|Defunct||January 29, 2003|
|Headquarters||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Owner||Virgin Games/Virgin Interactive Entertainment (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, and Westwood was closed by EA in 2003.
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
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 (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 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.
The last games Command & Conquer: Renegade and Earth & Beyond didn't meet expectations of the publisher. In 2003 EA closed the Las Vegas based studios during a consolidation. The move included significant layoffs and personal transfers. Not all employees moved to EA's headquarter in Redwood Shores, California and the Los Angeles based EA Pacific. Some 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.
- 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: The 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)
- Keefer, John (March 31, 2006). "GameSpy Retro: Developer Origins". GameSpy. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
- Morris, Chris (August 17, 1998). "Electronic Arts buys Westwood Studios". CNNMoney. CNN. Archived from the original on May 29, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
- "Westwood Studios Partnership Hits Jackpot". Computer Gaming World. 1 August 1993. p. 32. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- 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.
- Dan Lee Rogers: The End Game: How Top Developers Sold Their Studios - Part One, March 3, 2004, Gamasutra
- Chris Morris: Electronic Arts' online folly Gaming powerhouse has been unable to transfer its success to the online world, March 4, 2003, CNN Money
- Parker, Sam (January 29, 2003). "EA consolidates studios, closes Westwood". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
- 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.
- "Westwood Studios Games List". G4. Westwood. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Westwood Studios Games". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "A Nightmare on Elm Street". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Archived from the original on 15 June 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.