EA explains botched decision to remove Ultima Underworld and Syndicate from GOG

Syndicate Plus
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

In June, the aged-but-great games Ultima Underworld and Syndicate were removed from GOG, at the "publisher's request," that publisher being Electronic Arts. It was a loss, as a matter of principle if nothing else: While both games are pushing 30 years old, they're also benchmark games in their genres. But then, six weeks later, they were suddenly returned.

It was all a bit strange, and the only explanation from EA was a vague acknowledgement that somebody dropped the ball: "It seems that twenty years on there’s still plenty of love for these titles so we’re pleased to confirm that effective immediately they’ll be available again on GOG," it said at the time. 

Speaking more recently to GamesIndustry, however, executive vice president Chris Bruzzo went a little deeper into what happened, the short being that EA really misread the room.

"When making decisions that affect players we take the time to review exactly what the potential impacts are and whether they serve the players' best interests," Bruzzo said. "When we delisted Syndicate and Ultima Underworld we missed that step and so didn't fully consider the players perspective."

The backlash was enough to prompt EA to walk the whole thing back, and to run the month-long giveaway as a sort of mea culpa for stressing everyone out. Bruzzo also promised that EA will ensure "that going forward we have a process in place that considers the player perspective in listing decisions."

Echoing the explanation provided by EA when the games were returned to GOG, he said, "We saw so much love for these titles, more than twenty years after they originally launched we realised that we had to make them available again."

Ultima Underworld 1 and 2, Syndicate Plus, and Syndicate Wars are all free on GOG, to take and keep, until September 3.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.