Source - RPGDot
When Richard Garriott left Origin following the release of the hideously bugged Ultima Ascension, Electronic Arts had him sign a one year non-competition agreement to stop him from luring away his former colleagues at Origin to develop similar games at other companies. As it turns out this was all rather pointless, as just a week before his year-long sabbatical was up Electronic Arts decided to sack most of Origin's staff and stop work on their sequel to Ultima Online. The end result is that many of the people who used to work at Origin are now back with Richard Garriott at his new company. You can't help but think that EA have scored a massive own-goal, and the reasons behind the virtual closure of Origin are also rather ironic.
"Starr Long and I advised EA not to do Ultima Online 2, rather we should do sci-fi Ultima or some other non-direct competitor", according to Garriott. "Strangely they insisted we pursue UO2 as the next online game for years, and then laid off the whole team when they figured out we were right. UO2 was going to be long and expensive, [but] they should have finished it or spun out the group onto new projects, not given them away to competitors."
Of course, Lord British isn't complaining about EA's mistake. "I am very excited about getting back into the business", he told RPGDot in a recent interview. "Our fledgling plans are coming together quickly, and I think people will be excited about the team and the plan we have put together."
With E3 just around the corner, we should hopefully know more soon...