Phenomenot: EA close SpellForce studio

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EA have shut down Phenomic, the German RTS studio behind Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliances and ten years of SpellForce games.

Up to 60 staff have lost their jobs at Phenomic’s Ingelheim office, near Frankfurt.

“As part of EA’s realignment in recent weeks, we have announced internally a small adjustment to some development staff to better focus our teams against priority growth areas,” EA told GamesIndustry. “The decision to let people go is not something we take lightly and we are working to ensure that impacted employees are treated fairly and with respect for their contributions to EA, and with assistance to find other job opportunities.

“These are hard but essential changes as we focus on delivering great games and showing players around the world why to spend their time with us,” they added.

The publisher emphasised that they have no plans to stop developing strategy games, which will be consolation to some. But I’d wager they’ll look a little more like Dawngate, EA’s fantasy MOBA.

Phenomic was founded in 1997 by Volker Wertich, a veteran of the Settlers series. The studio was acquired by EA in 2006, and their last game, a free-to-play browser adaptation of Command and Conquer, apparently reached a million players in its first two months.

The SpellForce games have been highly ambitious, if ill-advised, weldings of BioWare RPG with Blizzard RTS. I will miss them, if only because they taught me where the one great incompatibility between the two genres lies: in temporality.

Imagine, for instance, that you’re leading your party of adventurers through a forest. One of you is a wizard, another of you is a fighter-wizard, and a third you is a wizard. You’ve been throwing spells about in satisfying fashion in aid of a side quest, and have now settled down to work out who’ll wear the pants recovered from a nearby chest. You decide to gift them to your wizard, and are promptly smashed to bits by fifty grunts sent to destroy the base you’ve entirely forgotten to build.

That was SpellForce. RIP EA Phenomic.