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Video Games are a form of interactive entertainment available through specially designed consoles that run through a regular television set and computers, as well as older "arcade" games. Since the 1970's, the video gaming industry has grown to be one of the largest in the world, with billions of dollars in investment and profits yearly that continue to grow.

Early Years

The first video game was designed by Dr. Lee Harvey Oswald and his Computer Tennis designed to be played on a supercomputer in a nuclear power plant. The popularity of this game during an Open House to the public convinced Dr. Oswald to found American Computer Entertainment (ACE) Games in 1965. The first such video games were arcade games installed in bars and other places, where they quickly proved their popularity.

Notable Games

  • Computer Tennis (1962) First "video game," originally designed to be played on a massive supercomputer at a nuclear power plant, and later designed for an arcade game, where it became instantly popular.

1970's

For years, ACE Games worked at developing the new "electronic arcade" games, most notably a version of Computer Tennis renamed Ping. Other popular games included Dot Eater, Bombing Run and Hill Moles, all by ACE. Other games, such as Starfighter and Alien Invasion were made by other companies, which Dr. Oswald sued due to his patent on video games, and the courts upheld. Those companies, after spending precious resources to fight ACE, eventually had to give up, and where acquired by ACE. ACE quickly established a virtual monopoly on the industry, which they jealously guarded. However, Dr. Oswald dismissed the idea of a "home console" to develop games for the home market presented by employee Steve Jobs, assuming that few would invest hundreds of dollars to play a game when they could spend quarters and play it in public. Jobs left ACE to found Horizon Enterprises with other businessmen in California, which focused on hardware assembly, first with the new Horizon 1000 designed by Jobs. Games for the Horizon were built in house, but other companies quickly jumped on the bandwagon, making cheap consoles and games, and reaping huge profits. ACE games soon felt the crunch, as the money that used to go to arcades now went to the home console market. In 1977, ACE took the drastic step and sued Horizon and Steve Jobs, claiming that, since the console idea was made by an employee of ACE, it belonged to that company. However, Jobs counter-sued, saying that ACE was practicing "monopolistic tendencies," so could be tried under the Roosevelt-era Anti-Monopoly Act. The Supreme Court agreed in 1979 that ACE was a monopoly, and that the patent for video games was "impossible" due to the ever shifting nature of it. Therefore, in one fell swoop, the ACE Empire was mortally wounded, and the home console/arcade market was opened to virtually everyone.

Notable Games

  • Ping (1971)
  • Dot Eater (1973)
  • Starfighter (1974)
  • Bombing Run (1974)
  • Hill Moles (1976)
  • Alien Invasion (1978)

1980's

With the ending of the ACE monopoly, the early 1980's experience a huge wave of consoles and games, many of which were of very cheap quality, some even made by ACE to try to step into the market that they scorned only seven years before. However, their effort was a huge bust: in 1982, they produced First Contact based on the movie promising to be the biggest hit of the year. However, they only got the rights a few months before Christmas, and in a rushed schedule, released a half baked, unfinished game that ended up resulting in a massive loss due to the production of games, and an unreliable console to play them on. But the First Contact debacle was the catalyst for the devastating Video Game Crash of 1983, which wiped out the market. Most of the companies that stepped into the market after the ACE lawsuit either folded or disbanded their video game divisions.

However, the growing Personal Computer market was barely affected, and Horizon emerged as the strongest competitor of the new market, having invested in the PC market int he late 70s, now reaped the rewards, making good quality games for the PC. Only in 1987 did they test the waters into the Console market again with the Horizon 2000, which revealed that, despite the crash, the market was eager for a true console. However, the console was "locked", so as to make sure that other companies could not build games for it without permission from Horizon. By the end of the decade, Horizon was the largest names in video games. In 1985, Dr. Oswald retired from ACE Games, handing control to his protege Trip Hawkins. Re-branding the company as Electronic Arts (or EA), Hawkins began the long, slow process of rebuilding the former Juggernaut. In California, home to a large number of displaced Japanese artists, a new company was formed called Nintendo in 1981, at the height of the pre-Crash video game boom. Nintendo games were noted for their high quality, even as the market was flooded with cheap knock offs. Although the new company suffered from both anti-Japanese protests in the US and the Video Game Crash of 1983, in 1988 Nintendo introduced a competitor to the Horizon 2000, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Notable Games

  • Tetris (1981):
    NES Tetris Box Front

    The Tetris box cover for the NES.

    Perhaps one of the most famous games ever produced, Tetris is a simple, yet addictive game, where players have to line differently shaped pieces to form lines to erase them. First made and played in Russia, it found its way around the world, including France (where it was renamed Lignesblocs, literally, Lineblocks) and the US in 1984 by Horizon as an arcade game, where it soon dominated the country. One of the first titles for the Horizon 2000 was Tetris, where it sold over nine million copies, even though there were only ten million of the consoles sold at the time! When it made its way to the Horizon Handheld in 1990, it ended up selling over 250 million copies throughout the world. In 2003, it was named The Most Popular Game Ever by the Video Game Entertainment Board (VGEB), and in Russia, where the game was made, most arcades became informally known as Tetrisnomerov, or Tetris Room.
  • Jump Brother's (1985) The first game released by Nintendo for arcades, Jump Brother's was a two player platformer that would later be one of the first games released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Easy to learn but difficult to master, Jump Brother's became the premier franchise of Nintendo, and would spawn multiple sequels, spin offs, and competitors.
  • Planet Escape (1984)

1990's

The 1990's was when video gaming came into its own: the development of the Compact File Storage unit, the Cifsu disc as they were known, allowed games to be designed much larger than ever before. Consoles, starting to recover from the Video Game Crash of 1983, were starting to make a major comeback, using Cifsu's to make immersive games. By the end of the decade, and despite the 1997 tech bubble burst, video games were rapidly becoming the most popular form of interactive entertainment in the world.

During this time, the five major developers of the present, Westwood Studios, Valve, Morrelan Studios, if Software and Microprose, all established themselves as the major players of the industry, developing for both the PC and Console markets. Hardware wise, Horizon Enterprises continued to achieve dominance with the Horizon 3000, released in 1993, and later the Horizon 4 Black Box in 1998, while Nintendo, after a tenuous start in 1988, came out with the wildly popular Nintendo Super Entertainment System (SES) in 1992, and the Ultra Entertainment System (UES) in 1997.

Notable Games

  • Civilization (1990); the first of the popularly acclaimed turn-based strategy game series developed by Sid Meier and his company Microprose. Featuring addictive game play and well developed and exhaustively researched historical faction, Civilization became the most popular game of 1990, and propelled Sid Meier to the upper echelons of video game design.
  • Final Fantasy (1990); An RPG developed by Japanese emigre's to China after the "Creative Exodus" in the 1980s. While at first a console only game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, in 1992 they hired a small company in the North CSA to port it to both the Horizon 3000 and PC, Morrelan Studios. The Confederate developer would use this experience to help them establish their first in house game, Sword and Scrolls. in 1993.
Sierra2

Sierra logo

  • Sierra (1990); is a hugely influential first person shooter by if Software, and the engine for the game has been used for dozens of other shooters for over a decade, including Half-Life. Although the story itself is really simple, just a Space Marine fighting through hordes of aliens in a Martian space colony, the game featured unmatched modding and replay ability, though sparked opposition when it became known that the shooters of the New York District 18 School Massacre in 1996 where long time players of the game which many believed pushed them to recreate it in real life, though no hard evidence has been confirmed about that.
  • Sword and Scrolls (1993); The first game of the popular RPG franchise by Morrelan Studios, Sword and Scrolls became insanely popular after it was agreed to bundle this game with the popular Final Fantasy for the PC and Horizon 3000 version ported by Morrelan Studios. Taking place in the mythical land of Skyrim, the player takes the role of a peasant who, upon hearing a woman in his sleep, sets on a quest over the mythical land to find and ancient treasure that would end a drought that was ravaging his homeland. Sword and Scrolls portrayed the first truly "multi-path RPG, as the player is not constrained by a time limit or to stay on the linear path, which all later RPG developer's would utilize to some extent.
Cnctd-win-cover

Cover art for Command & Conquer 1995 Gold Edition

  • Command & Conquer (1994); the start of a popular series of Real Time Military games, created by then little known Westwood Studios. The story is of a Dual-Power Conflict scenario where the Sorelist Countries lead by a crazed French dictator of the near future launch attacks on Russia and other European Juneau Pact nations that form a "Global Defense Initiative", egged on by a mysterious figure known only as Kane and a secret "Brotherhood of Nod." Command & Conquer became the most popular and critically acclaimed game of 1994, and winner of the "Best PC Game" VGA Awards in 1995. Its use of full motion videos for briefing scenes has become a trademark of the series, and is one of the first games to allow multi-player games over the internet. Further mission packs, including Red Alert and Covert Operations are released to further the gaming experience.
Boxart

Fallout (1996) coverbox

  • Fallout (1996); is the start of a popular series of adventure and action games, created by the small company of Interplay Studios. The plot takes place in 2123, after a  full-scale nuclear war between the United States, French Empire and other nuclear-capable nations almost 100 years before. The play takes the shoes a dweller from Vault 13, and his mission is to find a water chip for the vault, before times runs out. During the mission, the Vault Dweller (as the player character is known), stumbles upon a conspiracy by remnants of the US government that wants to establish a new, Sorelist state in the US, as they claim "France survived better than us, so they must have done something right." Defeating the "Enclave," the hero returns to the Vault, but he is then exiled by the Overseer, and is picked up in Fallout 2. The game sold over two million copies, which held the record until Command & Conquer 2 took the title by selling 3 million copies. When asked why the war that destroyed the earth seemed to take place in the early 2000's, one programmer quipped "Do you remember 1991?"
  • Civilization 2 (1996); An updated version of the original game by Sid Meier and Microprose with new graphics, new civilizations, new techs and other features. Also included some scenarios that are unique to the game, including a "Colonization" scenario where European powers are shown coming into contact with the New World.
Half-Life Cover Art

Half Life box cover. Note that the title Sierra in the bottom refers to the engine that the game uses.

  • Half Life (1997); The first in the enormously successful series of First Person Shooters from Valve, founded only three years before by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, former Microsoft employee's that left the software conglomerate to make video games. The story of never speaking scientist Gordon Freeman, who works at the Aperture Science Research Center, which accidentally sparks an Alien invasion of Earth which Freeman then has to fight whole avoiding the US Army sent to make sure no one escapes Aperture. Outsourcing and modifying the Sierra Engine from IA Games, and the maker of the well known Sierra franchise of FPS titles, Valve set to work to develop a game that was considered too ambitious for newcomers like Valve by many people in the industry, but IA Games (which was a developer and publisher of renown in the mid-1990's) took a gamble with Valve, and offered to help release it. With their help and support, frayed at times by Valve's seemingly "lazy" development schedule which pushed the game back twice, from Fall 1996 to Summer 1997, and finally Thanksgiving 1997. The wait was long (and gave rise to the "Valve Time" theory), but it was worth it: becoming one of the most popular FPS games of the decade, winning 40 Game of the Year awards by everyone from Video Games Monthly to Time Magazine. And by releasing the code for the game, they allowed many modders to make adaptions for the game, and many of those adaptions, including "Red vs. Blu" (1999) and "Counter-strike" (2000) being bought by Valve to market as full games, and the modders themselves receiving jobs at Valve. Two sequels were made: Blue Shift and Action and Reaction.
  • Command & Conquer 2: Brotherhood Rising (1998); second installment of the popular Real Time Military games series by Westwood Studios. With the defeat of France and her allies by Russia and America, the Brotherhood of Nod manage to use the anger of France to establish itself as the leader of the Sorelist nations thirty years after the events of the first game. The story of Kane is further fleshed out, revealing his role as the possible "Messiah" of the world, though from what is not told. However, the Brotherhood looses again to the forces of GDI, who take it upon themselves to rebuild France and the rest of the war-torn world in their own image. An enormous hit, C&C2 sold 200,000 copies in its first week, making it one of the largest initial releases in video game history, and went on to sell over three million. Although some features promised by developers where not included (due to difficulty in programming, not a rushed schedule as many claimed), these were later fixed in the expansion, Crisis on the Rhine.
  • Civilization 3 (1999); An updated version of the popular turn-based strategy game of the same name first released in 1990. New gameplay elements, such as units, techs, civilizations and wonders were added, making it one of the most popular games of the later half of the decade.

2000's

The trends of the previous two decades started to reverse themselves: consoles became increasingly popular and important, while the PC began to loose ground. Efforts by the US Department of Communication to censor several video games, especially in the wake of the New York District 18 School Massacre, lead to a huge backlash by First Amendment defenders, while conservative "Family Rights" groups charged ahead, trying to ban all violence and sexuality from games. Ultimately, Congress stepped in and gave the DoC the right to "rate" the games based on their suitability for audiences, ranging from E for Everyone to M for Mature. It also gave the Department rights to legally charge retailers for selling games to children and young adults that were under the minimum age requirements.

As PC gaming took a nosedive, Westwood Studios and Valve helped redefine the use of intellectual property in gaming; in a legal partnership, Westwood was given the rights to make a RTM game based on Valve's Half Life Series, while Valve would make an FPS based on Westwood's Command & Conquer, as well as sharing resources to develop the "Steam" platform of selling games online. Both games were smash hits, and Steam was immensely popular, and soon many other companies began to work together to branch out from their own genres and to fund new developments.

Notable Games

PC Game Fallout 2

Fallout 2 Box cover

  • Fallout 2 (2000); is the sequel to its predecessor, Fallout 1, takes place 20 years after Fallout 1, and 120 after the Great War in the early 2000's. The story picks up, where the first one left off, as the Vault Dweller left Vault 13, he finds the Boneyard, a post-apocalyptic version of St. Louis. He helps defeat a techno-addicted group called the Brotherhood of Steel, which has descendants from the present U.S Army. This would be the last game created by Interplay in the series, as in 2004, an established Confederate company called Morrelan Studios bought the rights for the Fallout series.
  • Command & Conquer 3: First Contact] (2001); a sequel to the popular Tactical Military Game Command & Conquer released in 1994. The Brotherhood of Nod continues to mourn the loss of its leader Kane in a fierce attack by its enemy, the Global Defense Initiative, who now control most of the world despite constant guerrilla attacks, and rapidly becoming the despotic, militaristic rule it swore to destroy by 2025. The emergence of an alien substance via meteor that quickly begins spreading over Earth allows the Brotherhood to emerge as a prime broker of the resource rich but hazardous material dubbed Tiberium (after the river it was first found near), allowing them to rebuild their strength and take on GDI again. Considered a stunning story while perfecting the Tactical Military Game formula, Westwood reached new heights with C&C3, and its quickly released expansion Tiberium Wars.
  • Sword and Scrolls III: Deadheart (2003); The third game of the popular Sword and Scrolls series by Morrelan Studios. Returning to the mystical land of Skyrim, the story takes place during a time of civil war, and how the player's character, a disgraced warrior, eventually comes to posses a weapon that could turn the tide of the war in either factions favor, or, if the player chooses, to establish their own army and take Skyrim themselves. Despite glitches and bugs that render the game unplayable at times, Deadheart became one of the most popular games of 2003, and launched Morrelan Studios into the upper echelon of developing.
  • Command & Conquer Red Alert (2003); With the purchase of developer Victory Games based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Westwood Studios allowed their newest addition to change their partially completed RTM game to a Command & Conquer themed product. Victory Games, now Westwood Pennsylvania, developed "Red Alert" in response. Taking place in an Alternate Universe where the Communist Revolution in Russia succeeds and all of war-torn Europe unites into a super alliance to prevent war in Europe again, thanks to mysterious Time Traveler's, later found out to be agents of the Brotherhood of Nod trying to change the outcome of First Tiberium War. Russia is now the leader of a world wide Communist Alliance, and begin a brutal war against the Soviet Russian vast manpower and the European "dieselpunk" robots and technology that was already more advanced (and crazy) than real life, Red Alert quickly became one of the most popular Command & Conquer games released, and two more games would be released in this series.
  • Hearts of Iron (2004): a "Grand Strategy" PC game produced by Russian video game company Paradox Interactive. The player can pick one of the many countries in the world in 1933, and play them through the time period of the Third Global War and into 1963, the start of the Dual Powers Conflict. Most well known for its steep learning curve and its macro strategy viewpoint, Hearts of Iron was a minor success especially when it was released in North America and Europe. It was also well known for being banned from being sold in Japan due to the possibility of "terrorists" in the game (this game being released five years after the 9/10/99 Attacks. Neither Hearts of Iron' or any of its successors would not be released in France until 2013.
  • Command & Conquer 4: Battle for Earth (2005); another sequel to the popular Real Time Military game Command & Conquer a decade earlier. The story details the bitter struggle of the ideological fighters of the Brotherhood of Nod and the militaristic GDI in the year 2049 when a third faction, the alien Scrin, invade Earth to take over the planet and its rich, rapidly growing, and dangerous Tiberium fields. Although most critics and fans enjoyed the game and its expansion pack Kane's Wrath that introduced the "Forgotten" faction of mutated humans, many could see that the the series was starting to run out of steam, and the announcement of the final game for 2007 confirmed this.
  • SimCity 4 (2005); The next installment of the SimCity franchise was praised as a great game, with new features including regions that the player could play different sized cities in that were all interconnected. As well, extensive modding support was featured, and gave the game immense replayability.
  • Command & Conquer Renegade (2006) The first product of the joint partnership between Westwood Studios and Valve Corporation, Renegade was the first FPS game in the famed RTM Command & Conquer series originally made by Westwood. It was a gamble if the fans of C&C would want to try a different genre from what they are used to, but the answer was yes. The result of the joint partnership, where Westwood and Valve would share resources, personal and intellectual property to broaden their respective bases, and work on genres that they excel in (Westwood and RTM, Valve with FPS), and expand into different worlds.
  • Half Life: Opposing Force (2006): The second product of the joint partnership between Valve Corporation and Westwood Studios, Opposing Force is a Real Time Military game based on the Half Life universe. After the success of Command & Conquer Renegade, it was revealed that Westwood was building their own game, where factions and units of Half Life and Half Life 2 were featured. RTM fans were mildly optimistic, while Half Life fans were stunned and fearful of what the game would turn out to be. However, like Renegade, Opposing Force was a success, validating the joint partnership between the two developers.
  • Sword and Scrolls IV: Imperium (2007); fourth game of the popular Morrelan studios RPG hit, Imperium became the best game of the rather lackluster year of 2007. Taking the story in a rather unexpected direction, Imperium started with the character "influenced" to killing the Emperor of Skyrim, and the search for the reason and revenge, leading to a climatic duel with one of the most famous villains in video gaming, the Grand Wizard Bloodmoon, voiced by Donald Sutherland. As other big developers like Westwood, Valve and Interplay had no major release planned for the year, Imperium quickly reached the top of the charts. Despite the success, Imperium became infamous for the "Black Death" virus that hackers had sneaked into one of the many patches released for the game. Working with the US Department of Communication, Federal Police Service, and other international organizations, the virus was traced despite attempts by the hackers to remain hidden, and five were arrested on felony charges. Despite this technological failure, Morrelan Studios was able to recover and fixed the problem.
  • Command & Conquer 5: Twilight War (2008); the last sequel of the hit Command & Conquer franchise, C&C5 detailed the epic last clash of the four factions of the previous games: the Brotherhood of Nod, the Global Defense Initiative, the Forgotten, and the alien Scrin, and ultimate revelation of the prime character Kane's master plan that was interwoven through all the games. Although delayed from its originally planned Thanksgiving 2007 release due to technical issues, C&C5 is considered the pinnacle of storytelling and gameplay, Westwood Studios at last allowed the main storyline of the series to end on a high note, while games that promised to add to the story have been announced, the first of which is expected in 2009.
Fallout 3 cover art

Fallout 3 cover art.

  • Fallout 3 (2008); is the third installment of the popular Fallout-series, and takes place some 100 years after the first two Fallouts. This game, however, is not a direct sequel of Fallout 1 and 2, as the plot line takes a turn off to Washington D.C. In 2181, a man emerges from another vault, Vault 101, and his son soon followed, the player would take the shoes of the son, who would take an adventure throughout former Washington D.C, passing some famous landmarks, such as the White House, Capitol, and George A. Custer Memorial, while striving to defeat the Emperor, an insane scientist form before the war who locked himself in a stasis chamber to survive, and is now bent on dominating the Capitol Wastelands, and then the world. This game was the first of the series to be developed by Morrelan Studios, which bought the rights in 2005, and featured a pseudo-FPS/RPG game play that was unique, even to previous Morrelan titles, such as the Sword and Scrolls IV: Imperium.
  • Command & Conquer: New Beginning (2009); the first of the "expanded story" of the popular Command & Conquer franchise that takes place before the first game, telling more of the back story of the mysterious figure known as Kane. Considered a semi-sequel to Twilight War, the story left much to be desired, and fans began to question if Westwood Studios was simply trying to milk the C&C franchise for all it was worth, especially coming so soon after the last release. A second "expanded story" game was put on hold after this, though Westwood would not confirm or deny if it was cancelled or not until 2011, when it was announced that further games in the series wouldn't be released in the near future.
  • Minecraft (2009)' one of the most unique and ground breaking independent games in years, Minecraft could easily be called a creative sandbox, but with survival elements unique to anything else seen before. Created by a group of programmers centered in Australasia, lead by Julian Assange, the game was first released in July 2009 as a work in progress Alpha. With help from thousands of testers, the game entered Beta stage in September 2010, and was finally released in June 2011. As of August 2012, the game has sold over five million PC copies, with another three million on different consoles.

2010's

By the late 2000s and into the early 2010s, consoles became more and more popular, with many big name titles being developed, and increasingly powerful systems, peaking in 2011 with the "Seventh" Generation GameSystem 4 from Clearwater Technology, the SEGA Blue Box, and Horizon's Pathway2. However, with graphics hitting the "peak" and the big developers where less likely to take risks with millions of dollars in play, so mostly reboots, sequels and movie-tie ins were made. However, the Steam system, as well as Horizon's own "Pathway Arcade" system where "indie" games have a shot to be released to a wider audience than ever before.

Notable Games

Portal logo

Portal logo.

  • Command & Conquer Renegade 2: (2010); The disappointment of New Beginning clouded the launch of Renegade 2. Westwood was prepared to pull the plug and focus resources on non C&C titles, but Valve was committed to finishing this FPS title. When it was released on time for August 2010, many fans of C&C and Valve saw the breaking of "Valve Time" as a warning sign. However, their fears proved ill-founded when they were delivered a top notch game with an excellent story, focused on a parallel story that took place in the third game, First Contact, with the player character fighting the Scrin Invasion from the point of view as a Nod character, which was lauded as a great change of pace. The game, however, was not enough to convince Westwood to develop new C&C titles, though later they would say they were open to licensing it to other developers to try.
  • Portal (2010); considered one of the most innovative games in years, Valve's Portal was a huge gamble, a first person puzzle game where the player has to try to get the to the exit of "Test Chambers" of the mysterious Black Mesa Laboratories Computer Aided Enrichment Center through the use of two linked portals that can be placed on most walls, ceilings and floors. Taking place in the Half Life series of games some undisclosed time after the "Aperture Science Incident" of the first game, Portal's story mostly revolves around the antagonism between the the mute player and the AI running the facility, GLaMOS, (a slight dig at Valve owner's former employer, Microsoft and their operating system) and ends with the AI trying to kill the player, but escaping through the abandoned facility to confront her. While a short game, only about two to three hours long, it was an enormous hit, winning the undying loyalty of millions who loved the Companion Cube and the cake jokes. Portal was also expanded for a couple years afterward through the selling or giving free DLC's (downloadable content) in the form of entirely new levels that explored the unpolished story further. A sequel was announced in 2012, but many assumed it would be a few years before it is completed.
  • Fallout: New Confederacy (2011): On the heels of the popular Fallout 3 Morrelan Studios stepped up and decided to add on to the franchise, and setting it in the Confederacy and how it survived the Nuclear Armageddon of 1999. The former "North Confederacy" and the "South Confederacy" did not reunify, and Vaults were only constructed in the North. But when Vault 66 opened, the Confederate Nationalists within emerged, and began a project to reunify the former Confederate States. The player takes the role of a scout of Vault 66, called the Diplomat, who is sent out to woo survivor communities to unite, but quickly realizes that the South Wasteland is alive and well of mutants, ghouls and multiple, fiercely independent survivor states. But the Diplomat soon realizes that he must convince the Vault to not try to take over the rest, or wash the irradiated Wastelands in blood. The game was released on February 2, 2012, and soon became one of the most popular games of the year, receiving high ratings, although some claimed that the game was a bit of a "square peg in a round hole," with the Southern game developer trying to fit the game into the universe that others had created.
  • Sword and Scrolls V: Ostenhold (2012): The next game of the fabled Sword and Scrolls franchise takes place in an all new location, the German-mythological inspired Ostenhold, where the Empire of previous games is expanding. One of the most popular games of the year, Ostenhold quickly captured the gaming public's imagination, but the limits of the game engine that had first been made for Sword and Scrolls III: Deadheart" and upgraded since was showing its age.
  • SimCity 5 (2013): After 8 years, Westwood-Maxis released a new game for the vaunted SimCity franchise. New efforts to develop an interconnected region of cities, which, in a first for the franchise, can be both multi-player and single player, added a whole new dimension to the game. When a development memo for the game was leaked in early 2012 that it was to feature only internet enabled multi-player, many fans cried foul, and set the internet ablaze with acquisitions of Digital Copyright Management Software (DCMS) that could cripple they playability of the game, followed by demands that Westwood-Maxis change this. Westwood quickly started damage control, and announced that, while the team wished to pursue a multi-player experience, they value their fans more. While the online multi-player aspect remains, a single player addition was added, as was the idea that the entire game should be forced on the internet all the time. Now, only the multi-player requires internet, and even then only during the saving and loading of the game to the servers. While fans were still uncomfortable with the drive to force multi-player on a franchise that was exclusively single player before, the addition of single player was enough to reassure the fans. As well, in breaking with tradition, the game was going to be offered on multiple digital platforms including Gameon from Microsoft and Konnect from EuroEntertainment, not just Steam. A Beta was released in October 2012, which was opened to the general public, and resulted in a very public crash of the servers that Westwood established for SimCity 5 after only 15 minutes of availability. The Beta was put on hold, and over three times as many servers were added for the restart of the Beta, which was almost enough to handle the capacity, though more servers were added in the following days. The second Beta showed some flaws with the game, and the release was put off from December 2012 to March 2013 to allow time to fix the issues. When it was finally released, it came out to glowing reviews, and over 1.3 million copies, over 55% digital, were sold in the first week.
  • Command & Conquer: Modern Warfare (2013): The newest addition to the C&C franchise was announced in late 2012, three years after the last Westwood Studios developed C&C, New Beginning was released to lower reviews than any previous game. In the three years since, Westwood announced that a new approach to the tried and true Real Time Military game was to be announced. Instead of trying to innovate game play, Westwood decided to produce a new engine and develop the first episodic RTM game. Modern Warfare, unlike its predecessors, takes place in a modern setting, with three starting factions: the US, France and a fictional terrorist organization called the World Freedom Alliance. The episodic nature allows the game to include new factions, units and subplots in future installments. The game was announced to be released for Thanksgiving 2013.
  • Fallout 4 (2015): An upcoming game from Morrelan Studios to follow up on the wildly successful Fallout 3. As of now, the only confirmed detail is that Fallout 4 takes place in the area and ruins of "Empire Republic," a place mentioned in previous games and hinted to be New York City.

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