If you follow gaming news at all you’ve probably already heard this: the headquarters of Maxis has been shut down by their corporate overlords at EA. Some satellite studios remain but it’s unsure what that means for the future of Maxis.

It’s a sad moment particularly for those of us who have been gaming on the PC for decades. Maxis have been around since 1987, and first brought us the famous game of civic planning, Simcity. It spawned a number of sequels, and I remain a fan Simcity 2000, which somehow has the right mix of retro isometric-view charm, accessibility and attention to detail. The next two were, I believe, quite well received. The last outing was more controversial, due to small city sizes and the requirement to be online even for single player.

Meanwhile their other most well known line was the Sims, which proved that the ordinary everyday life of a family can turn out to be source material for a game. I never got into it myself but it shas clearly been very popular. Although the wife tells me the last installment had some problems. Meanwhile, Maxis did also, between these big names, bring out a bunch of other titles. Some of these are little known historical curiosities such as Simfarm. They also brought us Spore, with its rather ambitious goal of letting players guide an alien race all the way through its development from primitive life to cities to interstellar colonies.

EA have a bit of a history of buying up respected developers then later closing them down. In 2004 they killed off Origin, who created landmark PC series Wing Commander and Ultima. In 2003 they did it to Westwood, the guys who were enormously influential in shaping the realtime strategy genre.  Now I think about it, this was the fate of Bullfrog also. Maybe EA had their financial reasons for this latest culling, maybe the fan ire towards the latest sim and simcity games played a part, but still I imagine a lot of fans are rather pissed off today.

This is making me think that, to properly pay tribute to Maxis, I should return to simcity 2000. I never did quite figure out how to best integrate a rail network into the growing metropolis of Stootopia…