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Former Xbox Boss Ed Fries Remembers Microsoft Trying To Buy Westwood Back In The Day

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

In an interview with The XboxEra podcast, Fries is asked if there were any “gaming acquisitions” he wishes he’d been able to complete in his time at Microsoft. He’s surprisingly candid (and detailed) in his response (the video below should begin playing at the relevant question):


Microsoft made an attempt to purchase Westwood Studios, a name that might not mean much to younger readers but which for a time was one of the biggest and most successful developers of PC games on the planet.

From Dune 2 to Command & Conquer, Red Alert to Blade Runner, everything Westwood touched turned to gold, so it was expected that big companies started sniffing around and trying to pick them up. And while it’s impossible to actually go through one of these sliding doors and see what life would have been like if Microsoft had bought Westwood, it surely would have been a better outcome than the one we actually got, which saw EA buy them for $120 million in 1998 then shut them down only five years later.

It’s also really interesting listening to Fries talk about the motivations for both potential (and ultimately failed) acquisitions: the real-time strategy genre, and just how damn big and important it was 20-25 years ago.
 

lh032

I cry about Xbox and hate PlayStation.
lets be honest here, i personally dont think RTS is going to sell these days.

is there still alot of people playing AOE4?
 

zaanan

Banned
lets be honest here, i personally dont think RTS is going to sell these days.

is there still alot of people playing AOE4?
My second son loves RTS more than any type of game. I never got into it, but watched him play a shit ton of Halo Wars, Red Alert- hell, we even all got accounts to play Global Resistance, anybody remember that? It was the only RTS game I actually liked, and Sony shut it down.
 

sn0man

Member
I feel like genres come and go in and out of vogue.

(I’m actually wrong and rts seems deadish and has seemed deadish for quite some time.)
 

Allandor

Member
It is easy to say EA killed Westwood but RTS is no longer mainstream they'd be dead no matter who bought them. Wait incoming transmission

KANE LIVES
That might be right, but ea actively killed the c&c franchise with c&c 4 after part 3 was a success they thought they must make a mobile game from it which resulted in that really, really bad c&C4. They actively sabotaged their loyal community with that game. This was like announcing a football game but delivering a racing game. It is still a sports game but not what the franchise is about.
 

CuNi

Member
That might be right, but ea actively killed the c&c franchise with c&c 4 after part 3 was a success they thought they must make a mobile game from it which resulted in that really, really bad c&C4. They actively sabotaged their loyal community with that game. This was like announcing a football game but delivering a racing game. It is still a sports game but not what the franchise is about.

I remember playing the closed beta of cnc4 and heavily being confused if that is really what they wanted to deliver. Forum was full of playtesters telling them its a horrible game. It literally was the same thing that happened to bf 2042 now that I look at it.
 

SJRB

Gold Member
It is easy to say EA killed Westwood but RTS is no longer mainstream they'd be dead no matter who bought them. Wait incoming transmission

KANE LIVES

...but EA did kill Westwood though.

First they killed Westwood and then they destroyed the C&C brand by vomiting out that disgusting mobile game.

Westwood was an S-tier studio that had skills beyond "just" RTS games [see Blade Runner], but EA axed them all the same.


So fuck EA. Fuck you for destroying so many legacy studios and franchises, you fucks. I hate you.
 

anthony2690

Member
lets be honest here, i personally dont think RTS is going to sell these days.

is there still alot of people playing AOE4?
Aoe4 nearly 9k CCU on 24 hour peaks on steam.
Aoe2 has nearly 19k ccu on 24 peaks. (Recently got a new expansion)
Aoe3 3.6k CCU on 24 hour peaks.

More popular than expected tbh.
 

kainslayer

Neo Member
If they would make a good CNC game and not an abomination like 4, I think it would sell just as well today!!!.loved red alert and generals tbh
 

GHG

Member
And while it’s impossible to actually go through one of these sliding doors and see what life would have been like if Microsoft had bought Westwood, it surely would have been a better outcome than the one we actually got, which saw EA buy them for $120 million in 1998 then shut them down only five years later.

Do some of these journalists have the memory of a fish or something?
 

old-parts

Member
What happened to Westwood was really bad luck/timing.

EA/Westwood bet big on a spaceship MMO that bombed and is completely forgotten about (Earth & Beyond), the space ship genre had fallen from favour in the early 2000's.

Westwood was king of the 2D pixel single player RTS, they struggled to move to 3D unlike their competitors, the last RTS game made by Westwood was Emperor battle for Dune. Another studio that was renamed to be part of Westwood developed Red Alert 2 and C&C Generals and the remains of this studio made the later C&C games for EA.

Westwood was also eclipsed by Blizzard in the early esports RTS scene.

Would their fate have been different under MS, hard to say but they might have hung around longer.

Many of the former Westwood team are at petroglyphgames and make games like they used to.
 
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