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Top 10 Developers Killed By Their Publishers

VO: RT
Script written by Mackenzie Houle Another one bites the dust...These are the developers and game creators that were put out of a job, shut down, terminated or straight up fired by their publishing company. Business is hard, but so is being a game dev. Welcome to http://WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Developers Killed by their Publishers. Special thanks to our user “TrendingMeeting” for suggesting this topic using our interactive suggestion tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Developers Killed by Their Publisher

Oh how the great have fallen. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be taking a look at 10 amazing developers in the gaming industry that were unfortunately offed by their publishers. Before we begin, we publish new videos everyday, so be sure to subscribe for more great content.

For this list, we’ll be taking a look at gaming devs that were shut down by their publishers and parent companies. To qualify, the organization must have all of its internal development shut down. Companies that were merged but had their main branch closed, or just ceased development of all their respective games are applicable.

#10: “Runic Games” (2008-2017)


The most recent of devs to be axed, Runic Games is well known for their Torchlight series. Bringing together major talent from ex-Blizzard devs, the Torchlight series started as an homage to Diablo, before gaining enough ground to become a separate entity with Torchlight 2. Runic’s last game before closure was Hob, and while it didn’t sell as well as their flagship series, it wasn’t the reason for their closure. Like many publishers today, Perfect World Entertainment closed down Runic Games in order to sell games as a service… aka monetizations.

#9: “Core Design” (1988-2010)


While Crystal Dynamics has certainly helped to reinvent the Tomb Raider series,we can’t forget the classics. Core Design started out making small, mediocre titles before finding success in the Tomb Raider franchise. Unfortunately, after the poor sales and critical reception of Angel of Darkness, Core Design’s fate was sealed. Working on only one other title, the studio saw ownership shifted to Rebellion Developments, where it remained for five years without a single game developed, before eventually being shut down.

#8: “Mythic Entertainment” (1995-2014)


Going back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s, multiplayer games were starting to rise up in the industry, especially with MMO’s. Considered to be one of the granddaddies of MMO’s, Mythic’s long list of contributions to the genre helped to shape many titles we play today. From their first game Dragon’s Gate, to the massive hit that was Dark Age of Camelot, Mythic had it made. Despite releasing well-received MMO’s, the studio was wound down by EA overtime, until their final game was the infamous Dungeon Keeper reboot. Ironically, the reboot was from a developer previously published by EA.

#7: “Bullfrog Productions” (1987-2001)


The creators behind the original Dungeon Keeper, Bullfrog Productions is praised for their strategy and god simulator games. Spearheaded by none other than Peter Molyneux, the studio is considered to be the founder of the “God-Game” genre, giving players near unlimited power and control over the environment and its denizens. Working with EA during their early years, they became a subsidiary in 1993, officially making games exclusively for EA... if they only knew the horror that awaited. While the studio grew, so did EA’s list of desired games -and the quality soon fell. EA slowly began to merge the studio with EA UK , until finally closing it down in 2001.

#6: “Pandemic Studios” (1998-2009)


Pandemic Studios knew how to make fun games that offered hours of entertainment… and without a progression system to boot! The creators behind the original Star Wars: Battlefront series, they are still hailed as creating one of the ultimate Star Wars gaming experiences. Beyond their Star Wars games, fans of the studio will also recognize fun titles like the Destroy all Humans! and Mercenaries series. Bought by EA in 2007, they only lasted for two more years before being terminated. The few games they did work on under EA received poor sales, and while they were indeed inventive, poor sales are never something you want to have under Electronic Arts.

#5: “Lionhead Studios” (1996-2016)


Taking his creative ideas elsewhere after his time at Bullfrog, Peter Molyneux started up another studio. While they first began with spiritual successors to Populous, it was the European Fantasy Fable series that brought Lionhead Studios to the forefront. Finding a publisher in Microsoft Game Studios, Lionhead’s Fable series continued to grow, despite Peter’s habit of promising features he couldn’t deliver. After four years since a proper Fable title, Lionhead showed off Fable Legends, with unique and interesting features never seen before -it promised to be a good game. Unfortunately, it couldn’t seem to find the same audience. The game was canceled and the studio shut down by Microsoft.

#4: “Maxis” (Emeryville studio) (1987-2015)


If a silly simulation of life is what you’re looking for, then Maxis was your studio. Creators of the renowned Sims and Simcity series, Maxis was considered a pro at creating games where you could escape the humdrum daily life in favor of one with more direct control-something Maxis founder Will Wright seemed to lack the more time his company spent with EA. The last nail in the coffin came from the reboot of SimCity, and the mediocre launch of The Sims 4. In 2015. Soon after, Maxis’ main studio was closed, taking all other studios and putting them on various projects while merging them with other EA subsidiaries.

#3: “Westwood Studios” (1985-2003)



RTS games weren’t anything new at the time of Westwood Studios’ flagship Command & Conquer series, but that didn’t stop them from helping to bring the genre into a brighter spotlight. Before even that series took off, Westwood would shape the landscape for RTS games to come with their Dune series -specifically Dune 2, with developers and critics citing the titles as the true beginning of an era for RTS games. Despite their legendary status in the RTS market, the last Command & Conquer game didn’t impress EA, essentially signing the studio’s death warrant.

#2: “Visceral Games” (1998-2017)


Can EA just please stop? Visceral Games was unfortunately the latest in EA’s long line of closed studios. Known first as EA Redwood, it was when Dead Space came into play that they rebranded as Visceral. Critics and audiences praised the first two entries for creating a successful horror-action game. Unfortunately, with EA’s meddling hands in Dead Space 3, Visceral began to wind down, becoming another EA side company that worked on other people’s series . Given the chance to make a Star Wars game, they went with a linear, story-driven game… and to no one’s surprise, EA butted heads with them, until they ultimately decided to shut both the project and Visceral Games down.

#1: “LucasArts” (1982-2013)


Adapting one of the greatest Sci-Fi movies into video games is only one of the many accomplishments of LucasArts. Acting as both a developer and publisher, LucasArts also worked on many adventure games, including the Monkey Island series and Sam & Max Hit the Road. Their contribution to both Adventure games and the Star Wars series is legendary... or rather “was”. After being acquired by Disney, all current games -like Star Wars 1313- under LucasArts were cancelled, and the rights handed over to EA. Given EA’s handling over Star Wars Battlefront as of late… it makes this all the more troublesome. LucasArts may not be closed, but they are nothing but a shell of their former selves.
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