|Fate||Merged into EA Los Angeles|
|Defunct||March 31, 2003|
|Headquarters||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Owner||Virgin Interactive (1992–1998)|
Electronic Arts (1998–2003)
|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 as Westwood Associates and was renamed Westwood Studios when it merged with Virgin Games (later Virgin Interactive Entertainment) in 1992. The company was bought by Electronic Arts alongside Virgin Interactive's North American operations in 1998 In January 2003, it was announced that Westwood, alongside EA Pacific, would be merged into EA Los Angeles. The studio closed in March that year.
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.
Early history and company name
According to Louis Castle, the company was named after the "entertainment meets professional" character of the Westwood neighborhood in Los Angeles.
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.
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 Games
One of the company's first great successes was Eye of the Beholder (1991), 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 Games in 1992.
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. 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
In August 1998, Westwood and sister company Burst Studios was acquired by Electronic Arts for $122.5 million from Virgin Interactive's North American operations, which EA also acquired. At the time, Westwood games had a 5% to 6% share of the PC game market. Especially the Command and Conquer franchise was considered very valuable. The 50,000 square foot building in Las Vegas included motion capture facilities, comfortable offices and was considered a showcase for the industry. According to Westwood Studios designer and programmer Joe Bostic, Electronic Arts did not interfere with Westwood's operations primarily due to Westwood co-founder Brett Sperry's efforts in keeping the corporate cultures of the two companies separate, but eventually Westwood succumbed to wishes that every game had to be a hit.
The last games Command & Conquer: Renegade and Earth & Beyond didn't meet expectations of the publisher. In January 2003, EA announced their intent to close Westwood, as well as EA Pacific, and merge them into EA Los Angeles as part of a consolidation plan. This move included "significant layoffs" for Westwood, which at the time employed 100 people, while the remaining people were given the option to transfer to the Los Angeles studio or EA's headquarters. Westwood was fully closed on March 30, 2003. Some formed Petroglyph Games in April 2003, while 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.
- Roadwar 2000 (1986)
- Mars Saga (1988)
- Questron II (1988)
- BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception (1988)
- Mines of Titan (1989)
- Hillsfar (1989)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1989)
- BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Revenge (1990)
- Circuit's Edge (1990)
- DragonStrike (1990)
- Eye of the Beholder (1991)
- Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon (1991)
- Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon (1992)
- Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun (1992)
- Dune II (1992)
- The Legend of Kyrandia (1992)
- Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos (1993)
- The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate (1993)
- The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm's Revenge (1994)
- The Lion King (1994)
- Young Merlin (1994)
- Command & Conquer (1995)
- Monopoly (1995)
- Command & Conquer – The Covert Operations (1996)
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert (1996)
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert – Counterstrike (1997)
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert – The Aftermath (1997)
- Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny (1997)
- Blade Runner (1997)
- Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor (1997)
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert – Retaliation (1998)
- Dune 2000 (1998)
- Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun (1999)
- Lands of Lore III (1999)
- Recoil (1999) (with Zipper Interactive)
- Nox (2000)
- Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun – Firestorm (2000)
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 (2000)
- Emperor: Battle for Dune (2001)
- Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge (2001)
- Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat (2002)
- Command & Conquer: Renegade (2002)
- Earth & Beyond (2002)
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