EA Maxis (formerly Maxis Software, or simply Maxis) is an American company, founded by Will Wright and Jeff Braun in 1987 as an independent video game developer. It was acquired by Electronic Arts (EA) in 1997, and is now one of EA's four major development labels. Maxis focuses on developing causal games for gamers and non-traditional gamers.
Maxis' second software title was the seminal SimCity, a city simulation and planning game. Maxis is also the creator of the best-selling computer game of all time, The Sims and its sequels The Sims 2, The Sims 3, and The Sims 4. These five titles and their related products are the brand's most popular and successful lines.
Most of the Maxis titles are simulation-based, though none are considered traditional simulations. Maxis founder Will Wright likens them as "digital playgrounds." Maxis has also released games developed by other production houses, such as A-Train, sometimes with less than stellar results.
Origin and early acclaimEdit
Maxis was founded in 1987 by Will Wright and "idea guy" Jeff Braun to help publish SimCity on home computers. Before then, the game was only available on a limited basis on the Commodore 64 due to few publishers showing any interest in porting it. The reason for this is because SimCity wasn't a traditional game that had definite "win" and "lose" conditions. The title went on to become, statistically, one of the most popular and successful video games of all time.
The SimCity series has since been updated to include SimCity 2000 (1993), SimCity 3000 (1999), SimCity 3000: Unlimited (2000), SimCity 4 (2003) and the non-Maxis developed SimCity Societies (2007). Maxis is currently working on a reboot of the franchise in SimCity (also called SimCity 2013 to differentiate it from the original), expected to be released early in 2013.
After such success with the SimCity series, Maxis tried various other Sim- titles. Some of these attempts include SimEarth, SimAnt, SimTower, SimLife, and SimFarm. The success of these franchises varies, but none matched that of the original SimCity. Maxis' hit The Sims is the only very notable exception. Other games developed by Maxis, in addition to the SimCity series and Sim- series, include RoboSport (1991), Marble Drop (1997), and Spore (2008).
After the immense success of SimCity, Maxis attempted to go into new areas. However, their new games, including The Crystal Skull and SimCopter, were commercial failures. They also acquired Cinematronics to create a game called Crucible. Heavy losses and lack of direction led Maxis to begin considering acquisition offers.
Acquisition by EAEdit
Electronic Arts (EA) completed its acquisition of Maxis on July 28, 1997. Compared to other companies acquired by EA, such as Origin Systems and Westwood Studios, the absorption of Maxis has taken a slower pace, and the company has retained some of its original staff, including Will Wright. Products were shipped under the Maxis logo for several years, but in 2004, The Sims 2 only bore the Electronic Arts logo on the box cover (although Sims 2 displays the Maxis logo at game start, and on the reverse side of the box). As of October 18 2006, and the release of The Sims 2: Pets expansion pack, the Maxis title has been omitted from the game's start.
For many years, Maxis was a traditional studio located in Walnut Creek, California (and before that, Orinda, California), but in February 2004 the division was finally folded into EA's Redwood Shores headquarters.
Will Wright's studio (who was developing Spore) is located in Emeryville, California.
Maxis' most successful series to date is The Sims (2000). Released despite concern from Electronic Arts that it would be a commercial failure, it has gone on to become the most successful computer game in history. Maxis has developed seven expansion packs for the game as well as an online version (The Sims Online). Maxis released The Sims 2 in 2004, a sequel title that features a full 3D environment as opposed to the original's pseudo-3D diametric engine. The Maxis logo is no longer featured upon the start-up of more recent The Sims 2 Expansion Packs. The logo however, can still be found on the back of the CD case and on the start up of the base game. It is now added onto the front cover of The Sims 3: University Life and into the startup logo intro of The Sims 3. Its last appearance on the front cover was on The Sims: Makin' Magic.
In late 2011, EA reorganized its company structure, creating four main labels - EA Games, EA Sports, EA BioWare, and EA Maxis (formerly EA Play) With reorganization, Maxis is now home to The Sims Studio, the current developers of The Sims series, as well as other casual gaming development studios within EA. Its current General Manager is Lucy Bradshaw, who joined Maxis in 1998 and served as Executive Producer for The Sims 2.
Contrary to popular myth, the company's name was not based on the words "six AM" spelled backwards. Rather, it was derived from a formula suggested by Jeff Braun's father: computer game companies should have two-syllable names and should include an 'x'. It was noted later that the name is "six AM" backwards.
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