Pandemic Studios just announced that they’re working on a brand new Mercenaries game- Mercs Inc. It’s the first game that will be developed by the remaining team in their new digs at EALA.
“We are very excited to announce a new instalment in the popular Mercenaries series because it demonstrates our continued commitment to Pandemic’s rich catalogue of intellectual properties,” said Nick Earl, Senior VP and Group General Manager at EA. “From the studio at EALA, a core creative team is forging new ground and conceptualizing new ideas for this exciting franchise.”
Mercs 2 was a really solid game (albeit a buggy one), so this is good news. Still, it might be surprising to anyone who heard about Pandemic Studios being shuttered last week. They truly got shafted. See, soon after becoming CEO of EA John Riccitiello paid an absolutely ridiculous amount of money (860 million!) a couple of years ago for the acquisition of Pandemic and BioWare. It was the most extravagant purchase of a studio since Microsoft picked up Rare for 375 million, and we know how well that turned out.
The greatest thing? Riccitiello used to be the CEO of VG Holdings (parent company of Pandemic and Bioware) and in that massive deal of buying up his former company he made almost five million dollars just for himself. Talk about conflict of interest. Don’t suppose that money could have been used to save some jobs, eh?
Around 200 people at Pandemic lost their jobs last week, and the rest were integrated into EALA. BioWare doesn’t seem to be in any trouble yet (Mass Effect was a big hit, and Dragon Age has been doing solid business) but Pandemic’s few modestly selling titles (Mercs 2 and Lord of the Rings Conquest, among others) didn’t exactly rake in the money. Still, it’s absolutely fucked up that they would pick up a company and only allow them two years before dumping them. That’s the dev time for one game.
Still, we have The Saboteur to look forward to next month (from all reports it’s amazing), and all of the remaining Pandemic folks are working on their next games, so at least there’s that. Expect more news on Mercs Inc as we hear it.