead. Long live the Avatar.

Re:EA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169446)

Also Wing Commander.

Re:EA (1)

herojig (1625143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169776)

At least we'll always have new versions of Madden!

Go Madden! The Broncos won this year on the iPhone...it could only happen @ EA...

Obligitory (1)

Osmosis_Garett (712648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168422)

I guess EA found its own way to take care of the current pandemic, without having to wait in line for

So EA wanted to drop the hammer on a pandemic (1)

platkat (885673) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168466)

perhaps they thought they were doing public service.

Re:So EA wanted to drop the hammer on a pandemic (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168626)

What was Pandemic's first game anyway? Battlezone 2? A disappointment like that was a clear indicator of the sort of garbage that studio would put out.

Unfortunately, it seemed like they may have actually been getting better as they made more games.

Re:So EA wanted to drop the hammer on a pandemic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169836)

BZ2 is still in active development by fans and some of the original devs after 10 years -- patches come out a few times a year, the modding community is thriving, and so on. You can't say that of a lot of other games from that era!

About EA.... It's EA. They do this. I'd like to know to whose benefit.

Re:So EA wanted to drop the hammer on a pandemic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30170080)

Did you even play that game?
I was on Pandemic's forums during the development of BZ2 and beta tested it. The BZ2 team listened to complaints/sugggestions and actually did something about it. BZ2 has great gameplay, physics and graphics, it's only fault was being pushed out to the shelves before all the kinks were worked out. Talk smack about BZ2 again and I will kick your ass! ;)

LONG LIVE PANDEMICIA!!
-Biotoxin69

They are NOT hurting for funding (5, Insightful)

PaladinAlpha (645879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168468)

This makes sense. EA is strapped for cash. It's not like they just designed, developed, leased, furnished, and staffed a couple of storefronts on prime real estate to advertise one game to a limited audience [kotaku.com] .

Companies don't know how to manage money anymore. Long term gains (like a productive group with experience working together) are traded for short term gains (advertising gimmicks) so often that nowadays it's just the expected mode of operation.

I don't know too much about Pandemic Studios in particular, but I've been hearing about a LOT of layoffs at EA, and at the same time it's almost like they are throwing money away on brand placement. No company ever thinks to improve their bottom line by steadily generating quality product anymore. The money that goes into solid development is always the dregs of money first given to analysts and marketers.

I'm normally not a foaming-at-the-mouth anti-establishment labor-theory humanist, but things like this (especially with the oft-cited 'global economy') really and truly make me sick.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168500)

To be fair, there is very little evidence that EA could, in fact, improve their bottom line by steadily generating quality product. Since they've never managed to steadily generate quality product, we'll never know.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1)

Verunks (1000826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169372)

To be fair, there is very little evidence that EA could, in fact, improve their bottom line by steadily generating quality product. Since they've never managed to steadily generate quality product, we'll never know.

actually EA changed quite a lot in the past few years, take a look at need for speed for example, they were making the same shit every year, this year they changed the developer team and they probably made the best racing game ever, second only to gran turismo. They also produced other great games made by DICE(mirror's edge, battlefield) or BioWare(mass effect, dragon age)

now take a look at activision, they fucked up pc players with no dedicated servers, if that wasn't enough they asked steam to ban/revoke every key bought from sites like g2play, just because you can get them at half the price, like they didn't made enough money with the game already(550 millions $ in 5 days)

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1)

Elfboy (144703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168576)

No company ever thinks to improve their bottom line by steadily generating quality product anymore. The money that goes into solid development is always the dregs of money first given to analysts and marketers.

I'm normally not a foaming-at-the-mouth anti-establishment labor-theory humanist, but things like this (especially with the oft-cited 'global economy') really and truly make me sick.

Blizzard... but they are the major exception to the rule (the Pixar of games?)

Other than that I agree completely about the 'global economy' bs. Not every job is 'cog' job despite management's wet dream fantasies to make it so....

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (0, Troll)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168798)

Bliz who routinely pisses off their fan base with lengthy downloads, server outages, changes to items and abilities and the new horrible idea of merging their WoW accounts into the battlenet system. To be perfectly honest, I am speaking as a person who was kicked from the server at 11:18pm 11-19-09 while doing the AB BG, and when attempted to log on, was informed my password no longer works. Checked my email and see a note saying here is notification your password has been changed, and instead of having a link to go to if you did not authorize the change, it tells you to contact billing if you have a problem. tl;dr: blizzard sucks cocks

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168858)

Maybe you should channel that energy you put into hating Blizzard into securing your stuff enough so that you don't get hacked instead.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1)

Elfboy (144703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169054)

Blizzard is more than the WoW MMOG crack market that is their most recent creation... Starcraft, Diablo, Warcraft etc...

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169548)

WoW is the NASCAR of MMOs

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169694)

Is that analogy supposed to mean something to anybody here?

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170218)

Blizzard is more than the WoW MMOG crack market that is their most recent creation... Starcraft, Diablo, Warcraft etc...

True enough, but those other franchises haven't had games released in years. I'm looking forward to that changing. Oh Diablo III, you can't get released soon enough.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169228)

They and Bioware only have their freedom as long as every game sells well, as soon as they produce even one stinker, they are screwed.
Happened in the past as well, in case of Origin it was even worse, EA started to talk itself into the decisions even before the first game under their umbrella was released, they did not stand a chance in the first place.
Blizzard is in the same position at Activision as Bioware is in EA, as long as they meet the expectations they have a more or less free reign (although I still think the latest DLC stunt they did in Dragon Age was due to EAs influence) but as soon as one of their games does not even lose money but only sells mediocre then watch the middle management of EA moving in slicing the company with stupid decisions to death.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168776)

To support your point: http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/38350

I just don't think you've gone deep enough in your criticism.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (3, Insightful)

wynterwynd (265580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168812)

I don't disagree with your stance on EA, but I don't think that EA spending this money on the storefronts in the article is really a big waste.

It's a marketing test bed, basically. Some junior executive somewhere "synergized" the apple store concept and made a couple stores to test out EA Active on their target market, namely moms whose kids have Wiis (I have no doubt these stores were in malls), and to get some feedback on the product. The market for that is gigantic and right now there's only Wii Fit and a handful of others to tap into it.

I don't think a 6 months worth of rent and cheap labor at two locations is more expensive than a large focus study to improve your product or a massive blanket ad campaign that your market won't identify with, each costing millions. Plus their results will be more real and targeted.

And I think 6 months is a good estimate; they won't be around long, I'm sure. Note the decor from the pic in the Kotaku article. Note the lack of permanent fixtures. Stylishly minimalist, yes. Moves out easily, too.

EA has to keep trying things like this. It is a giant lumbering beast, borne of an economic boom and grown under those times of plenty. It consumed its kin and grew more massive still, and now it is a large, unwieldy thing and times are getting slim. It must feed on new cash crops, or limbs begin to wither and fall away. So you'll likely see more gimmick attempts to make a signature brand or one-up breakout successes, any attempt to sustain the creature. I don't think they'll succeed. EA doesn't make games anymore, they just buy people who do.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169398)

It's actually one month of rent (Nov 15 - Dec 14) in two locations. About on par with a typical ad run. From the EA Sports Active website:

The EA SPORTS Active Pop-up Training Centers will be in San Francisco and Boston from November 15 – December 14, 2009. Visitors to the EA SPORTS Active Pop-up Training Centers will enjoy a personalized introduction to EA SPORTS Active from our EA SPORTS Active Trainers at one of our state-of-the-art demo stations, who will show them how to create a custom workout specific to their fitness level and goals, as well as how to use the in-game journal to track healthy nutrition and fitness habits.

Consumers who already own a Wii system and want to explore the Active products further in the privacy of their homes can borrow either EA SPORTS Active Personal Trainer or More Workouts from the lending library.

        San Francisco Location: 39 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

        Boston Location: 156 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

Locations open:
12:00 pm to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday
10:00 am to 6:00 pm Saturday - Sunday

Sustainability? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168842)

Is this model sustainable? With the number of expansions, absorbed companies and conquest, it looks like EA is turning into the GM of gaming. they may be healthy now but what about in a year? 5 years? 10 years? It's like cutting off your pinky to lose weight. It's gone, and never coming back.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1)

sqwishy (927732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168856)

This makes sense. EA is strapped for cash.

Also, a Spore movie [kotaku.com] . And I think they're making one for Dead Space and maybe The Sims.

Re:They are NOT hurting for funding (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169266)

Don't forget they are also firing the ENTIRE current C&C team [kotaku.com] so they can bring in some guy who is gonna "transform Command and Conquer with a new digital model that is going to re-ignite the fan base for this franchise."

Damn, does this company LOVE the buzzword bingo or what? WTF is a "new digital model"? I'm shocked someone didn't throw synergy in there while they were at it. They are also bringing in somebody to "reinvent" the MOH series, so expect that to suck some major balls as well. Its sad that all the companies I used to love have been eaten by the EA monster. Lets just hope that EA will go tits up and the IP ends up with a dozen companies that can actually do something with them.

As it is now EA should call themselves "The Symantec of Video Games!" since they seem to have embraced the Symantec "Buy a product and turn it into poo" mantra. Anybody remember when Norton was actually good? Now we get to watch EA butcher all our favorite gaming memories in a failing attempt to "maximize profit potential". This is like watching your favorite TV show get the Friday night death slot because the new PHB running the show is too dumb to get it.

Damn it, EA... (1)

nuclearpenguins (907128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168532)

Sell me the Origin Systems IPs. I'll pay top dollar for them so you can keep your current employees employed.

I'll then bankroll a proper Wing Commander game since you people don't seem interested in doing it.

Re:Damn it, EA... (4, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168634)

EA really is the touch of death.

They suck up a company and intellectual property, they cut the budgets, take over management of the game, and demand a copy be on the shelves six months from three months ago, whether it's ready to go or not. They'll release an alpha build if that's what it takes, then they'll take it out of the ass of the company they bought when the game fails. They never take responsibility for their actions.

I pray EA never comes out with a Wing Commander game. The Command and Conquer days have long since been over, the dream has been killed off. I don't want that to happen to Wing Commander. From my experiences with the SNES Wing Commanders and the Privateer games, I hold those sacred in my heart. EA doesn't need to fuck those up, either, but neither will they sell the IP in fears that it might conflict with Madden games.

Re:Damn it, EA... (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168876)

The galling part is that EA will rush to a fire sale and gobble up any IP they can get their hands on and then go out and produce 5 or 6 new series that are similar to the IPs that they just threw hundreds of thousands at. Its like someone there confused patent with trademark.

Re:Damn it, EA... (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169210)

The bad thing is, all the yearly sports titles keep EA afloat without them they would have folded a long time ago, but there are literally millions out there in the world who will buy the same game every year on and on just for the updated statistics.
Thanks to those idiots we have to live with EA and thanks to the idiots buying the next incarnation of guitar hero every year, Activision, once a very good publisher pulls the same stunt as EA.
EA tried to break out of that cycle recently, because they know, they cannot screw their customers forever that way, and for 1 1/2 years they tried to push new innovative games, now that the first 2-3 did not sell millions they axed another 12 of those projects and reverted to the old formula again of pushing out sports titles every year for the stupid general public who buys that dreck.

Ubisoft while not there is on the same path or at least hopes to follow, Assasins Creed2 is a good indication, again another Ubisoft graphical blender with shallow gameplay as it seems (the usual highly paid press praises it into the 100 range, while the mediocre critics slowly crawl up now)

The sad thing is if you spend enough marketing dollars nowadays you can brainwash the general public that the latest garbage can sell millions as long as the garbage looks good, and the problem is it works every time as long as the press plays along and does their pre release or zero day release reviews which score 90% or higher for something which smells rotten but looks shiny.

Re:Damn it, EA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168924)

They kinda did. Prophecy was post-buyout, I believe, and was entirely managed by EA.

Re:Damn it, EA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168998)

Except Prophecy was still a good game. I am fine leaving the Wing Commander franchise for dead though. I would rather see the Roberts brothers continue with the Starlancer/Freelancer universe instead.

Re:Damn it, EA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168934)

Wing Commander is a PC game. If you actually liked the SNES travesty of a game that they slapped the title "Wing Commander" on, then I'm surprised that you complain about the quality of EA games.

Re:Damn it, EA... (2, Interesting)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169252)

Tried to play the SNES version one day, it was not that bad it mostly was a 1:1 port of the PC version, Wing Commander 1 was a very basic game to begin with limited by the machines of that time. Wing Commander 2 was the one which gave the series its good name and Wing Commander 3 was the one which made it famous. (And Wing 4 killed it thanks to EAs heavy influence which you can contribute to everything which sucked at part 4)

Re:Damn it, EA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169552)

The SNES version of Wing Commander was not a 1:1 port, it was much worse. The engine used in the SNES version was slow as hell, especially when you had multiple ships on the screen. It also had a lot of tearing, where you can see segments of the screen update, out of sync with the rest. The controls were terrible due to not having enough buttons, the graphics were far worse (it looked even worse than the Amiga version, which also looked very bad), the soundtrack was missing tunes and sounded horrible compared to the PC original.

The original PC version of Wing Commander was a better game than Wing Commander II. WC2 took away the personal feeling when they removed the merit system where you were actually rewarded with medals, promotions and better ships for flying missions well. Wing Commander III wasn't a bad game, but it did further make the game more impersonal by assigning a name, personality and history to the main character.

Of the Wing Commander series, the best were Wing Commander, Wing Commander: Privateer and Wing Commander: Armada (because of multiplayer). The rest are entirely forgettable.

Re:Damn it, EA... (1)

orzetto (545509) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170134)

Long time, but I do not remember it that way. WC4 was my favourite since it had a solid plot with a few twists, compared to WC3 where Chris Roberts was still experimenting and used the classic evil-aliens-we-must-exterminate plot. For some part of WC4 you could actually choose sides (though the plot had to converge at some point).

What really killed the series was WC5. Bad acting, bad plot, no details ever given about the enemies, gameplay not significantly improved.

Re:Damn it, EA... (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169154)

Wing Commander 4 and Ultima 8 already were developed fully under EA influence, so go figure...
Wing Commander 4 sucked, Ultima 8 while not bad per se was branded as Super Mario Avatar!

Re:Damn it, EA... (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168686)

Huh. I was expecting an Ultima whine.

Damn it, money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168850)

Will you make torrents available?

Move along nothing to see (1)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168620)

I've lost count of how many studios EA has chewed up and spit out.
This isn't news, it's just more of the same.

Re:Move along nothing to see (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169164)

Next ones Bioware... they already are bought, I am just waiting for the first game they did not earn their exepectations, that will be the time EAs screw everything up management will take over and after that we probably will see a Baldurs Gate shooter or Dragon Age Football on a yearly basis and after a while it will be shut down.

EA shareholders, sucks to be you (0)

mambodog (1399313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168744)

Interesting as EA CEO John Riccitiello made a lot of money [escapistmagazine.com] from EA buying them in the first place, while EA shareholders are the losers.

Gamasutra job listings (1)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168832)

I assume one of the bad management decisions was seemingly spending all their money on Gamasutra job postings? When I was looking around for a new job a couple of years ago it seemed like every other posting was for a position at Pandemic.

EA's management decisions are idiotic! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168868)

EA's management is the demise of that company. They pull all their developers from games once they are done and leave noone to fix bugs. They very rarely release patches for anything. There are many online games that have had game impacting issues for years that just drive people away. If they were smart they would get on the model of releasing paid items into some of their games to pull in extra revenue. Or releasing more MAP packs for some of their better games that they just mothball. I hope the whole company folds and makes way for some other game companies that actually care about the user experience.

Conflict of interest? (3, Interesting)

xswl0931 (562013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30168880)

The interesting part of this is that the CEO had EA purchase his old company for a high amount of $$$ and only two years later shut it down while he personally pocketed several million.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/96237-Analyst-Chews-Out-EA-CEO-Over-Pandemic-Closure [escapistmagazine.com]

Re:Conflict of interest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168960)

Exactly like Citigroup: more here [bloomberg.com] . And look how well that has turned out...

Re:Conflict of interest? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169170)

Bioware also was in his assets, and he sold it off to EA while pocketing the money...
Not sure if this is not insider trading.

Re:Conflict of interest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169916)

Insider trading is about using private information to your advantage with respect to trading shares of a corporation.

Don't underestimate the number of perfectly legal ways to be a total scumbag.

From an ex-Pandemite (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30168984)

I'm an ex-Pandemite.
For me, the turning point was around 2006, with the new hardware generation. There were lots of really passionate people here, but the development and design methodologies that worked well in the previous gen simply did not scale up with the larger projects, and things got confusing and out of hand. This was compounded by each internal team having their own unique technology and tools. The amount of redundancy, knowledge lost and effort wasted between projects was quite substantial, not to mention a somewhat lack of ownership or accountability. I was hoping that Sab would be the turning point, but it looks like it is not to be (good news is that last I heard, all SKUs are golden). I hope that many will be able to enjoy it.
What really irks me is that this was a really passionate and talented bunch with so much potential. Definitely the best group I've had the honor to be with, and possibly ever will be.
Cheers to the 16, 18, and 19.

mo5d Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169014)

as Wi33Open,

The Economic Slowdown Excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30169520)

Has anyone noticed that everything get's blamed on the economy ? This seems to be another form of asset stripping where the investors are king, profit is king. Of course these are companies, but they are also services producing for society. I get the feeling some EA management are quite cynical and uncaring about video games and are really corporate employees moving between different manufacturing posts ? It's sad when this kind of corporate lifestyle hurts creativity. Why did Pandemic allow themselves to be bought by EA in the first place ? They shouldn't have done it. They might have made a bit less money, but it would have been more interesting, they would have made more games and this industry would still have an interesting developer.

Every time they do this... (1)

UbuntuniX (1126607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169750)

...the games get considerably worse.

Typical EA model, just sped up by the recession (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30169828)

This is what EA does best -- buying intellectual property by purchasing a studio, letting said studio run for a few years, and then gutting it and turning out unimaginative sequels on said intellectual property. See example Origins (Wing Commander & Ultima), Westwood Studio (Command & Conquer), and Kesmai (Air Warrior, MultiPlayer Battletech). The only difference is that the economy has sped up the process, because it usually takes EA 5 years to gut everything.

The Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30170092)

I do not know about this merger (or acquisition) but I have worked in companies in the past where a stronger competitor wanted two things: 1) our technology and 2) us to not compete with them. So the competitor came in and bought our company and about 90% of us lost our jobs. This could've been the plan all along in this transaction ... to knock our company out of their way and to gain a technology advantage at the same time (all while keeping our brightest and most talented employees). This is a common trick in the business world (to look like it's all sad and everything but they really got what they wanted to begin with 2 years ago).

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