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Maxis Software
Type Subsidiary of Electronic Arts
Industry Software & programming
Founded 1987
Founder(s) Will Wright, Jeff Braun
Headquarters Emeryville, California, USA
Products SimCity, Sim franchise, The Sims, Spore and Darkspore
Owner(s) Electronic Arts
Parent Electronic Arts

Maxis Software is an American company that was founded as a video game developer and is now a brand name of Electronic Arts (EA). 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 sequel The Sims 2. These three 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.

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.

HistoryEdit

Origin and early acclaimEdit

Maxis 1st logo

Maxis logo 1987-1992

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), and most recently SimCity 4 (2003).

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. They released some non-Sim titles, such as 1991's RoboSport. Maxis also started a division in the United Kingdom called Maxis UK .

DeclineEdit

After the immense success of SimCity, Maxis attempted to go into new areas. However, their new games, including The Crystal Skull and SimCopter, were of poor quality, and were commercial failures. They acquired Cinematronics and renamed the new division Maxis South, which created an unreleased Diablo-type 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. Under EA, the company was completely reorganized, but compared to other companies acquired by EA, such as Origin Systems and Westwood Studios, the absorption of Maxis has taken a slower pace. 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 has been developing Spore) is located in Emeryville, California.

Notable CreationsEdit

SimCityEdit

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SimCity Classic cover art

Early cover arts of SimCity feature a jukebox-like design, with different versions depicting different cities and disasters.

SimCity
is an open-ended city-building computer and console video game series and the brainchild of developer Will Wright. It is published by Maxis (now a division of Electronic Arts). The game was first published in 1989 as SimCity, and it has spawned several different editions sold worldwide. The ongoing success of SimCity has also sparked the release of many other spin-off "Sim" titles, including 2000's The Sims, the best-selling computer game in history.

In SimCity, the player is given the task of founding and developing a city, while maintaining the happiness of the citizens and keeping a stable budget. In SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4, the player is allowed to alter the terrain of the city before building on it.

The player must define zones, each having limits on the kind of development that can occur there. Development of the zones is not performed directly by the player, but happens when certain conditions are met, such as power supply, adequate transport links or acceptable tax level. The residential zones, in green, provide housing for Sims; the commercial zones, in blue, provide shops and offices; and the industrial zones, in yellow, provide factories, laboratories and farms. There are three different densities (two for SimCity 2000) in the game: low density for small buildings, medium desity for low to mid-sized buildings, and high density for anything up to large tower blocks.

The SimsEdit

The Sims Coverart

The Sims cover art

Maxis' most successful series to date is The Sims (2000). The Sims is a life simulator, a spin-off from the SimCity which has in turn eclipsed SimCity in popularity since its release in 2000. The game puts players in control of isometric neighborhoods and people, or "Sims". Originally released for the PC, the game has also been ported to the Mac, and versions have been released for several video game systems.

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.

After The Sims 2, all games in The Sims and SimCity series are made by The Sims Studio.

SporeEdit

Sporebox

Spore cover art

One of Maxis' more recent projects, Spore, was released on September 7, 2008 (September 5 in Europe). Players create species starting at the single cell level, and develop them into sentient life. The goal is for them to eventually gain the intelligence to create spaceships. The Spore Creature Creator allows users to create species for later use in the game. This is one of few Maxis' games to feature goals on its plot as the player must complete five different phases and reach the space-traveling technology. There is also an ultimate goal, which is entering the galactic core, a massive black hole surrounded by a powerful and hostile cyborg species called The Grox. However, the player can stay in a single phase as long as they wish, even after completing it.

In March of 2005, Will Wright, head of Maxis, showed off Spore publicly for the first time. He did so in a GDC presentation vaguely titled "The Future of Content". No public mention of Spore being shown was announced prior to the presentation, taking most spectators by surprise. Initially after the presentation no images of Spore were available, but soon after someone leaked images of Spore online, in a Viral Marketing campaign over the next several months. Spore's next public appearance was at E3 in May. This time the showing of the game was announced, but the game was to be shown behind closed doors at the conference. The presentation of the game was reported to have been very similar to the GDC presentation.

Spore was largely lauded by media and by Maxis and Electronic Arts themselves as one of the most revolutionary games of all time. Professional criticisms were highly positive, and the game currently holds an 84 Metascore on Metacritic, indicating generally positive reviews. EA Games confirmed the production of expansion packs due to Spore's financial success, later releasing Spore: Galactic Adventures in 2009 as well as several spin-offs and "parts packs".

Maxis used the creature creator from Spore in their latest game, Darkspore.

GamesEdit

DeveloperEdit

PublisherEdit

Upcoming Games Edit

  • SimCity (2013, PC)

Unknown status Edit

  • Spore Creature Keeper (PC)

ReferencesEdit

1. Maxis Software Inc. at Moby Games

2. Maxis South at Moby Games

3. Maxis UK Ltd. at Moby Games

4. "SIMply Divine: The story of Maxis Software", circa 2000, on GameSpot by Geoff Keighley

5. Spore Wiki at Wikia.com

6. Maxis - Online Engineer at EA Jobs

External linksEdit

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