April 9, 2009

A New Media Venture For Inventor Of “˜Sims’

Will Wright, creator of the world's best-selling PC game "The Sims" will be leaving publisher Electronic Arts, the company announced on Wednesday.

After 12 years at EA, Wright has decided to devote more of his creative energies to his own multi-faceted media firm Stupid Fun Club, which he founded in 2001.  Described as an entertainment "think tank", Stupid Fun Club dabbles in the development of a wide variety of media, including video games, film, television, Internet and even toys.

During Wright's time at EA, the company saw worldwide sales of more than 100 million copies of "Sims" and related products, making it the best-selling computer game of all time.  But lest one think that EA is sour over the loss of their top game designer, the entertainment firm also announced that they will be making a major financial stake in Wright's solo project.  EA and Wright will be equal partners as well as the principle shareholders of the Stupid Fun Club venture.

"The entertainment industry is moving rapidly into an era of revolutionary change," said Wright after the initial announcement.  "Stupid Fun Club will explore new possibilities that are emerging from this sublime chaos and create forms of entertainment on a variety of platforms."

On EA's decision to back Wright's new venture, CEO John Riccitiello said: "We believe in Will's vision for Stupid Fun Club and we're looking forward to partnering with Will and his team long into the future."

An EA spokeswoman in a statement on Wednesday: "The way we see it is not all of Will's concepts fit in with the EA business model for interactive entertainment and Stupid Fun Club is an opportunity for Will to try new things and new formats," making clear that there was no acrimony between Wright and the company.

Wright conceived and developed the original idea for "Sims" in 1989 while working with a smaller company, Maxis, of which he was also co-founder.  After being sold to EA in 1997, the game was released in early 2000 and within two years had already sold more than 6 million copies.

The Sims is a strategic life-simulating game where the player is in control of a virtual world where he controls the daily activities its inhabitants.   Wright once described the game as a "digital dollhouse" in which the player can create his own characters or use premade ones and direct nearly every aspect of their daily lives. 

Some people may also know Wright as the brain behind the 1989 computer game classic SimCity, in which the player was able to build and develop a fictional city.

After the close of regular trading on Wednesday, the Nasdaq showed shares for EA's California branch up by nearly 2.5%, closing at $19.62.


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