Sierra Entertainment

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Sierra Entertainment Inc. (formerly Sierra On-Line) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 video-game developer
Video game developer
A video game developer is a software developer that creates video games. A developer may specialize in a certain video game console, such as Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, or may develop for a variety of systems, including personal computers.Most developers also...

 and publisher
Video game publisher
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer....

 founded in 1979 as On-Line Systems by Ken
Ken Williams (gaming)
Ken Williams is an American game programmer and co-founded On-Line Systems, which later became Sierra On-Line, together with his wife Roberta Williams. Roberta and Ken married at the age of 19 and have two children...

 and Roberta Williams
Roberta Williams
Roberta Williams is an American video game designer. She is most famous for her pioneering work in graphical adventure games, particularly the King's Quest series.-Career:...

. Based in Fresno, California
Fresno, California
Fresno is a city in central California, United States, the county seat of Fresno County. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 510,365, making it the fifth largest city in California, the largest inland city in California, and the 34th largest in the nation...

, the company was last owned by Activision
Activision
Activision is an American publisher, majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA. Its current CEO is Robert Kotick. It was founded on October 1, 1979 and was the world's first independent developer and distributor of video games for gaming consoles...

, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard, Inc., formerly Activision, Inc. is the American holding company for Activision and Blizzard Entertainment. The company is majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA and was created through the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games, announced on December 2, 2007, in a...

.

Sierra is best known today for its multiple lines of seminal graphic adventure games started in the 1980s, many of which proved influential in the history of video games
History of video games
The history of video games goes as far back as the 1940s, when in 1947 Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Estle Ray Mann filed a United States patent request for an invention they described as a "cathode ray tube amusement device." Video gaming would not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and...

. The Sierra label was absorbed by its parent company. Some franchises (such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon) that were published by Sierra will be published by Activision, which also announced in 2008 that it may sell the Sierra brand.

Founding



Sierra Entertainment was founded in 1979 as On-Line Systems in Simi Valley, California
Simi Valley, California
-2010:The 2010 United States Census reported that Simi Valley had a population of 124,237. The population density was 2,940.8 people per square mile...

, by Ken
Ken Williams (gaming)
Ken Williams is an American game programmer and co-founded On-Line Systems, which later became Sierra On-Line, together with his wife Roberta Williams. Roberta and Ken married at the age of 19 and have two children...

 and Roberta Williams
Roberta Williams
Roberta Williams is an American video game designer. She is most famous for her pioneering work in graphical adventure games, particularly the King's Quest series.-Career:...

 after the former, a programmer for IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

, bought an Apple II
Apple II
The Apple II is an 8-bit home computer, one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products, designed primarily by Steve Wozniak, manufactured by Apple Computer and introduced in 1977...

 microcomputer with which he planned to use to develop a FORTRAN
Fortran
Fortran is a general-purpose, procedural, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing...

 compiler for Apple computers. At the time, his wife Roberta Williams was playing text adventure games for the Apple II. Dissatisfied with the adventure games that existed at the time, she realized that modern computers could display graphics and had the potential to do more than presenting text descriptions on the screen. By 1982, On-Line Systems was renamed Sierra On-Line and the company was moved to Oakhurst, California
Oakhurst, California
Oakhurst is a census-designated place in Madera County, California, south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Oakhurst is located on the Fresno River south-southwest of Yosemite Forks, at an elevation of 2274 feet...

.
Hi-Res Adventure 0 - Mission Asteroid


Mission Asteroid is a graphic adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

 released in 1980 by On-Line Systems
Sierra Entertainment
Sierra Entertainment Inc. was an American video-game developer and publisher founded in 1979 as On-Line Systems by Ken and Roberta Williams...

, now known as Sierra Entertainment. It was released as Hi-Res Adventure
Hi-Res Adventure
Hi-Res Adventure is a series of graphic adventure games developed by On-Line Systems. It includes all 7 graphic adventure games released by the company prior to the release of the company's landmark King's Quest.*Hi-Res Adventure #0 - Mission Asteroid...

 #0, despite being released after Mystery House
Mystery House
Mystery House is an adventure computer game released in 1980 by Roberta and Ken Williams for the Apple II. The game is remembered as one of the first adventure games to feature computer graphics and the first game produced by On-Line Systems, the company which would evolve into Sierra On-Line...

.
Hi-Res Adventure 1 - Mystery House



Roberta began to write a script for an adventure game. Three weeks later, she presented to Ken the script of a computer game called Mystery House
Mystery House
Mystery House is an adventure computer game released in 1980 by Roberta and Ken Williams for the Apple II. The game is remembered as one of the first adventure games to feature computer graphics and the first game produced by On-Line Systems, the company which would evolve into Sierra On-Line...

, an idea she had developed during the previous days. Roberta managed to talk Ken into helping her develop the game in the evenings after work. She worked on the text and the graphics, and told Ken how to put it all together to make it the game she wanted. They worked on it for about three months and, on May 5, 1980, Mystery House was ready for shipment.

Mystery House was an instant hit. It was the first computer adventure game to have graphics, although they were crude, monochrome, static line drawings. It sold about 15,000 copies and earned $167,000.
Hi-Res Adventure 2 -Wizard and the Princess

Wizard and the Princess, also known as Adventure in Serenia, is a 1980 computer game by On-Line Systems for the Apple II
Apple II
The Apple II is an 8-bit home computer, one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products, designed primarily by Steve Wozniak, manufactured by Apple Computer and introduced in 1977...

 and Apple II Plus
Apple II Plus
The Apple II Plus was the second model of the Apple II series of personal computers produced by Apple Computer, Inc. It was sold new from June 1979 to December 1982.-Features:...

. It is the second title released in On-Line Systems' "Hi-Res Adventure" series after Mystery House
Mystery House
Mystery House is an adventure computer game released in 1980 by Roberta and Ken Williams for the Apple II. The game is remembered as one of the first adventure games to feature computer graphics and the first game produced by On-Line Systems, the company which would evolve into Sierra On-Line...

. It is a prelude to the King's Quest series in both story and concept.
Hi-Res Adventure 3 - Cranston Manor


Cranston Manor is a graphic adventure game released in 1981. It was created by Ken Williams and Harold DeWitz.[2] In the game, the player must invade a mansion that was occupied by a millionaire and steal the sixteen treasures that are inside of it. The game allows players to switch between graphics-based and text-based gameplay.
Hi-Res Adventure 4 - Ulysses and the Golden Fleece

A graphic adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

 released in 1981. It was created by Bob Davis and Ken Williams. With a graphic at the top of the game screen, the player navigates the game via a two-word command parser.
Hi-Res Adventure 5 - Time Zone


A multi-disk graphical adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

 written and directed by Roberta Williams
Roberta Williams
Roberta Williams is an American video game designer. She is most famous for her pioneering work in graphical adventure games, particularly the King's Quest series.-Career:...

 for the Apple II
Apple II
The Apple II is an 8-bit home computer, one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products, designed primarily by Steve Wozniak, manufactured by Apple Computer and introduced in 1977...

. Developed in 1981 and released in 1982
1982 in video gaming
-Events:* December 27 - Starcade, a video game television game show, debuts on TBS in the United States.-Notable releases:*October 13 - Mystique releases the Custer's Revenge adult video game for the Atari 2600 home console....

 by On-Line Systems (now Sierra Entertainment
Sierra Entertainment
Sierra Entertainment Inc. was an American video-game developer and publisher founded in 1979 as On-Line Systems by Ken and Roberta Williams...

), the game was shipped with six double sided floppy disks and contained 1,500 areas (screens) to explore along with 39 scenarios to solve. Produced at a time when most games rarely took up more than one side of a floppy, Time Zone is believed to be one of if not the very first game of this magnitude ever released for home computer systems.
Hi-Res Adventure 6 - The Dark Crystal


A graphic adventure
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

 computer game
Personal computer game
A PC game, also known as a computer game, is a video game played on a personal computer, rather than on a video game console or arcade machine...

 based on Jim Henson's fantasy film, The Dark Crystal
The Dark Crystal
The Dark Crystal is a 1982 British-American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Although marketed as a family film, it was notably darker than previous material created by them. The animatronics used in the film were considered groundbreaking. The primary concept artist was the...

. The game was designed by Roberta Williams and published under the SierraVenture line in 1983 as Hi-Res Adventure #6: The Dark Crystal. It was the first Hi-Res Adventure released under the SierraVenture line, the previous titles being released under earlier names and later re-released under SierraVenture.

Development took a little over a month. A simplified version written by Al Lowe
Al Lowe
Al Lowe is an American musician and game designer/programmer who developed several adventure games, mostly for Sierra On-Line. He is best known for his creation of Leisure Suit Larry and the long-running series it spawned....

, titled Gelfling Adventure, was released in 1984 and was intended for a younger audience.

King's Quest


Sierra On-Line was contacted by IBM in 1983 to create a game for its new PCjr
IBM PCjr
The IBM PCjr was IBM's first attempt to enter the home computer market. The PCjr, IBM model number 4860, retained the IBM PC's 8088 CPU and BIOS interface for compatibility, but various design and implementation decisions led the PCjr to be a commercial failure.- Features :Announced November 1,...

. IBM would fund the entire development of the game, pay royalties for it, and advertise for the game. Ken and Roberta accepted and started on the project.

Roberta created a story featuring classic fairy-tale elements. Her game concept included animated color graphics, a pseudo 3D-perspective where the main character was visible on the screen, a more competent text parser that would understand advanced commands from the player, and music playing in the background through the PCjr sound hardware. For the game, a complete development system called Adventure Game Interpreter
Adventure Game Interpreter
The Adventure Game Interpreter is a game engine which Sierra On-Line used through most of the 1980s to create and run animated, color adventure games...

 was developed.

In the summer of 1984, King's Quest was released to much acclaim.

Space Quest


While working to finish The Black Cauldron, programmers Mark Crowe
Two Guys from Andromeda
"Two Guys from Andromeda" is an alias for the designers of the Space Quest series, a popular series of adventure games published by Sierra On-Line...

 and Scott Murphy
Two Guys from Andromeda
"Two Guys from Andromeda" is an alias for the designers of the Space Quest series, a popular series of adventure games published by Sierra On-Line...

 began to plan for an adventure game of their own. After a simple demonstration to Ken, he allowed them to start working on the full game, which was named Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter. The game, released in October 1986, was an instant success and would spawn many sequels in the following years.

Leisure Suit Larry


Al Lowe
Al Lowe
Al Lowe is an American musician and game designer/programmer who developed several adventure games, mostly for Sierra On-Line. He is best known for his creation of Leisure Suit Larry and the long-running series it spawned....

, who had been working at Sierra On-Line for many years, was asked by Ken Williams to write a modern version of Chuck Benton's Softporn Adventure
Softporn Adventure
Softporn Adventure was a comedic, adult-oriented text adventure game produced for the Apple II in 1981. The game was created by Charles Benton and released by On-Line Systems....

from 1981, the only pure text adventure that the company had ever released.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards is the alliterative title to an adventure computer game first released in 1987, the first part of the Leisure Suit Larry series. It was a completely graphical adventure game with 16 color EGA graphics. It utilizes the Adventure Game Interpreter ...

was a great hit (although it first became famous as an early example of software piracy, as Sierra sold many more hintbooks than actual copies of the game) and won the Software Publishers Association's Best Adventure Game award of 1987. A long series of Leisure Suit Larry games would follow in the coming years and become the second best selling game series of Sierra On-Line after King's Quest.

1990s


In 1990, Sierra released King's Quest V. It would be the first Sierra On-Line game ever to sell more than 500,000 copies and was the highest selling game of all time for the next five years. It won several awards as well, such as the Best Adventure Game of the Year from both the Software Publishers Association and Computer Gaming World Magazine.

Gabriel Knight series


In 1993 Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is a point-and-click adventure game developed and published by Sierra On-Line, Inc....

was released. Generally considered to be a staple of the point-and-click adventure genre, the game and its sequels were critically acclaimed in the mainstream press at the time.
  • 1994 Adventure Game of the Year—Computer Game Review
  • 1994 Adventure Game of the Year—Computer Gaming World
  • 1993 Best of Show—Consumer Electronics Show

Move to Bellevue, Washington


Sierra had grown enormously since its first years. New buildings were needed to hold new resources needed to continue making games. A decision was made to move the headquarters north, to Bellevue, Washington
Bellevue, Washington
Bellevue is a city in the Eastside region of King County, Washington, United States, across Lake Washington from Seattle. Long known as a suburb or satellite city of Seattle, it is now categorized as an edge city or a boomburb. The population was 122,363 at the 2010 census.Downtown Bellevue is...

. Sierra's original location in Oakhurst continued as an internal development studio for the company and was renamed Yosemite Entertainment in 1998.

The company was now made up of five separate and largely autonomous development divisions: Sierra Publishing, Sierra Northwest, Dynamix
Dynamix
Dynamix, Inc. was an American developer of computer games from 1984 to 2001, best known for their flight simulator, Red Baron, the Front Page Sports series, Betrayal at Krondor, and their online multiplayer game, Tribes.-History:...

, Bright Star Technology, and Coktel Vision
Coktel Vision
Coktel Vision is a French computer game developer.The company developed adventure and action games in the mid-1980s. It was especially known as a computer game publisher of its subsidiary Tomahawk. None of Tomahawk's games were sold outside Europe...

, with each group working separately on product development but sharing manufacturing, distribution, and sales resources.

The year 1995 would prove to be an extremely successful year for the company. With $83.4 million in sales from its software-publishing business, earnings were improved by 19 percent, bringing a net income of $11.9 million to the company.

In June 1995, Sierra and Pioneer Electric Corp.
Pioneer Corporation
is a multinational corporation that specializes in digital entertainment products, based in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. The company was founded in 1938 in Tokyo as a radio and speaker repair shop...

 signed an agreement to create a joint venture that would develop, publish, manufacture, and market entertainment software for the Japanese software market. This joint venture created a new company called Sierra Venture. With Sierra and Pioneer investing over $12 million, the new company immediately manufactured and shipped over twenty of Sierra’s most popular products to Japan and created new titles for the Japanese market.

December 1996 saw the release of The Realm Online
The Realm Online
The Realm Online, originally known simply as The Realm, is a second generation MORPG . The Realm Online is still being played by a small number of players, and is known as one of the few MMORPGs that is still dial-up friendly and easy to play.The Realm was launched in March 1995 for Windows...

, a massively multiplayer online game. At its peak, it had over 25,000 players. Ken Williams acted as Executive Producer of the Realm from its release until late 1998.

Phantasmagoria



Phantasmagoria was by far the largest project ever undertaken by Sierra. At the time of its release in late 1995, the anticipation for the game was incredibly high. Although nearly one million copies were sold when the game was first released in August 1995, making it the best-selling Sierra adventure game created, the game received only mixed reviews from industry critics.

Sold to CUC


In 1996, CUC International
CUC International
CUC International Inc. is a membership-based consumer services conglomerate with travel, shopping, auto, dining, home improvement and financial services offered to more than 60 million customers worldwide based out of Stamford, Connecticut and founded by Kirk Shelton and Walter Forbes...

, a membership-based consumer services conglomerate, aggressively sought to expand into interactive entertainment and, in February 1996, offered to buy Sierra at a price of approximately $1.5 billion. The deal with CUC closed on July 24, 1996. Immediately after the sale, Ken Williams stepped down as CEO of Sierra. He stayed with the software division as a Vice President of CUC so that he could provide strategic guidance to Sierra and began to work on CUC's online product distributor, NetMarket. One year later, Ken and Roberta left CUC.

In September 1996, CUC announced plans to consolidate some of the functions of its game companies into a single company called CUC Software Inc., headquartered in Torrance, California
Torrance, California
Torrance is a city incorporated in 1921 and located in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Torrance has of shore-front beaches on the Pacific Ocean, quieter and less well-known by tourists than others on the Santa Monica Bay, such as those of neighboring...

. Davidson & Associates
Davidson & Associates
Davidson & Associates was an educational software company headquartered in Torrance, California. It was best known for the Blaster series, including Math Blaster and Reading Blaster...

 became the publisher for the studio. CUC Software would consolidate the manufacturing, distribution, and sales resources of all of its divisions that would come to include Sierra, Davidson, Blizzard, Knowledge Adventure, and Gryphon Software.

On November 5, 1996, Sierra was restructured into three units.

Cendant Corporation


In December of 1997, CUC merged with HFS Incorporated. The two companies jointly formed the Cendant Corporation with more than 40,000 employees and operations in over 100 countries.

In 1998, Sierra split up its organization into six sub-brands and corporate divisions:
  • Sierra Attractions (For lifestyle related products)
  • Sierra Home (For home products)
  • Sierra Sports (For sports products)
  • Sierra Studios (For movie games. Folded into Sierra Movies in 2005)
  • Sierra Movies (For movie games. Their first and only game was Robots)

On November 19, 1998, Half-Life was released for the PC. Sierra On-Line published the game while it was developed by Valve Corporation
Valve Corporation
Valve Corporation is an American video game development and digital distribution company based in Bellevue, Washington, United States...

.

The Cendant scandal


In March 1998, Cendant had reported a 1997 net income of $55.4 million. However, the true 1997 result was a net loss of $217.2 million. As irregularities in the books of Cendant were discovered in early 1998, an audit committee set up by Cendant's Board of Directors launched an investigation and discovered that the former management team of CUC, including its top executives Walter Forbes
Walter Forbes
Walter Forbes is an American business manager and Federal prisoner.He was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey and convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and two counts of making false statements, for inflating reported incomes for the...

 and Kirk Shelton, had been fraudulently preparing false business statements for several years.

In March 2001, Forbes and Shelton were indicted by a federal grand jury and sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused the company of directing the massive accounting fraud that ultimately cost the company and its investors billions of dollars. With the news of the accounting fraud, Cendant announced its intention to sell off its entire computer entertainment division.

On November 20, 1998, Cendant announced the sale of its entire consumer software division to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

-based Havas S.A
Havas
Havas is the second largest advertising group in France and is a "Global advertising and communications services group" and the sixth-largest global advertising and communications group worldwide, operating on the communications consulting market through three main operational divisions:*Euro RSCG...

. With this sale, Sierra became a part of Havas Interactive, the interactive entertainment division of the company.

Major layoffs


On February 22, 1999, Sierra announced a major reorganization of the company, resulting in the shutdown of several of their development studios, cutbacks on others and the relocation of key projects, and employees from those studios to Bellevue. About 250 people in total lost their jobs. Development groups within Sierra such as PyroTechnix were shut down. Others such as Books That Work were relocated to Bellevue. Also shut down was Yosemite Entertainment, the division occupying the original headquarters of Sierra On-Line. The company sold the rights of Headgate Studios
Headgate Studios
EA Salt Lake is a video game developer located in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. It is owned by video game publisher Electronic Arts .EA Salt Lake was founded by the studio's president, Vance Cook, as Headgate Studios in 1992...

 back to the original owner. With the exception of the warehouse and distribution department, the entire studio was shut down. Game designers Al Lowe
Al Lowe
Al Lowe is an American musician and game designer/programmer who developed several adventure games, mostly for Sierra On-Line. He is best known for his creation of Leisure Suit Larry and the long-running series it spawned....

 and Scott Murphy
Two Guys from Andromeda
"Two Guys from Andromeda" is an alias for the designers of the Space Quest series, a popular series of adventure games published by Sierra On-Line...

 were laid off. Lowe had just started work on Leisure Suit Larry 8. Murphy was involved in a Space Quest 7 project at the time. Layoffs continued on March 1, when Sierra terminated 30 employees at the previously unaffected Dynamix, 15 percent of its workforce.

Despite the layoffs, Sierra continued to publish games for smaller development houses. In September 1999, they released Homeworld
Homeworld
Homeworld is a real-time strategy computer game released on September 28, 1999, developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Sierra Entertainment. It was the first fully three-dimensional RTS. In 2003, Relic released the source code for Homeworld...

, a real-time space-combat strategy game developed by Relic Entertainment
Relic Entertainment
Relic Entertainment is a Canadian game development company that specializes in 3D real-time strategy games and has released a number of unique PC games. Relic specializes in creative, visually appealing, and combat intense RTS games.-History:...

. The game design was revolutionary for the genre, and the game received great critical acclaim and many awards.

Gabriel Knight 3
Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned is the third and final game in the Gabriel Knight series of adventure games by Sierra Online. The game was designed by Jane Jensen, Gabriel Knight's creator. In a departure from the previous two entries, the score is composed by David...

was released on November 3, 1999. It was announced this would be the last game of the series.

Yosemite Entertainment legacy


UK-based games developer and publisher Codemasters
Codemasters
The Codemasters Software Company Limited, or Codemasters is a British video game developer founded by Richard and David Darling in 1986...

, in an effort to establish themselves in the United States, announced that it would launch a new development studio in Oakhurst, using the abandoned Sierra facilities and hiring much of the Yosemite Entertainment's laid-off staff in mid-September 1999. In early October the company announced that it would take over management and maintenance of the online RPG The Realm
The Realm
The Realm is a southern California surfing products and clothing company co-founded in 1997 by noted surfers Mike Parsons and Pat O'Connell. It has sponsored pro surfers such as Tom Curren...

 and that it would pick up and complete the previously canceled Navy SEALs. The company also reported that it had obtained the rights to continue using the name Yosemite Entertainment for the development house.

Reorganization


Meanwhile, Sierra announced another reorganization, this time into three business units: Core Games, Casual Entertainment, and Home Productivity. This reorganization resulted in even more layoffs, eliminating 105 additional jobs and a number of games in production. After 1999, Sierra almost entirely ceased to be a developer
Video game publisher
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer....

 of games and, as time went on, instead became a publisher
Video game publisher
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer....

 of games by independent developers.

1990s acquisitions

  • Dynamix
    Dynamix
    Dynamix, Inc. was an American developer of computer games from 1984 to 2001, best known for their flight simulator, Red Baron, the Front Page Sports series, Betrayal at Krondor, and their online multiplayer game, Tribes.-History:...

  • Coktel Vision
    Coktel Vision
    Coktel Vision is a French computer game developer.The company developed adventure and action games in the mid-1980s. It was especially known as a computer game publisher of its subsidiary Tomahawk. None of Tomahawk's games were sold outside Europe...

  • The Pixellite Group
  • Green Thumb Software
  • Arion Software
  • Impressions Games
    Impressions Games
    Impressions Games was a video game developer founded by David Lester in the UK. He sold the company to Sierra Entertainment in 1995, who was then bought out by Cendant and eventually, Vivendi Universal ....

  • Papyrus Design Group
    Papyrus Design Group
    Papyrus Design Group, Inc. was a computer game developer founded in 1987 by David Kaemmer and CEO Omar Khudari. Based in Watertown, MA, it is best known for its series of realistic sim racing games based on the NASCAR and IndyCar leagues, as well as the unique Grand Prix Legends. Papyrus was...

  • SubLogic
    Sublogic
    Sublogic may refer to:* subLOGIC, a flight simulation company * Sublogic Corporation, a Dutch netlabel...

  • Synergistic Software
    Synergistic Software
    Northwest Synergistic Software is a contract software developer and a former video game developer. Founded in 1978 under the name Synergistic Software, the company published some of the earliest available games and applications for the Apple II family of computers...

  • Headgate Studios
    Headgate Studios
    EA Salt Lake is a video game developer located in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. It is owned by video game publisher Electronic Arts .EA Salt Lake was founded by the studio's president, Vance Cook, as Headgate Studios in 1992...

  • Berkeley Systems
    Berkeley Systems
    Berkeley Systems was a San Francisco Bay Area software company co-founded in 1987 by Wes Boyd and Joan Blades. It made money early on by performing contract work for the National Institutes of Health, specifically in making modifications to the Macintosh so that it could be used by partially...

  • Books That Work
  • PyroTechnix

2000s


At the end of June 2000, a strategic business alliance between Vivendi
Vivendi
Vivendi SA is a French international media conglomerate with activities in music, television and film, publishing, telecommunications, the Internet, and video games. It is headquartered in Paris.- History :...

, Seagram
Seagram
The Seagram Company Ltd. was a large corporation headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that was the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world. Toward the end of its independent existence it also controlled various entertainment and other business ventures...

, and Canal+
Canal+
Canal+ is a French premium pay television channel launched in 1984. It is 80% owned by the Canal+ Group, which in turn is owned by Vivendi SA. The channel broadcasts several kinds of programming, mostly encrypted...

 was announced, and Vivendi Universal, a leading global media and communications company, was formed after the merger with Seagram
Seagram
The Seagram Company Ltd. was a large corporation headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that was the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world. Toward the end of its independent existence it also controlled various entertainment and other business ventures...

 (the parent company of Universal Studios
Universal Studios
Universal Pictures , a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, is one of the six major movie studios....

). Havas S.A. was renamed Vivendi Universal Publishing and became the publishing division of the new group, divided into five groups: games, education, literature, health, and information. The merger was followed by many more layoffs of Sierra employees

On February 19, 2002, Sierra On-Line officially announced the change of its name to Sierra Entertainment Inc.

In 2002, Sierra, working with High Voltage Software, announced the development of a new chapter in the Leisure Suit Larry franchise, titled Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is a 2004 video game, part of the Leisure Suit Larry series. The game introduces a new main character, 'Larry Lovage', as Larry Laffer's nephew.-Gameplay:...

. It was released to mostly negative reviews; Larry's creator, Al Lowe was not involved with the project.

The newly rechristened Sierra Entertainment continued to develop mostly unsuccessful interactive entertainment products. However, its hit Homeworld 2
Homeworld 2
Developed by Relic Entertainment and released in 2003 by now defunct publisher Sierra Entertainment, Homeworld 2 is a real-time strategy computer game sequel to Homeworld. It takes place after the events in Homeworld and concerns Hiigara's response to a new enemy called the Vaygr. Its gameplay...

once again cemented Sierra’s reputation as a respectable publisher.

Cost-cutting measures were taken because of parent company Vivendi Universal Games' (VU Games') financial troubles and because of Sierra’s lack of profitability as a working developer. Impressions Games
Impressions Games
Impressions Games was a video game developer founded by David Lester in the UK. He sold the company to Sierra Entertainment in 1995, who was then bought out by Cendant and eventually, Vivendi Universal ....

 and the Papyrus Design Group
Papyrus Design Group
Papyrus Design Group, Inc. was a computer game developer founded in 1987 by David Kaemmer and CEO Omar Khudari. Based in Watertown, MA, it is best known for its series of realistic sim racing games based on the NASCAR and IndyCar leagues, as well as the unique Grand Prix Legends. Papyrus was...

 were shut down in the spring of 2004, and about 50 people lost their jobs in those cuts; 180 Sierra-related positions were eliminated at Vivendi’s Los Angeles offices; and finally in June 2004, VU Games shut down Sierra's Bellevue location, which cost over 100 people their jobs, and dispersed Sierra’s work to other VU Games divisions. Other titles, such as Print Artist, were permanently discontinued. The Hoyle franchise was sold to an independent developer. In total, 350 people lost their jobs.

Several studios including Massive Entertainment
Massive Entertainment
Massive - A Ubisoft Studio is a Swedish video game company based in Malmö, Sweden. The company is fully owned by Ubisoft. They are best known for the Ground Control series of real-time tactics video games. They were acquired by Vivendi Universal Games in 2002...

, High Moon Studios
High Moon Studios
High Moon Studios is an American video game developer, that used to be a part of Sierra Entertainment. After a period as independent studio, the developer was acquired by Vivendi Games in January 2006 and retained the current name...

, Radical Entertainment
Radical Entertainment
Radical Entertainment is a video game developer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was founded in 1991 and previously developed games for game publishers such as THQ, Microsoft and Fox Interactive. It is now an entirely owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard after being acquired by...

, and Swordfish Studios
Swordfish Studios
Swordfish Studios was a British software development company based in Birmingham founded by Rage executive director Trevor Williams and Joan Finnegan in September 2002....

 were acquired and integrated into Sierra throughout 2005 and 2006. Creative licenses from other Vivendi divisions and from companies partnered with Vivendi Universal Games were granted to Sierra, and copyright of several notable intellectual properties
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon
Spyro the Dragon (series)
Spyro the Dragon is a platform and action game series starring the video game character Spyro, which was originally published by Sony Computer Entertainment and developed by Insomniac Games for the PlayStation....

, 50 Cent: Bulletproof
50 Cent: Bulletproof
50 Cent: Bulletproof is a video game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms. It was developed in response to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas after 50 Cent was asked to voice the game's protagonist Carl "CJ" Johnson with 50 Cent stating that he will only voice himself in video games...

and Scarface
Scarface: The World is Yours
Scarface: The World Is Yours is a video game developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal Games. The game is based on and is a quasi-sequel to the 1983 motion picture Scarface starring Al Pacino reprising his role as Tony Montana, with André Sogliuzzo providing Montana's...

went to Sierra.

In September 2007, Sierra released the real-time tactical
Real-time tactics
Real-time tactics or RTT is a subgenre of tactical wargames played in real-time simulating the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics...

 video game World in Conflict
World in Conflict
World in Conflict, or WiC, is a real-time tactical video game developed by the Swedish video game company Massive Entertainment and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows. The game was released in September 2007...

.

In October 2007, Sierra released Timeshift
TimeShift
TimeShift is a sci-fi first-person shooter developed by Saber Interactive and published by Sierra Entertainment for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was developed using the Saber 3D engine, v.S-3 and Havok. On August 31, 2007 a demo of TimeShift was released on Xbox Live Marketplace...

.

In 2008, Sierra parent company Vivendi Universal Games, which had since been renamed Vivendi Games
Vivendi Games
Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s...

 in 2006, merged with video game publisher Activision
Activision
Activision is an American publisher, majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA. Its current CEO is Robert Kotick. It was founded on October 1, 1979 and was the world's first independent developer and distributor of video games for gaming consoles...

 to form the Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard, Inc., formerly Activision, Inc. is the American holding company for Activision and Blizzard Entertainment. The company is majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA and was created through the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games, announced on December 2, 2007, in a...

 holding company. Vivendi Games ceased to exist and ownership of Sierra was transferred over to Activision. Later that year, Sierra was closed down for possible future sale.

Management Teams


Ken Williams
Ken Williams (gaming)
Ken Williams is an American game programmer and co-founded On-Line Systems, which later became Sierra On-Line, together with his wife Roberta Williams. Roberta and Ken married at the age of 19 and have two children...

 (company co-founder):
  • CEO (1979-November 1997)
  • President (1979–1981;1983–1995)
  • Chairman (September 1988- July 1996)


Dick Sunderland
  • President (1981-Summer 1983)


Michael Brochu:
  • CFO and Senior Vice President (June 1994-October 1995)
  • President and COO (October 1995-October 1997)


David Grenewetzki
  • President (June 1998-June 2001)


Thomas K. Hernquist
  • President (June 2001)


Michael Ryder
  • COO and Vice President of Product Development (June 2001)
  • President (June 2001-June 2004)

Absorbed

  • Books That Work
  • Bright Star Technology in Bellevue, Washington
    Bellevue, Washington
    Bellevue is a city in the Eastside region of King County, Washington, United States, across Lake Washington from Seattle. Long known as a suburb or satellite city of Seattle, it is now categorized as an edge city or a boomburb. The population was 122,363 at the 2010 census.Downtown Bellevue is...

    , founded 1980, acquired 1992.
  • Green Thumb Software, acquired in 1995.

Defunct

  • Berkeley Systems
    Berkeley Systems
    Berkeley Systems was a San Francisco Bay Area software company co-founded in 1987 by Wes Boyd and Joan Blades. It made money early on by performing contract work for the National Institutes of Health, specifically in making modifications to the Macintosh so that it could be used by partially...

     in Berkeley, California
    Berkeley, California
    Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

    , founded in 1987, acquired in 1997, closed 2000.
  • Dynamix
    Dynamix
    Dynamix, Inc. was an American developer of computer games from 1984 to 2001, best known for their flight simulator, Red Baron, the Front Page Sports series, Betrayal at Krondor, and their online multiplayer game, Tribes.-History:...

     in Eugene, Oregon
    Eugene, Oregon
    Eugene is the second largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Lane County. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, about east of the Oregon Coast.As of the 2010 U.S...

    , founded 1984, acquired August 1990, closed August 14, 2001.
  • Front Page Sports, closed Jan 28, 1998.
  • Impressions Games
    Impressions Games
    Impressions Games was a video game developer founded by David Lester in the UK. He sold the company to Sierra Entertainment in 1995, who was then bought out by Cendant and eventually, Vivendi Universal ....

     in Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

    , founded 1989, acquired 1995, closed April 2004.
  • Papyrus Design Group
    Papyrus Design Group
    Papyrus Design Group, Inc. was a computer game developer founded in 1987 by David Kaemmer and CEO Omar Khudari. Based in Watertown, MA, it is best known for its series of realistic sim racing games based on the NASCAR and IndyCar leagues, as well as the unique Grand Prix Legends. Papyrus was...

     in Watertown, MA, founded in 1987, acquired 1995, closed May 2004.
  • PyroTechnix, founded as Computer Presentation, acquired February 1996, closed in 1999.
  • Yosemite Entertainment in Oakhurst, CA, formed in 1998, closed in 1999 then sold to Codemasters
    Codemasters
    The Codemasters Software Company Limited, or Codemasters is a British video game developer founded by Richard and David Darling in 1986...

     that year.
  • As of late 2008-09 Sierra Co. was aborted and shut down.

Merged with Activision

  • High Moon Studios
    High Moon Studios
    High Moon Studios is an American video game developer, that used to be a part of Sierra Entertainment. After a period as independent studio, the developer was acquired by Vivendi Games in January 2006 and retained the current name...

     in San Diego, California
    San Diego, California
    San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

    , founded in 2001, acquired by Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s...

     in January 2006.
  • Radical Entertainment
    Radical Entertainment
    Radical Entertainment is a video game developer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was founded in 1991 and previously developed games for game publishers such as THQ, Microsoft and Fox Interactive. It is now an entirely owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard after being acquired by...

     in Vancouver, Canada, founded in 1991, acquired by Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s...

     in 2005.

Sold

  • Coktel Vision
    Coktel Vision
    Coktel Vision is a French computer game developer.The company developed adventure and action games in the mid-1980s. It was especially known as a computer game publisher of its subsidiary Tomahawk. None of Tomahawk's games were sold outside Europe...

     in Paris, France, founded in 1985, acquired in 1993, sold to Mindscape
    Mindscape
    Mindscape is an international software publishing company, previously part of The Learning Company. They are now affiliated with EA . As of 2004, the group has offices in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. It has an annual turnover of €38 million and employs 150 people. Mindscape...

     in 2005.
  • Headgate Studios
    Headgate Studios
    EA Salt Lake is a video game developer located in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. It is owned by video game publisher Electronic Arts .EA Salt Lake was founded by the studio's president, Vance Cook, as Headgate Studios in 1992...

     in Bountiful, Utah
    Bountiful, Utah
    Bountiful is a city in Davis County, Utah, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 42,552, a three percent increase over the 2000 figure of 41,301...

    , founded in 1992, acquired April 1996, sold to original owner in 1999.
  • Massive Entertainment
    Massive Entertainment
    Massive - A Ubisoft Studio is a Swedish video game company based in Malmö, Sweden. The company is fully owned by Ubisoft. They are best known for the Ground Control series of real-time tactics video games. They were acquired by Vivendi Universal Games in 2002...

     in Malmö, Sweden, founded in 1987, acquired by Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s...

     in 2002, sold to Ubisoft
    Ubisoft
    Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. is a major French video game publisher and developer, with headquarters in Montreuil, France. The company has a worldwide presence with 25 studios in 17 countries and subsidiaries in 26 countries....

     on November 10, 2008.
  • Swordfish Studios
    Swordfish Studios
    Swordfish Studios was a British software development company based in Birmingham founded by Rage executive director Trevor Williams and Joan Finnegan in September 2002....

     in Birmingham, England, founded in September 2002, acquired by Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s...

     in June 2005, sold to Codemasters
    Codemasters
    The Codemasters Software Company Limited, or Codemasters is a British video game developer founded by Richard and David Darling in 1986...

     on November 14, 2008.
  • Synergistic Studios
    Synergistic Software
    Northwest Synergistic Software is a contract software developer and a former video game developer. Founded in 1978 under the name Synergistic Software, the company published some of the earliest available games and applications for the Apple II family of computers...

    , founded in 1978, acquired in 1996, studio closed in 1999. No longer involved in the video game industry.

Sierra Home Titles

  • Generations 1-8- A family tree program for Windows 97-98 worked on Windows after that but with many bugs.

See also

  • AGD Interactive
    AGD Interactive
    AGD Interactive , LLC. is a non-profit company given a fan license to remake Sierra Entertainment's popular classic adventure games from the 1980s and early 1990s.-History:...

  • Activision Blizzard
    Activision Blizzard
    Activision Blizzard, Inc., formerly Activision, Inc. is the American holding company for Activision and Blizzard Entertainment. The company is majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA and was created through the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games, announced on December 2, 2007, in a...

  • Infamous Adventures
    Infamous Adventures
    Infamous Adventures is an amateur game development company, founded in 2004 by Shawn Mills and Steven Alexander , and is dedicated to making games in the classic adventure made famous by the releases of Sierra Entertainment and LucasArts in the 1980s and early 1990s.Their games are created using...

  • The Silver Lining (game)
    The Silver Lining (game)
    The Silver Lining is an amateur five-chapter episodic fangame based on the King's Quest series, which was developed and released in free download format by Phoenix Online Studios for Microsoft Windows on July 18, 2010. The initial project was titled King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has A Silver Lining...

  • List of Sierra Entertainment video games
  • Sierra Online
  • Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games
    Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s...


External links

(from the Internet Archives Wayback Machine
Wayback machine
The WABAC Machine refers to a fictional machine from the cartoon segment Peabody's Improbable History, an ongoing feature of the 1960's cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The WABAC Machine is a plot device used to transport the characters Mr. Peabody and Sherman back in time...

)