U.S. Gold

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This article is about the video game company. For other uses, see US Gold (disambiguation).
U.S. Gold
Industry Computer and video games
Fate Merged into Eidos Interactive
Headquarters Birmingham, United Kingdom
Products Computer games, console games

U.S. Gold was a British video game publisher and developer from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s, producing numerous titles on a variety of 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit platforms.

History[edit]

U.S. Gold was founded in Birmingham in spring 1984 by Geoff and Anne Brown as the publishing division of their software-distribution company Centresoft. Its primary purpose was to republish popular American computer games—which the company claimed, usually had larger budgets and longer production time than British games—in the UK and Europe. Brown sold them for £9.99, much lower prices than in the United States, and purchased full-colour advertisements in computer magazines. By 1985 the company claimed to expect $6 million in annual sales. It planned to release 150 games that year from 24 American software companies, including up to 80 for the Commodore 64.[1]

When the popular computers in the UK became the ZX Spectrum and later the Amstrad CPC, Brown was faced with the problem of converting the US games he was licensing to UK formats, since the company didn't have a development capability. US Gold teamed up with a UK publisher, Ocean Software, based in Manchester, who were also very prolific at the time and they were responsible for the first US Gold conversions to UK formats. This arrangement proved difficult to continue as Ocean became more and more involved with their own development for their own games. Brown then decided to farm out his US Gold Development to independent UK developers and also founded his own development studios. This business plan proved to be an instant success, prompting U.S. Gold to expand by acquiring smaller developers and seeking out licences that they could commercialise. At the same time Centresoft became the largest UK games distributor with key High Street retail accounts such as Boots and John Menzies as well as most of the independent computer retailers. Various popular video games were ported by the company to IBM PC including Street Fighter II, Beach Head, Zaxxon, Impossible Mission, and many sports games including World Cup Italia '90 and World Cup USA '94.

The company was voted Best Software House Of The Year at the Golden Joystick Awards.[2] The publisher continued to expand their operation well into the 1990s. However, a number of their more lucrative licensing deals, particularly one with LucasArts (formerly Lucasfilm Games), fell through, threatening to affect their income. In order to help consolidate their finances, they joined forces with Brown's UK software distributor CentreSoft to form the CentreGold Plc Group. Internal game development studios owned by U.S. Gold were the internally formed Silicon Dreams and acquired Core Design in 1994. While Core Design was wholly owned by CentreGold Plc Brown developed Tomb Raider within the US Gold publishing group at Core Design.

The three-way partnership at the heart of CentreGold didn't last long, however, as the group was acquired by Eidos Interactive in April 1996. Eidos sold off CentreSoft and maintained Core Design as a developer but decided to discontinue the U.S. Gold brand. Silicon Dreams Studios was sold back to U.S. Gold founder Geoff Brown and became the keystone for his new development venture Geoff Brown Holdings (GBH).

The last retail game to bear the U.S. Gold logo was Olympic Games: Atlanta 1996, released in June 1996 for the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, PC and 3DO. The remaining U.S. Gold games awaiting publication at the time of their acquisition by Eidos were released in August 1996 with the exception of Dream Team Basketball. Dream Team Basketball was to be released on the Sony PlayStation but was cancelled.

U.S. Gold licences[edit]

World Cup Carnival controversy[edit]

U.S. Gold's release of World Cup Carnival on the C64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC came in 1986. The company had acquired the rights to produce the official computer game of the Mexico 86 World Cup football competition well in advance of the planned release date. The game was to be developed in-house, but programming and marketing problems arose that were unable to be overcome in time for the game's release. At the eleventh hour, U.S. Gold acquired the rights to Artic's World Cup Football, a football game that had been released a couple of years earlier. U.S. Gold made a few modifications and released it just in time to capitalise on the popularity of the World Cup competition.

Having been promised a revolutionary World Cup football game, gamers, critics and retailers alike saw through U.S. Gold's thinly-veiled attempt to repackage an older game. U.S. Gold responded to this initial criticism by suggesting that their game had significantly improved an old classic, but they later admitted their folly. Despite their poor handling of the Mexico 86 licence, U.S. Gold were awarded the official FIFA license to produce games for the Italy 90 and USA 94 World Cup tournaments (World Cup Italia '90 and World Cup USA '94 respectively).

Olympics[edit]

U.S. Gold were synonymous with Olympic computer and videogames for many years. The company enjoyed enormous success in the 1980s with their publication of the classic Games series from American developer Epyx. Comprising Summer Games, Summer Games II, Winter Games, World Games, California Games, California Games II, The Games: Summer Edition and The Games: Winter Edition, there was no denying U.S. Gold's ability to successfully market a high profile sporting game.

When Epyx went out of business in 1989, U.S. Gold were eager to continue publishing Olympic themed games. They decided to take advantage of their reputation as a publisher of quality licensed titles by seeking the official video game licence for the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics. The resulting game, Olympic Gold was released in 1992 for the Sega Game Gear and Sega Master System, and the 16-bit console Mega Drive/Genesis. The game was a critical and commercial success, which led to U.S. Gold producing similar titles for the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics and Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics (Winter Olympics and Olympic Summer Games respectively). The latter would be the last game to bear the U.S. Gold logo.

Capcom[edit]

U.S. Gold released computer ports of various arcade games by Capcom such as Street Fighter, Final Fight, Street Fighter II, Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Mercs and Forgotten Worlds among others. In addition to porting the original Strider, U.S. Gold released an original sequel titled Strider II (which was remade for the Sega Genesis and Game Gear and released in the U.S. under the title Journey From Darkness: Strider Returns), unrelated to Capcom's later arcade sequel, Strider 2. U.S. Gold also released a Game Gear version of Mega Man.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anderson, Chris (June 1985). "On top of the US Goldmine". Zzap!64 (interview). pp. 46–48. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  2. ^ http://www.worldofspectrum.org/showmag.cgi?mag=C+VG/Issue079/Pages/CVG07900039.jpg

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