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EA shuts down Maxis Emeryville, studio behind SimCity (update)

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Electronic Arts is closing Maxis, the studio behind the SimCity franchise, EA confirmed in a statement to Polygon today, following reports on Twitter from now-former employees of the company.

Development on SimCity and The Sims will continue at EA's studios in Redwood Shores, California; Salt Lake City; Helsinki; and Melbourne, Australia. However, the Maxis home offices in Emeryville, California, are being closed.

Here's the full statement from EA:

Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to our studios in Redwood Shores, Salt Lake City, Helsinki and Melbourne locations as we close our Emeryville location. Maxis continues to support and develop new experiences for current Sims and SimCity players, while expanding our franchises to new platforms and developing new cross-platform IP.

These changes do not impact our plans for The Sims. Players will continue to see rich new experiences in The Sims 4, with our first expansion pack coming soon along with a full slate of additional updates and content in the pipeline.

All employees impacted by the changes today will be given opportunities to explore other positions within the Maxis studios and throughout EA. For those that are leaving the company, we are working to ensure the best possible transition with separation packages and career assistance.

An EA representative declined to specify how many employees are affected by the shutdown of Maxis.

Maxis was founded in 1987 as Maxis Software by Will Wright and Jeff Braun. The studio's first game, SimCity, debuted in 1989 and kicked off one of the most beloved series in gaming. EA acquired the company in 1997, and Wright shifted to developing The Sims. Released in 2000, The Sims became another massive franchise for EA. The publisher later split off the Sims team into The Sims Studio, moving development of that franchise to the EA offices in Redwood Shores and Salt Lake City. The most recent entry in the series, The Sims 4, launched last fall. Maxis had previously brought back SimCity with a reboot in 2013, SimCity; that game was hampered by severe online problems that persisted long after launch.

As first reported by Beyond Sims, longtime Maxis staffer Guillaume Pierre tweeted today that "it's time to turn off the lights and put the key under the door," along with the hashtag #RIPMaxisEmeryville:

Pierre began his career at Maxis 12 years ago, in April 2003, and served as a designer and the lead gameplay scripter on 2013's SimCity. In response to a question about Maxis shutting down, Pierre affirmed the closure and said, "Everyone's out of a job." He told Polygon that he couldn't provide further details "beyond that the studio is shutting down."

Barrie Tingle, who worked as a live producer on SimCityalso tweeted about Maxis' shutdown. "Maxis Emeryville closes as of today," he said. In a later tweet, Tingle posted a photo of the refrigerator at the studio, saying it's "stocked for the day" with "cheap malt liquor."

Update: The Sims isn't unaffected by the closure of Maxis Emeryville. EA is also laying off "a handful of people" from the Sims team at the company's Redwood Shores offices, an anonymous EA source told Polygon. We've reached out to EA for comment, and will update this article with any information we receive.

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