Although the Oddworld series only had a small amount of involvement with EA, the publisher may have caused some serious problems for the franchise. Developer Oddworld Inhabitants hit gold with Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, while Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee failed to match the success of the previous games but still kept things ticking along.
EA would become involved in the next game in the series, however, taking over as publisher for Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. The game was a critical success, but the sales were extremely underwhelming at launch. The reason for this was lain at the feet of EA by Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning, who accused EA of sabotaging the game by failing with distribution and marketing support. EA tried to purchase Oddworld Inhabitants off the back of the game's failure, and the eventual fallout of Stranger's Wrath left Lanning without much faith in the industry and Oddworld Inhabitants without the financial clout to continue making games.
Things seem to be getting back on track of Oddworld now, with the release of Oddysee remake Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! in 2014 and the development of Exoddus remake Oddworld: Soulstorm on the horizon. However, were it not for the misstep seen with Stranger's Wrath there's no telling how far Oddworld Inhabitants could have gone.
Need for Speed
Need for Speed was once one of the best racing franchises in the world of video games. The series was able to shift from racing simulation to arcade-style fun with ease, and across the series' history Need for Speed was a mainstay of different generations of gaming. From the original run of games through to spin-offs like Need for Speed: Rivals, the franchise managed to generally achieve a high level of quality.
There were a few missteps along the way, with EA changing developers for Need for Speed with a mixed degree of success. However, the last pair of releases have seen Need for Speed lose serious ground on its competitors. The Ghost Games-developed 2015 reboot failed to make an impression, but it was 2017's Need for Speed: Payback that really damaged the long-term future of the franchise.
Although the title made some improvements over its predecessor, EA's move towards a loot box model caused serious problems for the title's progression system, causing the game to be a critical disappointment, while its microtransaction mechanics caused anger among long-term fans of the franchise. At the end of it all, 2017 can be considered the year that EA killed Need for Speed, and a real turnaround is required for the franchise to reach its previous heights.
Another Bullfrog Productions series, Syndicate managed to capture the imaginations of strategy fans through its dark and brutal cyberpunk world and well-developed story. The first game, released in 1993, was a smash hit, and follow-up Syndicate Wars did well to continue the series' brand of tactical play.
After Syndicate Wars, everything went quiet on the Syndicate front. For a while, Bullfrog was working on another game set in the world of Syndicate, but with EA suggesting that the company should focus on guaranteed successes the title was eventually cancelled. When Bullfrog was shelved in 2001, that seemed to be the end of Syndicate.
However, EA did give the Syndicate franchise a misjudged return back in 2012. Rather than bringing back the series as another strategy game, instead EA decided to shift the property into the shooter realm - a gamble that did not pay off. Although critics were moderately impressed with the effort by developer Starbreeze Studios, the game sold poorly, and that seems to be the end of Syndicate aside from crowdfunded spiritual successor Satellite Reign.
The Simpsons has not always had the best of luck with video game adaptations, with a number of ropey platformers seeing release in the 1990s alongside some true classics such as The Simpsons arcade game by Konami. However, there was a small run of well-remembered games in the early 2000s, in the form of the Crazy Taxi-esque The Simpsons: Road Rage and the GTA-inspired The Simpsons: Hit and Run.
In 2005, EA gained the rights to make video games based on The Simpsons. Two years later, The Simpsons Game was released, developed by EA Redwood Shores (who would later go on to become Visceral Games). The game did fairly well with critics thanks to its sharp writing, and was a sales success for EA. The future looked bright for The Simpsons under the wing of EA.
However, EA shifted the focus of its use of the license. Rather than further big-budget games, with a sequel to The Simpsons Game cancelled in 2011, the company instead turned its attention to the mobile market, releasing a string of barely memorable mobile titles. Among these is the controversial The Simpsons: Tapped Out, which includes some of the worst examples of microtransactions in the mobile scene. Hopefully, another major game based on The Simpsons will one day see release.