Acclaim Entertainment

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Acclaim Entertainment
Company form Corporation
Ownership type Defunct, NasdaqGS - YHOO
Founded 1987, by Jerry Yang and David Filo
Headquarters 701 First Avenue
Glen Cove , New York
United States
Industry Games
Product/Service Video Games, Comics,

Acclaim was a video game developer/publisher located in New York City with development houses in Europe and North America, they were founded in 1987 and filled for bankruptcy some time in 2004.

The companys assets were auctioned off, the name and logo were sold to Howard Marks, the former CEO of Activision who along with Neil Malhotra created the successor to Acclaim called Acclaim Games.


Founded in 1987 as a Delaware corporation, Acclaim maintained operations in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, and Japan. In its first 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, and Sculptured Software of Salt Lake City, Utah.

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).

Many of Acclaim's products were licensed titles: games based on comics, television series (including wrestling shows) and movies. 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 publishment didn't have an American branch, such as Technos Japan's Double Dragon II and Taito's Bust-A-Move series.

The waning of the arcade game industry, coupled with some poor sales and public enthusiasm from several key titles led to the eventual loss of many of their licenses. One result of this was their late refactoring of the Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX series. Late into development, semi-nude, nude and Porn content (e.g., full motion video of strippers and nude female riders) was added in hopes of boosting sales. However, like most of their other contemporary titles, BMX XXX sold poorly and was derided for its trashy content and porn gameplay. Dave Mirra himself publicly disowned the game, stating that he was not involved in the decision to include nudity. To add to that, their arcade game Batman Forever had poor sales also due to poor gameplay.

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.

During Acclaim's decline towards bankruptcy, they made several infamous business and marketing decisions. One example was a promise to UK gamers that a 500 pound prize would be awarded to up to five winners who would name their baby "Turok", to promote the release of Turok Evolution. Another was an attempt to buy advertising space on actual tombstones for a Shadowman game.

The company also had a history of shady dealings with its employees. Roughly two years after its 1995 acquisition of the Salt Lake City-based Sculptured Software, during which it offered Sculptured Software employees what looked like iron-clad contracts and stock that would be vested over the course of the contracts, it abruptly laid off about half the company, violating its own contract terms. The lay-off, however, came so abruptly 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 taking a number after a number of other creditors to sue and losing the severance package. (Personal communication from Paul G. Webb, a mid-level manager caught in the lay-off.) In 2007, one of numerous class action suits filed on behalf of stockholders was won, allowing some of these employees the chance at least to realize a return on some of the stock that had been vested. ( Named in this particular suit were founder and CEO Greg Fishbach, Edmond Sanctis, James Scoroposki and Gerard Agoglia.

Acclaim also suffered multiple lawsuits, a portion of them with former partners. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen sued over unpaid royalties. Dave Mirra sued for fear of being associated with BMX XXX. Another was from Acclaim's own investors, claiming that Acclaim management had published misleading financial reports.

Acclaim suffered severe financial problems in 2004 , the result of most of their video and video game titles (like Showdown: Legends of Wrestling) selling very poorly. 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, and Made Man.

On 1 September 2004, Acclaim filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of New York, which would virtually annihilate their company in liquidating all possible assets to pay off their enormous debt which reportedly tops USD$100 million.

An attempt to reopen the Cheltenham and Manchester studios (under the new name Exclaim) failed due to legal wrangling over IP, 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 is aimed at the US and UK "tween" multiplayer markets.

On 7 July 2006, Throwback Entertainment announced that it had acquired over 150 Acclaim-published titles and vows to bring some into the next-generation.


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