Acclaim Studios Austin
|Iguana Entertainment (1991–1999)|
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||1991Santa Clara, California, U.S.in|
|Defunct||August 27, 2004|
|Headquarters||Austin, Texas, U.S.|
|Parent||Acclaim Entertainment (1995–2004)|
Acclaim Studios Austin (formerly Iguana Entertainment) was an American video game developer based in Austin, Texas. The company was founded in 1991 by Jeff Spangenberg, previously lead designer for Punk Development, and originally located in Santa Clara, California. Iguana found first success with Aero the Acro-Bat, moved to Austin and acquired Optimus Software (later Iguana UK) in 1993. Iguana was acquired by Acclaim Entertainment in January 1995 and received another sub-studio, Iguana West in October that year. Spangenberg was fired from his position in July 1998 and filed a lawsuit on breach of contract the following October. Iguana was rebranded Acclaim Studios Austin in May 1999, and the studio was closed down in August 2004, followed by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of its parent in September 2004.
Prior to founding Iguana Entertainment, Jeff Spangenberg, a self-taught programmer who skipped college to pursue a programming career, served as lead designer for Punk Development, the development team of publisher RazorSoft. In 1991, Spangenberg founded his own company in Santa Clara, California, and hired 20 staff, including friends of his. Initially, the company did not have a name; Jay Moon, who served as development support manager for the company, explained that Spangenberg held two pet iguanas, named Spike and Killer, wherefore the team setteled on "Iguana Entertainment", with Spike and Killer serving as mascots for the company. In 1992, Several Punk Development employees joined Iguana when the partnership between Punk and RazorSoft dissolved, and Iguana hired further staff in 1993 through funding provided by publishers Sunsoft and Acclaim Entertainment.
Because of a high cost of living the in San Francisco Bay Area for Spangenberg and his employees, the company decided that they were to move their headquarters. Their first choice was Seattle, Washington, which was also the location of Nintendo of America, but getting to know Texas' expanding technology industry, several Iguana staff traveled to Austin in May 1993 to investigate the relocation possibilities in the area. The team returned with videotape of the city's Sixth Street entertainment district. All but one employee agreed to move to Austin, and the relocation was completed shortly after. Later that year, Iguana achieved its first success with Aero the Acro-Bat and used profits generated from the game's sales to acquire Stockton-on-Tees-based developer Optimus Software, which was rebranded Iguana UK.
On December 21, 1994, Acclaim announced that they had agreed into acquiring Iguana. The deal was completed on January 1, 1995, with US$5 million paid in cash and additional, undisclosed payments made in stock. In October 1995, Acclaim additionally acquired Salt Lake City-based Sculptured Software for $30 million in stock, which became part of Iguana under the name Iguana West in December 1997. Spangenberg was fired from Iguana on July 8, 1998, and several undisclosed management changes at the studio were announced by Acclaim later the same month. Additionally, the company was placed under Acclaim Studios, a new, decentralized management for Acclaim's development studios led by former Iguana employee Darrin Stubbington. In October that year, Spangenberg filed a lawsuit against Acclaim, Acclaim co-founder Greg Fischbach, and Iguana for breach of contract and fraud. The suit, handeled as "Jeffery Spangenberg vs. Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., Iguana Entertainment, Inc., and Gregory Fischbach", alleged that Fischbach urged Spangenberg to purchase Acclaim shares worth $25,000 in February 1998, and convinced him to keep them just shortly before Spangenberg was relieved of his position, resulting in his loss of stock options. Spangenberg founded a new development company, Retro Studios, on October 1, 1999.
In May 1999, Acclaim Studios announced that they would unify all development studios owned by the company under the same branding; as part of this move, Iguana, Iguana UK and Iguana West became Acclaim Studios Austin, Acclaim Studios Teesside and Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City, respectively. When Acclaim's agreement with GMAC Commercial Finance, their primarmy lender, expired on August 20, 2004, the company closed all of its facilities, including Acclaim Studios Austin, on August 27, of which the Austin and New York studios saw all employees let go. Acclaim itself filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the United States bankruptcy court in Central Islip, New York on September 1.
The "Iguana Entertainment" name was reused by brothers Jason and Darren Falcus, who founded Optimus Software in February 1988, when they created a studio of the same name in 2009. That studio was acquired by and incorporated into Team17 in December 2011.
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