Iguana Entertainment

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Iguana Entertainment
FormerlyIguana Entertainment (1991–1999)
Acclaim Studios Austin (1999–2004)
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
Founded1991 in Santa Clara, California, U.S.
FounderJeff Spangenberg
DefunctAugust 27, 2004; 19 years ago (2004-08-27)
ParentAcclaim Entertainment (1995–2004)

Iguana Entertainment, later known as Acclaim Studios Austin, 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 (formerly Sculptured Software) 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,[1][2] served as lead designer for Punk Development, the development team of publisher RazorSoft.[3] In 1991, Spangenberg founded his own company in Santa Clara, California, and hired 20 staff, including friends of his.[1][2] 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 settled on "Iguana Entertainment", with Spike and Killer serving as mascots for the company.[2] In 1992, Several Punk Development employees joined Iguana when the partnership between Punk and RazorSoft dissolved,[3] and Iguana hired further staff in 1993 through funding provided by publishers Sunsoft and Acclaim Entertainment.[1]

Because of the high cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area for Spangenberg and his employees, the company decided to move their headquarters.[1][2] 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.[1][2] The team returned with videotape of the city's Sixth Street entertainment district.[1][2] All but one employee agreed to move to Austin, and the relocation was completed shortly after.[1][2] 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[4] developer Optimus Software, which was rebranded Iguana UK.[5]

On December 21, 1994, Acclaim announced that they had agreed to acquire Iguana.[6] The deal was completed on January 4, 1995,[7] with US$5 million paid in cash and additional, undisclosed payments made in stock.[8] In October 1995, Acclaim additionally acquired Salt Lake City-based Sculptured Software for $30 million in stock,[5] which became part of Iguana under the name Iguana West in December 1997.[9][10] Spangenberg was fired from Iguana on July 8, 1998,[2] and several undisclosed management changes at the studio were announced by Acclaim later the same month.[11] Additionally, the company was placed under Acclaim Studios, a new, decentralized management for Acclaim's development studios led by former Iguana employee Darrin Stubbington.[11] In October that year, Spangenberg filed a lawsuit against Acclaim, Acclaim co-founder Greg Fischbach, and Iguana for breach of contract and fraud.[2][12] The suit, handled 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.[2][12] Spangenberg founded a new development company, Retro Studios, on October 1, 1999.[13]

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.[14] When Acclaim's agreement with GMAC Commercial Finance, their primary lender, expired on August 20, 2004,[15] the company closed all of its facilities, including Acclaim Studios Austin, on August 27,[16] of which the Austin and New York studios saw all employees let go.[17] Acclaim itself filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the United States bankruptcy court in Central Islip, New York on September 1.[18][19]

The "Iguana Entertainment" name was reused by brothers Jason and Darren Falcus, who had founded Optimus Software in February 1988,[4] when they created a studio of the same name in 2009.[20] That studio was acquired by and incorporated into Team17 in December 2011.[5][20]


As Iguana Entertainment
Year Title Platform(s)
1992 Super High Impact Sega Genesis
1993 Aero the Acro-Bat Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1994 Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel
Aero the Acro-Bat 2
The Pirates of Dark Water Sega Genesis
NBA Jam Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Side Pocket Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1995 Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra
NBA Jam Tournament Edition PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
NFL Quarterback Club Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
NFL Quarterback Club 96 Microsoft Windows, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1996 College Slam Game Boy, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System
NFL Quarterback Club 97 PlayStation, Sega Saturn
Batman Forever: The Arcade Game
1997 All-Star Baseball '97 featuring Frank Thomas
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 64
NFL Quarterback Club 98 Nintendo 64
1998 NHL Breakaway 98
All-Star Baseball 99
Iggy's Reckin' Balls
NFL Quarterback Club 99
NHL Breakaway 99
NBA Jam 99
South Park Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 64, PlayStation
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 64
1999 All-Star Baseball 2000 Nintendo 64
As Acclaim Studios Austin
Year Title Platform(s)
1999 South Park: Chef's Luv Shack Dreamcast, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 64, PlayStation
Turok: Rage Wars Nintendo 64
NFL Quarterback Club 2000 Nintendo 64, Dreamcast
2000 Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Nintendo 64
2001 All-Star Baseball 2002 GameCube, PlayStation 2
NFL QB Club 2002
2002 All-Star Baseball 2003 GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Turok: Evolution GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox
2003 Vexx GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
All-Star Baseball 2004
NBA Jam PlayStation 2, Xbox
2004 All-Star Baseball 2005
Showdown: Legends of Wrestling
Cancelled The Red Star
100 Bullets


  1. ^ a b c d e f g IGN Staff (October 19, 2000). "Making Games Fun Again". ign.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "A Retrospective: The Story of Retro Studios". ign.com. December 17, 2004. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Techno Cop – Hardcore Gaming 101". www.hardcoregaming101.net. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Falcus Brothers Complete 15 Years in Business – Timeline Event". spong.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Caoili, Eric (December 13, 2011). "Worms Studio Team17 Amps Up Social Strategy With Iguana Acquisition". gamasutra.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  6. ^ "Acclaim to Buy Iguana". The New York Times. Bloomberg News. December 21, 1994. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  7. ^ Mills, Allyne; Harnett, Dan (January 4, 1995). "Acclaim completes acquisition of Iguana Entertainment". The Free Library. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "The End Game: How Top Developers Sold Their Studios – Part One". gamasutra.com. March 3, 2004. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  9. ^ IGN Staff (December 16, 1997). "Iguana Breaks the Ice". ign.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  10. ^ IGN Staff (April 1, 1999). "Breaking into the Industry Vol. 5". ign.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Computer game-maker shifts personnel". www.bizjournals.com. July 30, 1998. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Dial, Marla (October 4, 1998). "Iguana founder sues after firing". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  13. ^ Dial, Marla (November 30, 1998). "Iguana founder goes Retro with new company". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  14. ^ "Acclaim Studios Evolves into a Single Worldwide Entity; Internal Development Cornerstone of Product Success. – Free Online Library". Business Wire. Berkshire Hathaway. May 12, 1999. Archived from the original on August 5, 2018. Retrieved June 28, 2019 – via thefreelibrary.com.
  15. ^ "Acclaim's assets to go on the auction block". www.bizjournals.com. December 8, 2004. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  16. ^ Perry, Douglass C. (August 27, 2004). "Acclaim Closes Offices". ign.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  17. ^ Feldman, Curt (August 31, 2004). "Acclaim shutters offices, staffers ushered off premises". gamespot.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  18. ^ Feldman, Curt (September 1, 2004). "Acclaim bankruptcy now official". gamespot.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  19. ^ Carless, Simon (September 2004). "Gamasutra – The Art & Business of Making Games". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Team17 hires Iguana Entertainment founders". gamesindustry.biz. December 13, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2018.