Distinctive Software

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Distinctive Software
IndustryVideo games
FateMerged into EA Canada
SuccessorEA Canada
Key people
Don Mattrick
Jeff Sember
Paul Lee
Tarrnie Williams
Bruce McMillan
ProductsTest Drive series
4D Sports series
ParentElectronic Arts

Distinctive Software, Inc. was a Canadian video game developer established in Burnaby, British Columbia, by Don Mattrick and Jeff Sember after their success with the game Evolution.[1] Mattrick (age 17) and Jeff Sember approached Sydney Development Corporation, who agreed to publish Evolution in 1982.[2] Distinctive Software was known in the late 1980s and early 1990s for their racing and sports video games, including the Test Drive series, Stunts, 4D Boxing, and Hardball II. In 1991, Distinctive was acquired by Electronic Arts in a deal worth US$10 million and became EA Canada, which is where the most EA Sports branded games are developed.[3][1]

Unlimited Software and lawsuit[edit]

In 1989, programmers Pete Gardner and Amory Wong of Distinctive, under the pseudonym USI (Unlimited Software, Inc.), converted Sega's arcade game Out Run for MS-DOS. They used several software libraries they had developed for Test Drive II. Consequently, Accolade charged that Distinctive violated a working agreement, and sued. Accolade sought a preliminary injunction against the distribution and sale of Out Run. Distinctive Software argued that it had only used source code that did routine functions, such as clearing the video screen and that Accolade did not own a copyright on those functions. Accolade argued that their contract for Test Drive II gave them the ownership and copyright of the final product—the game—and the source code used to create it. Distinctive Software won; the court ruled that "the licensing agreement transfers to Accolade the copyright to the concept and design of the video game but not the underlying source code." The court also found that Accolade had failed to demonstrate that the balance of hardships was in its favor.[4]


Game Published Publisher Platform
4D Sports Boxing 1991 Mindscape/Electronic Arts Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Macintosh
4D Sports Tennis 1990 Mindscape DOS
Accolade Comics 1987 Accolade Apple II, Commodore 64
Ace of Aces 1987 Accolade Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64, DOS
After Burner 1988 Sega Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS
Altered Beast 1990 Sega Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS
Bill Elliott's NASCAR Challenge 1990 Konami Amiga, handheld, Macintosh, NES, MS-DOS,
Castlevania 1990 Konami Commodore 64, DOS
Champions Forever Boxing 1992 NEC TG-16
Dick Tracy: The Crime-Solving Adventure 1991 Walt Disney Computer Software, Inc. Amiga, DOS
Grand Prix Circuit 1988 Accolade Amiga, Apple IIGS, Commodore 64, DOS
Fight Night 1985 Accolade Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64
Hardball! 1985 Accolade Apple IIGS, Commodore 64
Mario Andretti's Racing Challenge 1991 Electronic Arts DOS
Metal Gear 1990 Ultra Games Commodore 64
Mission: Impossible 1991 Konami DOS
Out Run 1989 Sega Commodore 64, DOS
Pipe Dream 1990 Bullet-Proof Software Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS, NES
Stunts (4D Sports Driving) 1990 Broderbund/Mindscape Amiga, DOS
Super C 1990 Konami Amiga, DOS
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 Ultra Games/Konami Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Manhattan Missions 1991 Konami DOS
Test Drive 1987 Accolade Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS
The Cycles: International Grand Prix Racing 1989 Accolade Commodore 64, DOS
The Duel: Test Drive II 1989 Accolade Amiga, Apple IIGS, Commodore 64, DOS
The Simpsons: Bart's House of Weirdness 1992 Konami DOS
Top Gun: Guts and Glory 1993 Konami Game Boy


  1. ^ a b Zinn, Jacob (September 5, 2014). "EA Canada pushes boundaries in Burnaby". Burnaby Now. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  2. ^ Kyllo, Blaine (January 28, 2009). "Case: Vancouver's video game family tree [C]". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Electronic Arts To Buy Distinctive". The New York Times. June 18, 1991.
  4. ^ Dannenberg, Ross (May 30, 2005). "Case: Accolade v. Distinctive (N.D.Cal. 1990) [C]". Patent Arcade. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved September 26, 2019.

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