Acclaim Entertainment

Last updated

Acclaim Entertainment, Inc.
Public
Traded as OTC Pink: AKLM
Industry Video game industry
Fate Chapter 7 bankruptcy
Founded1987;32 years ago (1987) in Oyster Bay, New York, U.S.
Founders
DefunctSeptember 1, 2004 (2004-09-01)
Headquarters,
U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
  • Rodney Cousens (CEO)
  • Gerard Agoglia (CFO)
Number of employees
585 (2004)

Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher based in Glen Cove, New York. Originally formed by Greg Fischbach, Robert Holmes and Jim Scoroposki out of an Oyster Bay storefront in 1987, the company established a worldwide development team through a series of acquisitions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After poor financial returns in their 2003 fiscal year, Acclaim filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in September 2004. Properties owned by Acclaim were subsequently auctioned off to various parties.

A video game developer is a software developer that specializes in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range from one person who undertakes all tasks to a large business with employee responsibilities split between individual disciplines, such as programming, design, art, testing, etc. Most game development companies have video game publisher financial and usually marketing support. Self-funded developers are known as independent or indie developers and usually make indie games.

A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that have been developed either internally by the publisher or externally by a video game developer. As with book publishers or publishers of DVD movies, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising.

Glen Cove, New York City in New York, United States

Glen Cove is a city in Nassau County, New York, United States, on the North Shore of Long Island. As of the United States 2010 Census, the city population was 26,964.

Contents

History

In the early 1980s, Greg Fischbach was employed by American video game company Activision, where he worked together with Robert Holmes and Jim Scoroposki. He left Activision to join RCA Records, which was subsequently acquired by Bertelsmann and Fischbach found himself unemployed. In 1987, he met with Scoroposki in Oyster Bay, where Scoroposki owned a sales rep company, to discuss a possible shared venture. After Scoroposki suggested that the two should re-enter the video game business, they contacted Holmes to join them, and the three jointly founded Acclaim Entertainment. [1] In its initial years, Acclaim was exclusively a video game publisher, either farming out the creation of its video games to external developers or localizing existing video games from overseas. But as it grew, it purchased some independent studios, including Iguana Entertainment of Austin, Texas; Probe Entertainment of London, England; and Sculptured Software of Salt Lake City, Utah. [2] [3]

Gregory Edmund Fischbach is an American Internet entrepreneur, attorney, business executive, co-founder of video communication and content sharing company Rabbit and video game publisher Acclaim Entertainment (1987), he had managed the company for 16 years as the CEO.

Activision American video game publisher

Activision Publishing, Inc. is an American video game publisher based in Santa Monica, California. It currently serves as the publishing business for its parent company, Activision Blizzard, and consists of several subsidiary studios. Activision is one of the largest third-party video game publishers in the world and was the top United States publisher in 2016.

RCA Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. It is one of Sony Music's four flagship labels, alongside RCA's former long-time rival Columbia Records, Arista Records, and Epic Records. The label has released multiple genres of music, including pop, classical, rock, hip hop, electronic, R&B, blues, jazz, and country. Its name is derived from the initials of its defunct parent company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). It was fully acquired by Bertelsmann in 1986, making it a part of Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG); however, RCA Records became a part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a merger between BMG and Sony Music, in 2004, and was acquired by the latter in 2008, after the dissolution of Sony BMG and the restructuring of Sony Music. It is the second oldest record label in American history, after sister label Columbia Records.

The name of the company was picked because it had to be alphabetically above the co-founder's former place of employment, Activision, and also had to be alphabetically above Accolade (another company formed by ex-Activision employees). This was a common formula for picking names of new companies that were founded by ex-Activision employees (the founders of Activision used this formula when they left Atari).

Infogrames North America, Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher based in San Jose, California. The company was founded as Accolade in November 1984 by Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead, who had previously co-founded Activision in October 1979.

Atari brand name owned by Atari Interactive

Atari is a brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972, currently by Atari Interactive, a subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA. The original Atari, Inc., founded in Sunnyvale, California in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, was a pioneer in arcade games, home video game consoles, and home computers. The company's products, such as Pong and the Atari 2600, helped define the electronic entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.

Many of Acclaim's products used licenses from popular comics, television series and movies. [4] They were also responsible for the ports of many of Midway's arcade games in the early to mid-1990s, including the Mortal Kombat series. They also published some games from other companies that at the time of publication did not have an American branch, such as Technōs Japan's Double Dragon II: The Revenge and Taito's Bust-a-Move series.

Comics Creative work in which pictures and text convey information such as narratives

Comics is a medium used to express ideas through images, often combined with text or other visual information. Frequently, comics takes the form of sequences of panels of images. Often textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. The size and arrangement of panels contribute to narrative pacing. Cartooning and similar forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics; fumetti is a form which uses photographic images. Common forms include comic strips, editorial and gag cartoons, and comic books. Since the late 20th century, bound volumes such as graphic novels, comic albums, and tankōbon have become increasingly common, while online webcomics have proliferated in the 21st century with the advent of the internet.

Television Telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Film sequence of images that give the impression of movement

Film, also called movie or motion picture, is a medium used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty or atmosphere by the means of recorded or programmed moving images along with other sensory stimulations. The word "cinema", short for cinematography, is often used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, and to the art form that is the result of it.

Through much of the 1990s Acclaim were one of the most successful publishers of console video games in the world. In the financial year ending August 1994 they saw a profit of $481 million, and this figure rose to $585 million the following year. [4] [5]

In 1995, the company acquired Sculptured Software, Iguana Entertainment and Probe Entertainment and the companies switched to the first-party development studio, known as Acclaim Studios from 1999 to 2004. [3] [6] Acclaim's gaming business was further expanded with the purchase of exclusive rights to publish Taito's games in the Western Hemisphere. [5] The company also had a motion capture studio built into their headquarters, making them the first video game company to have an in-house motion capture studio. [7]

Western Hemisphere half of the Earth that is west of the prime meridian and east of 180° longitude

The Western Hemisphere is a geographical term for the half of Earth which lies west of the prime meridian and east of the antimeridian. The other half is called the Eastern Hemisphere.

Motion capture tracking procedure which makes it possible to detect any type of movement and convert it to a digital format

Motion capture is the process of recording the movement of objects or people. It is used in military, entertainment, sports, medical applications, and for validation of computer vision and robotics. In filmmaking and video game development, it refers to recording actions of human actors, and using that information to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation. When it includes face and fingers or captures subtle expressions, it is often referred to as performance capture. In many fields, motion capture is sometimes called motion tracking, but in filmmaking and games, motion tracking usually refers more to match moving.

A less significant aspect of Acclaim's business was the development and publication of strategy guides relating to their software products and the issuance of "special edition" comic magazines, via Acclaim Comics, to support the more lucrative brand names. Lastly, they created the ASF/AMC motion capture format which is still in use in the industry today. [8]

Acclaim enjoyed a long relationship with the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE) dating back to 1988's WWF WrestleMania . However, after failing to match the success of World Championship Wrestling's THQ/AKI games amidst the Monday Night Wars, the WWF unexpectedly defected to THQ in 1999. Acclaim then picked up the license to Extreme Championship Wrestling and released two games for the company. ECW declared bankruptcy in 2001 while still owing Acclaim money. The game publisher would release three wrestling titles under the Legends of Wrestling banner in the throes of its final years. [9]

Acclaim suffered financial problems in 2004, the result of poor sales of its video game titles. This resulted in the closure of Acclaim Studios Cheltenham and Acclaim Studios Manchester in England and other places and their filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving many employees unpaid. Amongst the titles under development at the UK studios were Emergency Mayhem , ATV Quad Power Racing 3 , The Last Job and Interview with a Made Man .

When Acclaim's agreement with GMAC Commercial Finance, their primary lender, expired on August 20, 2004, [10] the company closed all of its facilities on August 27, [11] of which the Austin and New York studios saw all employees let go. [12] Prior to the closures, as of March 31, 2004, Acclaim employed 585 staff worldwide. [10] Acclaim announced on August 30 that they were to go bankrupt, [13] and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the United States bankruptcy court in Central Islip, New York on September 1. [14] [15] A September 2005 complaint filed with the same court found founders Fischbach and Scorposki, as well as executives Rodney Cousens, Gerard F. Agoglia, Edmond P. Sanctis, Bernard Fischbach, James Scibelli, Robert H. Groman and Michael Tannen, accountable for the financial losses of Acclaim shortly before the bankruptcy filing, seeking $150 million in damages. [16]

An attempt to reopen the Cheltenham and Manchester studios in October 2004 (under the new name Exclaim) failed due to legal wrangling over intellectual property, with both the US and UK administrators claiming rights.

In August 2005, former Activision executive Howard Marks purchased the name "Acclaim" for a reported $100,000. In the beginning of 2006, Marks formed a new company called Acclaim Games. According to a job listing for the company, Acclaim Games was aimed at the US and UK preteen multiplayer markets. However, the second iteration of Acclaim did not go well due to connectivity and payment issues for their online games, along with a lack of action against dishonest players, earning that iteration of the company an "F" grade from the Los Angeles/Southern California Better Business Bureau. [17]

Asset selling

In 2005, Acclaim's former IPs were put up for sale and were sold in auction. The Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX and ATV: Quad Power Racing series were purchased by Crave Entertainment. Juiced was purchased by THQ, Emergency Mayhem was purchased by Codemasters, Interview with a Made Man was purchased by former employees of Acclaim Studios Manchester and The Red Star was purchased by budget publisher XS Games.

In 2006, Throwback Entertainment purchased more than 50 of Acclaim's games, and vowed to bring such titles as Re-Volt , Extreme-G , Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance , Vexx , Fur Fighters and many other franchises into the next generation and beyond. [18] Acclaim's headquarters were sold to Anthony Pistilli of Pistilli Realty Group for $6 million in November 2004. [19]

In July 2010, South Korean based company We Go Interactive purchased Re-Volt, RC Revenge, and RC De Go! (developed and owned by Taito) from Throwback. [20]

In October 2018, Liquid Media Group purchased 65 ex-Acclaim titles from Throwback for $1 Million. This mainly consisted of installments in the NBA Jam, AFL Live, All-Star Baseball and NFL Quarterback Club franchises, as well as some Taito titles that Acclaim published outside of Japan. [21]

Controversies

During Acclaim's decline towards bankruptcy, the company made several controversial business and marketing decisions in the United Kingdom. One example was a promise that a US$10,000 (£6000) prize would be awarded to UK parents who would name their baby "Turok", to promote the release of Turok: Evolution . [22] Another was an attempt to buy advertising space on actual tombstones for Shadow Man: 2econd Coming . [22]

In the US, Acclaim suffered multiple lawsuits, a portion of them with former partners.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen sued over unpaid royalties. [23]

In the last iteration of the BMX series, BMX XXX , semi-nude, nude and pornographic content (e.g., full motion video of strippers and nude female riders) was added in hopes of boosting sales. [24] However, like most of Acclaim's video games during its final years, BMX XXX sold poorly, and was derided for its sexual content and poor gameplay. Dave Mirra himself publicly disowned the game, stating that he was not involved in the decision to include nudity, and he sued Acclaim for fear of being associated with BMX XXX. [25]

Another lawsuit was from Acclaim's own investors, claiming that Acclaim management had published misleading financial reports. [24]

In 1997, two years after its acquisition of Sculptured Software, during which it offered employees what looked like iron-clad contracts and stock that would be vested over the course of the contracts, Acclaim terminated about half of the staff of the Salt Lake City studio, violating its own contract terms. The lay-off came abruptly to the point that the employees had to choose between taking a reasonable severance package (whose terms altered several times during the initial weeks after the layoff) and not suing, or join the other creditors and sue, but lose their severance packages. In 2007, one of numerous class action suits filed on behalf of stockholders was won, allowing some of the employees to realize a return on some of the stock that had been vested. [26]

Subsidiaries

Games published

Related Research Articles

Taito Japanese company

Taito Corporation is a Japanese company that specializes in video games, toys, arcade cabinets and game centers, based out of Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company was founded by Michael Kogan in 1953 as the Taito Trading Company, importing vodka, vending machines and jukeboxes into Japan. It would begin production of video games in 1973. In 2005, Taito was purchased by Square Enix, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary by 2006.

Sierra Entertainment, Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher. Founded in 1979 as On-Line Systems, by Ken and Roberta Williams, Sierra was known primarily for their graphic adventure game series such as King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Gabriel Knight, and Quest for Glory.

Midway Games Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher. Midway's franchises included Mortal Kombat, Rampage, Spy Hunter, NBA Jam, Cruis'n, and NFL Blitz. Midway also acquired the rights to video games that were originally developed by Williams Electronics and Atari Games, such as Defender, Joust, Robotron 2084, Gauntlet, and the Rush series.

THQ video game publisher

THQ Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher based in Agoura Hills, California. Founded in April 1990 by Jack Friedman, the company developed products for home video game consoles and handhelds, personal computers and mobile devices.

Relic Entertainment, known as THQ Canada Inc. between 2004 and 2013, is a Canadian video game developer based in Vancouver, founded in 1997. The studio specializes in real-time strategy games and is known for series such as Homeworld, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. Acquired by THQ in 2004, the company was sold to Sega on January 22, 2013 as part of THQ's bankruptcy. Relic is now a part of Sega West, which also comprises Creative Assembly, Sports Interactive and Amplitude Studios.

<i>Turok: Dinosaur Hunter</i> 1997 video game

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a first-person shooter video game developed by Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim for the Nintendo 64 console and Microsoft Windows. It was released in 1997 in North America and Europe. Turok is an adaptation of the Acclaim Comics comic book series of the same name. The player controls Turok, a Native American warrior, who must stop the evil Campaigner from conquering the universe with an ancient and powerful weapon.

1997 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as GoldenEye 007, Star Fox 64, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Mortal Kombat 4, Diddy Kong Racing, Grand Theft Auto, Blast Corps and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Surreal Software American video game studio

Surreal Software was a video game developer based in Kirkland, Washington, USA, and a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, known for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Suffering and Drakan series. Surreal Software employed over 130 designers, artists, and programmers. Surreal was acquired by Warner Bros. Games during the bankruptcy of Midway Games in July 2009. After a significant layoff in January 2011, the remaining employees were integrated into WBG's Kirkland offices, along with developers Monolith and Snowblind.

Torus Games

Torus Games is an Australian video game developer founded in 1994 by ex-Beam Software employees including Bill McIntosh.

Acclaim Studios Austin video game developer

Acclaim Studios Austin was an American video game developer based in Austin, Texas. The company was founded in 1991 by Jeff Spangenberg, previously lead designer for Punk Development, and originally located in Santa Clara, California. Iguana found first success with Aero the Acro-Bat, moved to Austin and acquired Optimus Software in 1993. Iguana was acquired by Acclaim Entertainment in January 1995 and received another sub-studio, Iguana West in October that year. Spangenberg was fired from his position in July 1998 and filed a lawsuit on breach of contract the following October. Iguana was rebranded Acclaim Studios Austin in May 1999, and the studio was closed down in August 2004, followed by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of its parent in September 2004.

Rainbow Studios is an American video game developer based in Phoenix, Arizona, best known for developing the MX vs. ATV series. It was established by Earl Jarred in 1986 under the name Rainbow Multimedia Group and was rebranded as Rainbow Studios in 1992. In January 2002, the company was acquired by THQ, under the ownership of which it was renamed THQ Digital Studios Phoenix in February 2010 and subsequently closed in August 2011. The studio was re-instantiated as Rainbow Studios in 2013 by Nordic Games, a publishing company that had purchased most assets of the then-bankrupt THQ earlier that year.

Yukes

Yuke's Co. Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer based in Osaka. It was established on 26 February 1993 by Yukinori Taniguchi. The company is best known for their development of the WWE 2K video game series.

Atomic Planet Entertainment

Atomic Planet Entertainment Ltd or Atomic Planet was a British video game developer founded in 2000 by Darren and Jason Falcus. Previously the brothers had managed Acclaim Studios Teesside, formerly Iguana UK and Optimus Software, which closed in 2002.

Midway Studios Los Angeles Inc. was an American-based video game developer. They are best known for fighting games such as the X-Men Mutant Academy and Backyard Wrestling franchises, as well as the Mortal Kombat action game spin-off Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. The team was also responsible for the controversial PlayStation title Thrill Kill.

<i>Turok</i> (video game series) video game series

Turok is a series of first-person shooter video games based on the comic book character of the same name. It is set in a primitive world inhabited by dinosaurs and other creatures. The series was originally developed by Acclaim Studios Austin as Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim Entertainment from 1995 until Acclaim's bankruptcy in September 2004. The series was then developed by Propaganda Games and published by Touchstone Games.

Activision Blizzard American video game company

Activision Blizzard, Inc. is an American video game and film holding company based in Santa Monica, California. The company was founded in July 2008 through the merger of Activision, Inc., the holding company of Activision Publishing, and Vivendi Games, the company is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol ATVI, and since 2015 has been one of the stocks that make up the S&P 500. Activision Blizzard currently includes five business units: Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, King, Major League Gaming, and Activision Blizzard Studios.

THQ Nordic GmbH is an Austrian video game publisher based in Vienna. Formed in 2011, it is the primary publishing subsidiary of THQ Nordic AB. Originally named Nordic Games, as was the parent company, both companies were renamed THQ Nordic in August 2016 after the parent company had acquired the "THQ" trademark in 2014. THQ Nordic's core portfolio comprises assets that were acquired from other developers and publishers, such as from JoWooD Entertainment and its subsidiaries DreamCatcher Interactive and The Adventure Company in 2011, from THQ in 2013, and from NovaLogic in 2016. THQ Nordic has acquired and established ten subsidiary studios, including Black Forest Games, Bugbear Entertainment, HandyGames, Piranha Bytes, and Rainbow Studios.

References

  1. Platt, Charles (June 1, 1994). "Whuppa-whuppa whuppa Eeeeeeeeeee! Krrrroooom!". Wired .
  2. "Acclaim to Buy Iguana". New York Times. December 21, 1994. Archived from the original on May 8, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  3. 1 2 "Acclaim to acquire world's largest independent entertainment software developers; company to purchase both Probe and Sculptured Software in stock swaps. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. October 10, 1995. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  4. 1 2 "75 Power Players". Next Generation . Imagine Media (11): 68. November 1995.
  5. 1 2 "Game Industry Rebounds". GamePro . No. 88. IDG. January 1996. pp. 22–23.
  6. Sherman, Christopher (January 1996). "Acclaim Acquires Probe and Sculptured, Bolsters Talent Pool". Next Generation . Imagine Media (13): 25. The acquisitions, which bring an additional 250 programmers, musicians, graphic artists, and engineers, follow Acclaim's purchase of Iguana Entertainment earlier this year.
  7. "Hooray for Hollywood! Acclaim Studios". GamePro . IDG (82): 28–29. July 1995.
  8. "Acclaim ASF/AMC". Cs.wisc.edu. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  9. McLaughlin, Rus IGN Presents the History of Wrestling Games Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine IGN (November 12, 2008). Retrieved on 2-03-11.
  10. 1 2 https://www.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2004/12/06/daily18.html
  11. http://www.ign.com/articles/2004/08/27/acclaim-closes-offices
  12. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/acclaim-shutters-offices-staffers-ushered-off-premises/1100-6106088/
  13. http://www.ign.com/articles/2004/08/30/acclaim-to-file-for-bankruptcy
  14. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/acclaim-bankruptcy-now-official/1100-6106290/
  15. https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/95197/Acclaim_Officially_Files_For_Bankruptcy.php
  16. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/former-acclaim-boss-slammed-in-court-docs/1100-6132505/
  17. "Acclaim Games Incorporated Business Review in Beverly Hills, CA". La.bbb.org. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  18. Sinclair, Brendan (July 10, 2006). "Q&A: Throwback CEO Thomas Maduri". GameSpot . Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2007.
  19. https://libn.com/2004/11/26/acclaim-hq-in-contract-for-9-million/
  20. "Throwback sells Re-Volt". February 23, 2011. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  21. https://nichegamer.com/2018/10/02/liquid-media-acquires-rights-to-65-classic-acclaim-entertainment-ips/
  22. 1 2 "'Turok' maker plays the name game". CNET. August 27, 2002. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  23. "Olsen Twins Sue Acclaim Over Royalties". Los Angeles Times. April 27, 2004. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  24. 1 2 "L.I.@WORK". New York Times. March 23, 2003. Archived from the original on May 8, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  25. "L.I.@WORK". New York Times. November 3, 2003. Archived from the original on May 9, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  26. "In re ACCLAIM ENTERTAINMENT, INC. SECURITIES LITIGATION" (PDF). Collectorvision. Retrieved May 28, 2017.