My interest is mostly in Western developers. While they are ususally credited (usually without pseudonyms), it might not always be clear which studio or company they worked for, especially if they work for a larger publisher that has several studios or publishes both in-house and external projects.
Here is a (very much incomplete) list of companies of interest:
- 1 Activision
- 2 Amaze Entertainment
- 3 Climax
- 4 Codemasters
- 5 Coktel Vision
- 6 Dementia
- 7 Domark
- 8 Electronic Arts
- 9 Gremlin
- 10 Impressions
- 11 Infogrames
- 12 Krome
- 13 Looking Glass
- 14 MicroProse
- 15 Midway
- 16 Mindscape
- 17 Ocean
- 18 Perfect Entertainment
- 19 Psygnosis
- 20 Rage
- 21 Rainbow Arts
- 22 Rebellion
- 23 Sierra
- 24 Sony
- 25 Sumo Digital
- 26 Ubisoft
- 27 U.S. Gold
- 28 Virgin
Their early days as the first third-party VCS developer are relatively well-known. In-house development apparently continued for some time after the crash but might have stopped in the late 80s/early 90s. When they acquired Infocom, some developers might have moved to the west coast. In the mid-to-late 90s, there was an in-house studio in Santa Monica, probably responsible for MechWarrior 2, Heavy Gear, Interstate 76, Star Trek: Armada, Call to Power etc. In the UK in the 80s, there was an in-house group called Software Studios, which might have done in-house development or just coordinated external development.
Originally KnowWonder, changed name in 1999. Acquired Realtime Associates Seattle Division in 1999, which became Griptonite, and created Adrenium as a new studio. The three studios apparently co-existed for some time, but games were released under the various brands over the years, no matter where they were developed.
Had various studios all over England - Portsmouth/Fareham, London, Brighton, Notthingham, and one in Los Angeles/Santa Monica. All were known under various names and brands over the years.
HQ based in Warwickshire (Leamington Spa or Southam). Had additional studios in Guildford, Cheshire (formerly Evolution Studios), Birmingham (formerly Sega Racing Studio), Oakhurst, California (formerly Sierra/Yosemite Entertainment) as well as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Pune, India.
Had development locations in Paris and Bordeaux. Might also have published external projects in the early days.
A development team headed by Kevin Bulmer, based in or near Birmingham. Bulmer was also involved with Dimension Creative Designs and Synthetic Dimensions, which might all have been the same entity under different names.
Had an in-house development team called The Kremlin. Continued development into the mid-90s after acquision by Eidos, but not for long.
US in-house development didn't start until ca. 1987. Became Redwood Shores on EA's move to Redwood, later Visceral Games. Mutant Productions (and possibly Hitmen, though that might have been Canada) were probably internal teams. In the UK, in-house development began in the mid-90s and later merged with Bullfrog to become a single UK studio, later known as EA Bright Light. The short-lived EA Manchester developed Privateer 2, many of its developers later founded Warthog. A German in-house studio developed football managers in the early 2000s.
Based in Sheffield. Published both in-house and external projects. Had a Derby development location (whose developers later formed Core Design) as well as development operations in Ireland. There was also a Birmingham team that apparently operated out of the U.S. Gold offices. Acquired by Infogrames in 1999/2000 with the Sheffield studio becoming Infogrames Sheffield House.
Originally a publisher based in the UK, with their games developed by freelancers like Ed Grabowski and Simon Bradbury (whose team might have been called Golden Sector). Opened a US office in 1992 which eventually formed an in-house development group: artists like Chris Beatrice, Heidi Mann, Dennis Rose, Andrea Muzeroll, Scot Forbes, Chin‑Mei Yu, Mike Malone, Darrin Horbal, programmers like Dean Lawson, Thanh Pham, Chris Gurski, Chris Plakyda, Mike Gingerich, Tony Hosier, designers like Jeffrey Fiske, Gregor Koomey, Steven Serafino, Doug Gonya. I can't tell if there was ever actual in-house development in the UK, it might all have been freelance. After the company's demise, most of the former US developers founded Tilted Mill, some UK (like Bradbury, Andrew Prime) and US (like Eric Ouellette, Horbal) developers founded Firefly Studios.
- Simon Bradbury interview
- Chris Beatrice interview
- Gary Bendelow CV
- Chris Foster portfolio
- Darrin Horbal resume
- Heidi Mann resume
- Scot Forbes resume
- Chapter about Impressions in founder David Lester's book "How They Started in Tough Times"
Based in Lyon. Published internal and external projects. Later acquired a Paris studio from Psygnosis, Ocean and Gremlin in the UK and Beam Software/Melbourne House in Australia.
Originally based in Brisbane, with a second studio in Adelaide. Acquired Beam Software/Melbourne House which became Krome Studios Melbourne.
The games developed at the main office in Cambridge, MA, are well-known and acclaimed, but the company also had offices in Redmond and Austin. The Austin office, led by Warren Spector, did not last long and only did concept and/or prototype work before it was shut down and a group of developers moved to create Ion Storm's Austin studio. The Redmond studio might have arisen from LG's new owner Intermetrics. They were most likely responsible for console development, including the N64 games the company released.
Headquarters based in Hunt Valley. For a few years, in-house development was unter the "MPS Labs" label. Merged with Spectrum HoloByte (then in Alameda) in 1993/1994. Spectrum changed its name to MicroProse, Inc. in 1997 and all games were released under the MicroProse brand, no matter whether developed in Alameda or Hunt Valley. Company later acquired by Hasbro, then Atari, and the MicroProse label vanished. Last Hunt Valley project was D&D Heroes (Xbox), last Alameda project was ST:TNG Birth of the Federation. Acquisitions made: Paragon Software, Shadowmasters, SimTex, Vektor Grafix (UK). Other UK studios existed, one in Manchester (closed 1993), at least one in Chipping Sodbury (UK HQ) and/or Stroud. UK studio(s) developed Amiga and ST ports of US games as well as originals like X-COM: Terror from the Deep, Tinhead, Impossible Mission 2025.
- article on the UK studios in PC Review (UK), Issue 20, page 34
- California entities relevant regarding Holobyte: C1825119 (Spectrum Holobyte, Inc.), C1194609 (Sphere, Inc.)
- Hasbro closes studios in Alameda and Chapel Hill
- Alameda artist Stewart Stanyard's resume
HQ based in Chicago. Midway Home Entertainment was based in San Diego and probably used to be Leland Interactive/Cinematronics. San Diego was later acquired by THQ. Midway Games West was the former Atari Games, which used to be the arcade division of the original Atari. Chicago studio continues to exist as NetherRealm Studios.
Appears to have had internal development in the UK in the 90s - Outlander, Out to Lunch, Cyberspeed, Warhammer. US development also existed - Chessmaster games, Mario educational titles, Wing Commander SNES, Starwinder. It might have been related to Mindscape's acquisition by The Software Toolworks, or might have been distinct.
Based in Manchester. Had an in-house team from at least 1984 on. Published internal and external projects. Had development subsidiaries in the US and France. Manchester in-house team was called Tribe in the mid-90s. Acquired by Infogrames in 1996. Last project might have been Silver (1999).
Created by a merger of Teeny Weeny Games and Perfect 10 Productions - development might have continued as two distinct studios. Australian studio Tantalus also was related to Perfect and might have been an in-house studio at some point (but certainly outlived Perfect).
HQ based in Liverpool. Published both internal and external projects. After they were acquired by Sony in 1993, they expanded with studios in London, Stroud, Chester, Paris and Leeds, possibly Manchester. Most were shut down, Paris was sold to Infogrames (might have become Infogrames Paris House), London was merged into Sony's London Studio and Liverpool was the last to shut down in 2012.
Originally based in Liverpool, with a second studio in Newcastle. Acquired Digital Image Design (Rage Warrington), Wayward Design (Rage Bristol), RGB Tree (Rage Leeds) and two studios in Scotland. Further locations in Birmingham and Sheffield.
Major German publisher of the 1980s, which had at least some internal development. Evolved into Softgold, later Funsoft, then THQ. It's unclear when internal development stopped.
Originally based in Oxford. Acquired lots of other UK developers, operating as satellites: Core Design (Derby), TickTock (Yorkshire), Radiant Worlds (Warwick), Strangelite (Liverpool).
Mostly based in Oakhurst. HQ moved to the Seattle area (Bellevue) in 1995 or 1996; development was done in both locations. The Oakhurst studio was later renamed to Yosemite Entertainment and then shut down in 1999 (last released project: Quest for Glory V; projects in progress at the time of closure: Babylon 5: Into the Fire, Middle-earth Online, Navy SEALs). Sierra had also acquired Bright Star Technology in the Seattle area ca. 1992. The 1995/96 move might have been a merger or Bright Star might have continued as its own entity. Development in Bellevue lasted until about 2004/2005, the last released games being Hoyle Casino titles, an unreleased title being "Jonny Drama: Beatnik Secret Agent".
- Whatever happened to Middle-Earth Online, Joe Ludwig’s blog
- Jason Piel's LinkedIn
- Rabih AbouJaoudé's LinkedIn
US in-house development was first called Sony Interactive Studios America, later 989 Studios, probably based in Foster City. Might have originally been a US office of Psygnosis. Then there was Red Zone, a studio founded by former SISA employees, but based in San Diego, which was later bought by Sony. SolWorks in Carlsbad was also an acquisition. If any of these California studios somehow relate to the Santa Monica studio of God of War fame is unclear. In the UK, there was Team Soho in London, later merged with Psygnosis London/Sony Camden to become London Studio. There was also a short-lived studio in Manchester that was closed before releasing any games.
Has studios in Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle, Leamington Spa (Sumo and Lab42), Warrington, Brighton (The Chinese Room), Leeds (Red Kite Games) and one in Pune, India.
Began as a distributor/publisher, but also had in-house development, in such locations in Brittany as the Château de la Grée de Callac (though the developers there might have just been freelance) and later in Carentoir. Starting from the mid- or late 90s there was development in Paris - if that is related to any of the earlier French studios is unclear. How the entity Ludimedia relates is also unclear.
Based in Birmingham. One of the largest UK publishers in the 80s. Had some in-house development (like the Gauntlet ports and some AD&D games), but some of the team working out of their offices actually were part of Gremlin. Established Silicon Dreams as a new internal studio in 1994.
Had UK in-house development team "Gang of Five" in the 80s, and a studio in London in the 90s, which might not necessarily be the same entity. Had a US studio in California from ca. 1991/1992 on. This probably became Burst and then Westwood Pacific, later EA Pacific.