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Activision teases Sierra rebirth

Activision teases Sierra rebirth

Activision looks to be bringing the venerable Sierra brand back to life, promising to reveal the future of the adventure game pioneer at Gamescom next week.

Activision has hinted that it may be getting back into the adventure game market, resurrecting a brand gamers of a certain age will remember well: Sierra.

Founded as On-Line Systems, then Sierra On-Line and Sierra Entertainment, by husband and wife team Ken and Roberta Williams, Sierra was responsible for some of the best-known adventure games of the 80s and 90s. Its first products were basic graphical adventures for Apple systems, using simple single-colour line-art graphics. The company hit its stride with the King's Quest franchise of fantasy point-and-click adventure games, which were followed by Space Quest, Police Quest, Quest for Glory and the tongue-in-cheek Leisure Suit Larry series by Al Lowe - based loosely on the delightfully named 1981 text adventure Softporn Adventure by Chuck Benton.

The 1990s saw the launch of the Gabriel Knight franchise, which was highly successful, and Freddy Pharkas, which was not. A mixed reception for interactive horror Phantasmagoria spelled trouble for the company, which was bought out in a $1.5 billion deal by CUC International in 1996. The company was split into three units, then into six, and while it saw success as the publisher of Valve's Half Life - before Valve itself would get into the publishing game - financial irregularities at CUC - now Cedant - in 1998 caused a scandal from which Sierra struggled to emerge.

In 1999, Sierra would shut down the majority of its studios and cut 250 jobs, including Al Lowe. Its last first-party game, Gabriel Knight 3, was released that year; its relatively poor sales saw another 135 staff cut, with even more job losses following the merger that created Vivendi Universal. The brand was relaunched in 2005 with an on-line game focus - ironic, given the Williams' original name for the company - but was closed down again in 2008 when Vivendi Games merged with Activision.

At the time, Activision was believed to be looking to sell the Sierra brand on - but now it appears that the company is hoping for a rebirth, sending a website live that teases a Sierra-themed unveiling at the Gamescom event in Cologne next week. Very little information is available at present, beyond an animation of a climber racing towards a mountain recognisable as that of Sierra's logo and the caption 'more to be revealed at Gamescom 2014.'

Should it prove to be a return to its glory days, the rebirth of Sierra will be something to celebrate; if it results in more titles like 2004's Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude - created by High Voltage Software without the input of series creator Al Lowe - then it will be something to forget.

8 Comments

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B1GBUD 8th August 2014, 11:55 Quote
Ooooh I'm hopeful for a Grand Prix Legends re-make.... that would be bloody brilliant!!
CustomPCMAX 8th August 2014, 13:22 Quote
I am going to go out on a limb here and say... who cares? They had some great games back in the day, but I fail to see how reviving a completely shut down company would actually bring those days back. Everyone involved with it when it was successful is probably long moved onto other things (or even died... it has been a while).
Dave Lister 8th August 2014, 13:32 Quote
I think Phantasmagoria was the last PC game I bought or played until about 2005, It just totally put me off PC gaming. I did however enjoy one of the space quest games earlier in history.

Oh and I have to agree with CPCMAX, I don't get the point in bringing back a dead company, one with a tarnished reputation at that !
FelixTech 8th August 2014, 22:15 Quote
Outpost was always a favourite of mine. It was definitely not ready for release, but seemed to capture the space exploration vibe well - with a complete lack of instructions/guidance for added effect :P
XXAOSICXX 9th August 2014, 08:38 Quote
If the current batch of old-school "remakes" are anything to go by (read: Flashback, Syndicate) then I almost wish they'd just kinda leave Sierra dead-and-buried.

I suppose asking for HD versions of Kings/Space/Police Quest in the same vein as Monkey Island I/II would just be asking too much, right?
Bokonist 11th August 2014, 11:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Ooooh I'm hopeful for a Grand Prix Legends re-make.... that would be bloody brilliant!!
Have you tried the Lotus 49 in Assetto Corsa? If not I think you'll be impressed.
B1GBUD 12th August 2014, 13:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonist
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Ooooh I'm hopeful for a Grand Prix Legends re-make.... that would be bloody brilliant!!
Have you tried the Lotus 49 in Assetto Corsa? If not I think you'll be impressed.

Thanks Bokonist!! Why have I not heard of Assetto Corsa before??? The thing I liked most about GPL was the sound of the Ferrari 312.... dat noise!
Bokonist 13th August 2014, 14:00 Quote
It's still an early access release, so there are still a few missing features, that said it's probably the best driving experience you can get on pc at the moment. I've lost many hours to it already.
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