Westwood Studios

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Westwood Studios, Inc.
Industry Video games
Fate Dissolved
Founded 1985
Founders Brett Sperry
Louis Castle
Defunct January 29, 2003
Headquarters Las Vegas, Nevada
Key people
Owner Electronic Arts
Parent Electronic Arts
Website www.westwood.com (archived homepage on 2000-03-04)

Westwood Studios, Inc. was an American video game developer, based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was founded by Brett Sperry and Louis Castle in 1985[1] as Westwood Associates and was renamed Westwood Studios when it merged with Virgin Interactive in 1992. The company was bought from Virgin Interactive by Electronic Arts (EA) in 1998, and closed by EA in 2003.[2][1]

Westwood is best known for developing real-time strategy, adventure and role-playing genres. It was listed in Guinness World Records for selling more than 10 million copies of Command & Conquer worldwide. The last former Westwood employee quit working for Electronic Arts after the release of Command & Conquer: Generals in 2003.

Early history and company name[edit]

Brett Sperry and Louis Castle founded Westwood Studios in 1985.[3]

According to Louis Castle, the company was named after the "entertainment meets professional" character of Westwood CA.

We really liked the "entertainment meets professional" character of Westwood CA (in L.A.) and the attraction of the area to teens and young adults felt like the perfect fit for a new company specializing in entertainment software. Even back then we recognized that it took a team of people to make great products so we appended the "Associates" to emphasize that aspect of product development. We were not really sure if we could make a go at game development so the original name "Westwood Associates" also gave us the ability to get into more traditional business software if necessary.[1]

The company's first projects consisted of contract work for companies like Epyx and Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI), porting 8-bit titles to 16-bit systems like Commodore Amiga and Atari ST. Proceeds from contract work allowed the company to expand into designing its own games in-house. Their first original title was Mars Saga, a game developed for Electronic Arts and released in 1988. They laid the foundations for the real-time strategy genre with the release of real-time tactics game BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge, one of the more literal translations of the classic tabletop game BattleTech.

Later success and acquisition by Virgin Interactive[edit]

One of the company's first great successes was Eye of the Beholder (1990), a real-time role-playing video game based on the Dungeons & Dragons license, developed for SSI. Other publishers of early Westwood games included Infocom and Disney. Their company was eventually acquired by Virgin Interactive in 1992.[4]

The company in the late 1980s was known for shipping products late, but by 1993 it had so improved that, Computer Gaming World reported, "many publishers would assure [us] that a project was going to be completed on time because Westwood was doing it". The magazine added that it "not only has a solid reputation for getting product out on time, but a reputation for good product", citing Eye of the Beholder, The Legend of Kyrandia, and Dune II as examples. By then Westwood had about 50 employees, including up to 20 artists.[3] Other well-known Westwood titles from the early 1990s include Lands of Lore and Westwood's greatest commercial success, the 1995 real-time strategy game Command & Conquer. Building on the gameplay and interface ideas of Dune II, it added pre-rendered 3D graphics for gameplay sprites and video cinematics, an alternative pop/rock soundtrack with techno elements streamed from disk, and modem play. Command & Conquer, Kyrandia, and Lands of Lore all spawned multiple sequels.

Acquisition by EA and liquidation[edit]

In August 1998, Westwood was acquired by Electronic Arts for $122.5 million in cash. At the time, Westwood had 5% to 6% of the PC game market.[2][5] In response to EA's buyout, many long-time Westwood employees quit and left Westwood Studios. Because of this and EA's newly imposed demands, games being developed by Westwood Studios at the time were rushed and left unfinished upon their release, namely Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun.[6] All the subsequent games developed by Westwood were also heavily subjected to increased control by Electronic Arts, with some of them being canceled.[7]

Along with Westwood, EA had also acquired Virgin Interactive's development studio based in Irvine, California.[2] It was managed by Westwood and became known as Westwood Pacific, and later EA Pacific. Westwood Pacific developed or co-developed games like Nox and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, which takes place in an alternate universe to that of the original title Command & Conquer.

At the time of its liquidation, Westwood employed a third of the original Westwood Studios personnel, some of whom formed Petroglyph Games in April 2003. Another three (Brett Sperry, Adam Isgreen and Rade Stojsavljevic) formed a development studio called Jet Set Games in 2008, both based in Las Vegas, Nevada.[8]


The following is a list of games produced by Westwood:[9][10]

Software formats[edit]

Vector Quantized Animation, known by its acronym .VQA, is a file format originally developed by Westwood for video encoding in their games, The Legend of Kyrandia and Monopoly. The VQA format was used in every Westwood game released between 1995 and 2000. All data are in little endian. Audio in VQA files are in the .AUD file format.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Keefer, John (March 31, 2006). "GameSpy Retro: Developer Origins". GameSpy. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Morris, Chris (August 17, 1998). "Electronic Arts buys Westwood Studios". CNNMoney. CNN. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Westwood Studios Partnership Hits Jackpot". Computer Gaming World. 1 August 1993. p. 32. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Papadopoulos, John (27 July 2014). "Former Westwood Developer Talks About Electronic Arts, EA's Acquisition & Westwood's Unnamed Project". DSOG Gaming. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Parker, Sam (January 29, 2003). "EA consolidates studios, closes Westwood". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  6. ^ Adam Isgreen (March 8, 2007). "Original intentions with Tiberian Sun". Petroglyph. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  7. ^ Robinson, Andy (February 11, 2008). "EA: 'We blew it with Bullfrog, Westwood'". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  8. ^ Callaham, John (February 2, 2009). "Westwood Games co-founder launches Jet Set Games". Big Download. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Westwood Studios Games List". G4. Westwood. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Westwood Studios Games". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "A Nightmare on Elm Street". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 

External links[edit]