Tag Archives | Will Wright

Will Wright Leaving — But Still Working With — EA

willwrightFans of Will Wright probably know about his bizarre hobbies. At times, he’s built Battlebots, collected Soviet space program relics and enjoyed a bit of illegal street racing. Those pursuits are probably easier when you’re a legendary game designer, the creative force behind Sim City, The Sims and Spore.

Effective today, Wright is taking his mind off computer games, at least partially, to pursue other creative endeavors. He’s leaving megapublisher Electronic Arts to run the Stupid Fun Club, which he founded in 2001 as a way to build competitive robots and experiment with other non-gaming ideas.

“The entertainment industry is moving rapidly into an era of revolutionary change,” Wright said in a press release. “Stupid Fun Club will explore new possibilities that are emerging from this sublime chaos and create new forms of entertainment on a variety of platforms. In my twelve years at EA, I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside some of the brightest and most talented game developers in the industry and I look forward to working with them again in the near future.”

While it’s certainly big news, the headline has more gravity than the story itself. Wright’s comments imply that he’s not totally leaving game design. Furthermore, MTV Multiplayer reports that EA has an equal stake with Wright in Stupid Fun Club — a third investor has a smaller share — plus first rights on any games that emerge from the venture.

If Wright is taking some sort of hiatus from game design, I’ll miss his creative influence on the medium. At the same time, I’m excited to see what happens when he tries to entertain the masses with his other hobbies.

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Is EA Trying to Sims-ify Spore?

Spore BoxMy, how Spore is multiplying.

When the much-hyped evolution sim was released in September, along with it came Spore Creatures for the Nintendo DS and Spore Origins for mobile phones. In November, we got the Spore Creepy & Cute Parts Pack — basically a cache of extra appendages to tinker with — and come springtime we’ll get a full expansion in Spore: Galactic Adventures.

But wait, there’s more.

Yesterday, Electronic Arts confirmed Spore Hero for the Wii and Spore Hero Arena for the DS, plus a PC spin-off called Spore Creature Keeper. If you lost count, that’s seven additional Spore games, spin-offs and expansions to hit shelves within more or less a year of the original game’s release.

It occurs to me that EA is trying to “Sims-ify” Spore — i.e., turn it into a massive brand that can be continually milked for more revenue. This isn’t a major revelation, given that the guy behind Spore, Will Wright, also created the Sims, and that the franchise has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Still, this time around it seems forced.

Wikipedia, of all places, gives a nice, scanable overview of how the Sims brand was distributed over time. It started with the main game in January 2000, followed by the “Livin’ Large” expansion pack in August 2000. The next add-on didn’t come until April 2001, and after that it was a steady stream of roughly bi-annual expansions. The official sequel came in 2004, and a third title is coming this year.

The current cycle with Spore seems to be moving faster. Granted, that’s because the approach is different, with EA immediately expanding the brand beyond the PC, but I wonder how effective that will be for Wii and DS owners who haven’t played the main game. Even if you are a big Spore fan and are willing to enjoy the franchise across multiple platforms, all these auxiliary releases — so soon from the original launch date — must feel like an overload.

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