We're got more EA news for Wing Commander fans. Last month we reported that the Origin Access service was being rebranded as EA Play. At the time, the Origin name was to be retained as the virtual storefront for EA games. That has since changed, and the company has announced that it will be renamed the EA Desktop App going forward. For the time being, Origin still stands, but the EA Desktop App is now in beta testing and will eventually become the primary portal. As you can imagine, this has kicked off a round of "EA Kills Origin" headlines that gives us mild flashbacks to 2004. Ever-optimistic fans have wondered aloud if this could be a move intended to free up the name for a reboot of Origin Systems, but this is obviously unlikely. However, on a much more positive note, Microsoft and EA have jointly confirmed that subscribers to the popular Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service will soon be getting free access to the basic level of EA Play. This means that a vast new segment of gamers will suddenly find WC1 through WC4 and Privateer in their libraries. They'll get a lot of other games too so they won't all jump on Wing Commander at once, but we're very excited for the potential influx of new pilots!
We are teaming up with Electronic Arts to provide Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PC members with an EA Play membership at no additional cost starting this holiday. This means Ultimate members can enjoy EA Play on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and Windows 10 PCs, and Xbox Game Pass for PC members get EA Play on Windows 10.
Formerly known as EA Access and Origin Access, EA Play will bring the best of EA to Game Pass, including:
- More than 60 of EA’s biggest and best console and PC games like FIFA 20, Titanfall 2 and Need for Speed Heat, as well as titles from some of EA’s most popular franchises like Battlefield, Mass Effect, Skate, and The Sims.
- Exclusive in-game challenges and rewards, special member-only content, discounts on EA digital purchases for DLC, games, and more.
- Access to trials of games for up to 10 hours from best-loved franchises and top titles like Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21.
- Not only will EA Play titles be available on console and PC, this holiday, some of the best EA Play games will also be available for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play on Android devices via the cloud at no additional charge.
There's some unfortunate news out of Fairfax, Virginia today. Mythic Entertainment was closed by Electronic Arts. GameSpot suggests that the move appears to have been a sudden decision considering that new job listings having been posted within the last few weeks. However, CIC readers may have seen the writing on the wall. Their flagship Warhammer Online MMO was shut down six months ago, and the Dungeon Keeper game they released this past spring got scathing reviews due to its tedious free-to-play model. Perhaps most telling, its relatively steady revenue drivers Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot were recently shifted to a 3rd party developer as well.
If you're a recent follower of our site, you might not be familiar with how Mythic has been the carrier of Origin's torch for some time. After OSI in Austin was shut down in February 2004, much of their old material was temporarily held in California and then found a home in Mythic's storage closets. Due to their success with DAoC, Mythic was also tasked with continued operation of Origin's longest running game, Ultima Online. They even set up a classy dedication page that commemorated all the worlds that Origin created. In 2008, the CIC Staff got the lucky privilege of visiting their studio building to carefully archive and document their stored Origin materials, some of which we've been cleared to release. You can also check out our fun photos of the archiving trip here.
In recent times, there was a glimmer of hope that attention might shift back towards the Wing Commander series. Their studio lobby was redecorated with Wing Commander memorabilia and Mythic's Paul Barnett helped push into Origin's past, which resulted in the release of Ultima Forever. Alas, the next Wing Commander game will come from a different direction. Our sympathies go out to all the displaced employees. Thank you for helping protect Origin's legacy for the past decade!
A fan has died. Wayne Howard, aka Eagle One, operated #Wing-Commander on the DALnet (later BeyondIRC) for over ten years. It is no secret that Eagle and the CIC staff did not get along; what's less often remembered is that we were once contemporaries and friends. Eagle, ace, Bearcat, Skyfox and I ran #Wing-Commander together for several happy years in our youths.
It's hard to memorialize someone who didn't like you much. I felt bad about the situation and tried to contact him many times over the years, but was always ignored. I regret now not having done more. Nevertheless, Mr. Howard had a huge impact on my own life - and he helped create what we know as Wing Commander fandom today... including the friendships that I consider the most important in my life. I will endeavor to remember him as the kind gentleman who sent his friends candy at Christmas and who surprised me with a phone call when I was a scared boy preparing for dangerous surgery.
I don't know how many of the #Wing-Commander crew are still around, but please leave your memories at the forum - we'll collect them in the tributes section alongside those to the developers who created our universe. Eag deserves that much.
For twenty two years Origin Systems set the tone for the computer gaming. Ultima, Wing Commander and dozens of others set the gold standard for which the rest of the industry could only hope to catch up. This era has finally come to an end as Electronic Arts readies an announcement that it will shut down the Austin-based Origin studio.
This is not the end for Ultima or Wing Commander. Ultima Online will now be run from California, and development of Ultima X will continue on the west coast. Hopes that another Wing Commander game would be developed in Austin were dashed long ago; the longtime belief that a California-based EA team would develop the next Wing Commander title may, ironically, be bolstered by this news.
What it is, however, is a tremendous moral loss on all fronts. Origin Systems will always be the ultimate symbol of gaming's greatest days, and its dissolution to a faceless corporate entity is, sadly, equally symbolic of the world today. Origin entertained, challenged and inspired our generation in a way that seems impossible today. Though the individuals who developed our games long ago moved on to greater careers, the very existence of the company itself continued to stand for something special; something amazing.
The CIC will continue to dedicate itself to Origin's legacy - we will redouble our efforts to archive anything and everything related to the company. We will strike to make the world remember what Origin meant. I wanted to end with a quote - something pithy and literary to express the meaning of such an ending. I came up with only this:
Because it hasn't been updated in months, SLVault (and FLVault), formerly Lanced.Net, is closing for good on April 27th. The site, run by ShadowLight, was the first (and for a long time the best) StarLancer news site -- we enjoyed a friendly rivalry with them for some time... it's a real shame to see it gone for good.