EA has closed Maxis Emeryville, the studio behind Spore and the recent SimCity game.
BeyondSims.com first reported the closure after lead gameplay designer Guillaume Pierre tweeted the news this evening.
Well it was a fun 12 years, but it's time to turn off the lights and put the key under the door. #RIPMaxisEmeryville— Guillaume Pierre (@DesignGuillaume) March 4, 2015
In a statement issued to Kotaku, EA said it was "consolidating Maxis IP development" to other studios.
It insisted work on The Sims, which is developed at Redwood Shores, would continue, and affected employees would be given "opportunities to explore" other positions within EA.
Here's the 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.
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.
Maxis' Emeryville studio was behind 2008's Spore and the always-online SimCity, which suffered a disastrous launch upon its March 2013 release. So bad was the situation that EA offered SimCity owners a free game as an apology. Maxis later added an offline mode, among other requested features.
It seems staff are currently in consultation with EA about other jobs within the company.
So why shut down Maxis? SimCity sold 1.1m units in the first two weeks on sale, making it the biggest SimCity launch of all time, according to EA.
"SimCity is one of the storied brands in gaming, and Maxis delivered a game re-envisioned and engineered for the online age," EA said at the time.
Then, in July 2013, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau said SimCity had sold more than 2m units. He called it "a success".
Maxis was co-founded in 1987 by legendary game developer Will Wright and went on to enjoy huge success with the Sim series of games. EA bought the company in 1997 and published The Sims in 2000. It later used the Maxis name to create a development brand that encompasses a number of studios, with The Sims Studio at Redwood Shores responsible for The Sims games.