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Maxis Software was an American video game company that served as one of the four major labels of Electronic Arts that was responsible for the development of Spore and its spinoffs, in addition to similar simulation-based games, such as SimCity, and among the best-selling computer games, The Sims.
Most Maxis titles were simulation-based, though none were considered traditional simulations. Maxis founder Will Wright likened them to "digital playgrounds". Maxis has also released games developed by other production houses, such as A-Train, sometimes with less than stellar results.
Maxis was founded in 1987 by Will Wright and Jeff Braun in order to bring their first creation, SimCity to home computers, eventually becoming one of the most successful computer games of all time. This spawned the SimCity series, which includes SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000, SimCity 4 and the reboot SimCity. Following the success of the SimCity franchise, the company began to make other Sim- games, only a few of which were successful. Because of this, Electronic Arts (EA) completed its acquisition of Maxis on July 28, 1997.
The Sims released in 2000 became Maxis' greatest hit, eventually becoming the most successful video game of all time, leading on to include four highly successful sequels as well dozens of expansion and stuff packs. However, since 2006, the franchise is developed by The Sims Studio, while Maxis itself began to concentrate on it's latest project: Spore.
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. Spore was eventually released in September 2008, and, though it was a commercial success, it was the subject of harsh criticism and the target of a consumer protest against Electronic Arts over the use of a modified version of SecuROM, a DRM software developed by Sony DADC, that originally required online authentication every ten days and imposed a limit on how many computers are able to authenticate the product key for a single copy of the game.
Maxis went on to create Spore Galactic Adventures, as well as stuff packs and spin-offs to the series, but entered a hiatus in 2010 for unknown reasons.
Maxis' hiatus ended in 2012 when they announced a reboot to the SimCity series which was released in 2013. The game was met with mixed reviews, not the least of which was due to many, many issues at launch that took multiple patches to fix. In 2012, Maxis became one of EA's four primary labels and was merged with The Sims Studio, once again becoming responsible for new Sims games, including the highly anticipated The Sims 4, released in June of 2014. In March of 2015, Maxis closed its doors and merged with Electronic Arts.
The future of the Spore franchise remains in doubt.
- Maxis was founded by Will Wright, though Lucy Bradshaw took lead in the late 2000s, often announcing its games.
- 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'.
- Maxis was headquartered in Emeryville, California.