|Accolade, Inc. (1984–1999)|
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Fate||Merged out, "Accolade" brand name now owned by Billionsoft|
|Founded||November 12, 1984Cupertino, California, U.S.in|
|Defunct||September 11, 2000|
|Headquarters||San Jose, California, U.S.|
|Jim Barnett (CEO)|
Infogrames North America, Inc. (formerly Accolade, Inc.) was an American video game developer and publisher based in San Jose, California. The company was founded as Accolade in November 1984 by Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead, who had previously co-founded Activision in October 1979.
In April 1999, Accolade was acquired by French video game company Infogrames Entertainment for a combined sum of US$60 million, of which US$50 million in cash and US$10 million in growth capital, and was renamed Infogrames North America, Inc. The company chief executive officer, Jim Barnett, was named head of Infogrames Entertainment's American distribution subsidiary. In December 1999, Infogrames additionally acquired a controlling stake in GT Interactive for a total investment of US$135 million, and renamed it Infogrames, Inc.
On September 11, 2000, Infogrames North America was acquired by Infogrames, Inc. for 28 million market shares transitioned to Infogrames Entertainment, effectively merging Infogrames North America into a newly founded, wholly owned subsidiary of Infogrames, Inc.
In June 2017, Hong Kongese holding company Billionsoft announced that they had acquired the "Accolade" label, and announced Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, in cooperation with developer Black Forest Games and publisher Tommo, to be the first game released under it.
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Accolade's revenues grew from $1.5 million in 1985 to $5 million in 1986. It developed for most 1980s-era home computers, including the Commodore 64, Atari 400 & 800, the Amiga, Apple II and the PC. Some of their first titles include Law of the West, Psi-5 Trading Company, The Dam Busters, Mean 18 Golf, Test Drive, and HardBall!. Test Drive and HardBall! went on to become two of Accolade's longest-running franchises.
All of Accolade's initial titles were developed in-house. But being a publisher as well as a developer, Accolade began to publish titles produced by other developers as well. By the mid-1990s, most of Accolade's game development was done by third-party developers.
In October 1991, Accolade was served with a lawsuit regarding copyright infringement, that eventually led to the concept of reverse engineering for interoperability purposes. Sega wanted to keep a hold on their consoles, and wanted all its games exclusive to Sega. Unwilling to conform to single platform games, Accolade engineers reverse engineered the Genesis console and created their own development systems; until then, game developers had to obtain the systems from Sega in order to develop games for the platform. Sega sued Accolade over the practice and won an initial injunction, forcing Accolade to remove all Genesis product from store shelves. Accolade, however, won on appeal and reached an out of court settlement with Sega that allowed Accolade to continue building their own Genesis cartridges, but as an official licensee.
The company had marginal successes during the early 1990s. Bubsy for the Genesis and Super NES sold well and was the company's best-selling game until Test Drive 4 came out in 1997. Star Control 2 for the PC (1992, MS-DOS) is still very well regarded and was one of the highest rated games of its time.
However, beginning in the mid-1990s, Accolade started publishing a variety of games of differing genres which were perceived to be indistinguishing and lacking polish.
During a conference of management and producers, Accolade decided to focus only on sports and action games. Accolade already had several franchises based in these categories. Franchises in the sports genre included HardBall!, Unnecessary Roughness and Jack Nicklaus Golf. In the broad "action" category they had the long-running franchise Test Drive.
Bob Whitehead left Accolade shortly after its founding; Alan Miller left in 1995. Before Miller left, the position of CEO was taken over by Peter Harris, who was placed there by Prudential Investments (Prudential had made a US$10 million investment in the company). Harris was on the board of directors and was formerly the CEO of FAO Schwarz and after Accolade, became the president of the San Francisco 49ers. Harris left the fate of the company in the hands of game industry neophyte, Jim Barnett. Under Barnett's direction, the company relaunched the successful Test Drive series, began the Test Drive Offroad series and introduced both series to the PlayStation platform.
Accolade did well in its early years, but by the 1990s, Accolade's sales suffered and several rounds of lay-offs ensued. Under Barnett's direction, Accolade was rebuilt around action games and published Test Drive 4, 5 and 6 as well as Test Drive Offroad, all of which sold millions of units and become part of Sony's greatest hits program. Accolade was eventually purchased by French publisher Infogrames in 1999, right after publishing their last game Redline. Accolade was the entry point for Infogrames' North America expansion and was merged with Infogrames' other operations and moved to Los Angeles. All of Accolade's assets are now owned by Tommo except for the Test Drive franchise, which is currently owned by Bigben Interactive.
In June 2017, Hong Kong-based holding company Billionsoft announced that they had acquired the "Accolade" branding, and, together with developer Black Forest Games and publisher Tommo, announced the upcoming release of a fifth installment in the Bubsy franchise, Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back. The announced and accompanying trailer were met by scepticism from critics, them citing the notoriously bad reputation of the previous Bubsy title, Bubsy 3D (1996).
Games developed or published
- Staff, I. G. N. (April 19, 1999). "Infogrames Takes Accolade". ign.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Mullen, Micheal (April 27, 2000). "Infogrames Buys Accolade". gamespot.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Staff, I. G. N. (May 10, 1999). "Accolade's Barnett to Head Infogrames US". ign.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "Infogrames Entertainment Completes Acquisition of Controlling Stake in GT Interactive Software. - Free Online Library". www.thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "Infogrames Acquires Infogrames North America". www.vgf.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Ahmed, Shahed (May 17, 2006). "Infogrames Consolidates North American Operations". gamespot.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Ahmed, Shahed (May 17, 2006). "Infogrames Completes Merger". gamespot.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "Purchase Agreement between Atari, Inc. and Rebellion Developments, Stardock & Tommo" (PDF). BMC Group. July 22, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016.
- "Accolade brand returns with a new Bubsy game". gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- O'Connor, Alice (June 9, 2017). "What could possibly go wrong? New Bubsy announced". rockpapershotgun.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "The State of the 16-Bit World: Cancelled Games". GamePro. No. 91. IDG. April 1996. p. 44.