A common complaint levelled against big publishers like Activision and Electronic Arts is that they milk their franchises for all they're worth. It's an easy allegation to make, but in EA's case, it (sadly!) doesn't hold much water.
Because if EA really wanted to milk its franchises for all they're worth, we'd be drowning in them.
Founded all the way back in 1982, EA has not only managed to cultivate a great number of classic game series of its own in that time, but perhaps more importantly has also bought a number of developers, thus buying those studio's intellectual properties as well.
The first external developer EA brought into the fold was Batteries Included, back in 1987, and since then over thirty studios have been bought by the world's former #1 publisher.
Among that thirty were some duds. Yet among them were also some of the finest video game developers to ever put a game on a shelf, such as Origin (bought in 1992, and home to Wing Commander and Ultima), Westwood (1998, Command & Conquer), Bullfrog (1995, Syndicate), DICE (2006, Battlefield), Maxis (1997, SimCity) and Criterion (2004, Burnout), just to name a few.
Those studios and more, combined with EA's own internal output, mean the publisher is sitting on a veritable treasure trove of classic video game franchises, many of which have not been heard from for years, and sometimes decades.
The bad news is that sucks, because many of them should be parading around in the limelight, not stuck in EA's basement. The good news is that, if any of the above games spark an interest (or rekindle an old flame), a whole swathe of them have just become available for purchase over on Good Old Games.
Above you'll find a gallery of just some of those games sadly gathering dust in EA's back catalogue. If there's something important or memorable that I've left out, let me know in the comments below!
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.
The Strike Series - Spanning five games during the 1990's, EA's own Strike games boasted amazing graphics and unique isometric, almost open-world gameplay as you completed missions in the name of freedom, liberty and expensive attack helicopters. The last official game in the series was 1997's Nuclear Strike, although a sixth game, once called Future Strike, would eventually be released as Future Cop: L.A.P.D.
Wing Commander - Spanning four numbered games, a few spinoffs (like Privateer, a classic in its own right) and some lamentable attempts at arcade gaming, Wing Commander is one of the all-time great science fiction franchises. Yet its genre, space combat, is about as unfashionable as it gets in this day and age, perhaps explaining why it's still (remember, we don't mention Wing Commander Arena) tucked away in the basement.
Road Rash - The perfect blend of racing and face-punching, Road Rash was supposed to have received a recent rehash, but that's sadly come to nothing. All we have is memories, then, of a game where not only were you driving an expensive motorcycle very fast, but punching other riders in the head while you did it. What more could you want in a racer?
The Crusader Series - Amazing graphics, amazing music, awful full-motion video actors, the Crusader series had it all. Except, it seems, longevity, its success and popularity as a unique action series (and one on PC to boot!) earning it a place not in the limelight, but in the basement. Maybe we can blame his tin can suit. It's looking a little...dated.
Syndicate - A game that still looks great to this day. Seriously, that visual design, with the buildings and the lighting and the trenchcoats, I could tell you it was from 2011 and you'd totally believe me. A new Syndicate game is rumoured to be in development at Starbreeze, but until we actually see it, it remains the basement. Remember, we've been threatened with Syndicate remakes before.
Ultima - In a world where RPGs can still be big business (see Elder Scrolls), it's a shame to see one of the titans of the genre brought back as a...casual strategy game. With its epic scale and open-ended gameplay, Ultima deserves to be brought back, and brought back properly.
System Shock - One of the most terrifying and immersive game experiences of all time, the System Shock redefined (and in many ways still serves as the ultimate example) of how to do both science fiction and horror in a video game without making it seem cheesy or childish. Really needs to make a comeback, and make one soon.