Digital Pictures

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Digital Pictures
Industry Video games
Founded 1991
Founder Lode Coen, Mark Klein, Ken Melville, Anne Flaut-Reed, Kevin Welsh, Tom Zito
Defunct 1996
Headquarters San Mateo, California[1], United States

Digital Pictures was an American video game developer founded in 1991 by Lode Coen, Mark Klein, Ken Melville, Anne Flaut-Reed, Kevin Welsh and Tom Zito.[1]

The company originated from an attempt to produce a game for the failed VHS-based NEMO game system. One of its first titles, Night Trap was originally produced as a title for the NEMO, before being converted for use with Sega's new Sega CD. The mature themed content of Night Trap made it the source of some controversy. Nevertheless, the title was a bestseller. Digital Pictures went on to create other full motion video-based titles primarily for Sega hardware, and are regarded as a pioneer of the interactive movie genre.[2] However, the company declined in the mid-1990s due to waning interest in full motion video games. Its final title, Maximum Surge went unreleased and was later repurposed into a film called Game Over.

Full motion video games[edit]

The founders of Digital Pictures met in the late 1980s while working at a division of the toy manufacturer Hasbro originally called Hasbro Interactive and later renamed Isix. The Isix team developed a video game system called NEMO (a code name abbreviation for "never ever mention outside") that used VHS tapes rather than cartridges, which allowed games to offer live action and interactive full motion video. They also developed a software prototype called Scene Of The Crime, which led to the production of two full-length titles, Night Trap and Sewer Shark.

After Hasbro executives declined to bring the NEMO system to market, closing its Isix division, key members of the Isix team founded Digital Pictures in 1991 and purchased the NEMO software assets from Hasbro. Digital Pictures converted Night Trap and Sewer Shark from their video-tape-based format to the Sega CD platform.

We're betting, ultimately, when there's an interactive cable converter sitting atop everyone's TV set, that something that feels like Citizen Kane (or at least Leave It to Beaver) will have more legs than something that feels like Mario or Princess Toadstool.[3]
Tom Zito

Throughout the 1990s, Digital Pictures continued to design interactive full motion video games for the CD-ROM format.[2] Steve Russell worked for the company for a time.[4] Several popular actors, including Steve Eastin, Corey Haim and Dana Plato appeared in Digital Pictures games.


In the early 1990s, Night Trap was singled out by numerous interest groups and by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Herbert Kohl as evidence that the video game industry was marketing games with graphic violence and other adult content to minors. Concern about Night Trap and several other games such as Mortal Kombat helped to bring about the creation of the ESRB video game rating system.


By the late 1990s, consumer interest in full-motion video games, which accounted for the majority of the company's profits, was in decline. After the collapse of the company, its assets were acquired by Cyber Cinema Interactive. The new company intended to re-release the games for DVD but that never came about. The only actual production for Cyber Cinema was the direct to video film Game Over - also known as Maximum Surge Movie. It used footage from an unreleased video game called Maximum Surge as well as clips from other Digital Pictures games. Although the film boasted stars such as Yasmine Bleeth and Walter Koenig, they only appear in the segments that had been pulled from the FMV sequences of the game, which suffer from lower image quality than the original footage.

Flash Film Works later acquired the rights to some of the games with plans to release them for iTunes and Google Play starting in late 2016.

Games developed[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Making of...". Edge (215): 111–113. June 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Is This the End of FMV as We Know It?". Next Generation. Imagine Media (10): 6–7. October 1995. 
  3. ^ Zito, Tom (March 1995). "Dispatches". Next Generation. Imagine Media (3): 106–7. 
  4. ^ "The Next Generation 1996 Lexicon A to Z: Russell, Steve". Next Generation. No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. p. 40.