Founded by Ken and Roberta Williams in 1979 as On-Line Systems, video game publisher Sierra returns after a long eight-year hiatus with Activision, who has owned the company since 2008. A teaser site was launched today along with an animated intro for the newly designed logo with a tease for the upcoming Gamescon 2014 convention being held in Cologne, Germany.
The news that publisher Sierra is returning is sure to bring an influx of nostalgia and frustration to what was one of the most recognizable brands in gaming during the 90’s balanced by the sad decline of the brand in the late aughts. The studio’s initial release was in 1980 with the Hi-Res Adventures with the last release being Timeshift in 2007.
After Hi-Res Adventures, Sierra went on to publish and develop some of the most iconic games of the 1980’s and 1990’s including the Ultima series’ first 3 entries, including Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash. The legacy that most gamers will know Sierra for is for co-founder Roberta Williams’ King’s Quest series which defined the “point and click” adventure series. Other titles include the Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, and Phantasmagoria.
With Phantasamagoria’s release, 1995 was the most profitable year for the company and led to an aggressive offer from CUC International in 1996 to purchase the company for $1.5 billion. The deal closed and one year later, Ken and Roberta left the company they had founded in 1979.
After the purchase by CUC, the company changed its internal structure several times which resulted in multiple restructuring efforts, layoffs, and a complete shut down of internal development in 1999. The following year saw Sierra come under the Vivendi Universal brand, which at the time owned Blizzard. In 2008, Activision and Blizzard merged together, and with it came the Sierra label. Several games were canceled or sold to other developers that were planned to be published under the Sierra brand, most notably Ghostbusters.
The last game published by Sierra was Timeshift, a first person shooter for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in October of 2007 to less than stellar reviews. Since then the brand has been defunct and rumored for sale by Activision, though no news was ever released.
With the news that publisher Sierra may be returning, gamers of a certain age will be watching Gamescon 2014 next week to see what Activision has in store for the label.