Electronic Arts purchased its first outside development studio, Distinctive Software, in 1991. Based near Vancouver, British Columbia, Distinctive had previously worked on the Hardball and Test Drive series’ for EA’s competitor Accolade. After joining EA, they set to work on several of EA’s sports franchises and created the long-running Need for Speed series. Distinctive was later renamed EA Canada and is now one of the largest studios in Electronic Arts’ organization.
In 1992, Richard Garriott’s Origin Systems joined the fold. The Austin-based studio would go on to develop new volumes in Garriott’s Ultima and Chris Roberts’ Wing Commander series as well as the groundbreaking Ultima Online. Other important games from Origin included Crusader, Privateer, and Warren Spector’s System Shock. AH-64D Longbow, the first installment in the Jane’s Combat Simulations series, was also developed at Origin.
Despite its successes, Origin had difficulty integrating with EA and in 1999, after the release of Ultima IX, Garriott left the company. Later, several of Origin’s high-profile projects were canceled and the company was dissolved in 2004.