Rockstar Vienna

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Rockstar Productions GmbH
Rockstar Vienna (2003–2006)
Formerly
Neo Software Produktions GmbH (1993–2003)
Subsidiary
IndustryVideo games
FateDissolved
SuccessorDeep Silver Vienna
Founded4 January 1993; 27 years ago (1993-01-04) in Hirtenberg, Austria
Founders
  • Hannes Seifert
  • Niki Laber
  • Peter Baustädter
Defunct11 May 2006 (2006-05-11)
Headquarters,
Austria
Key people
Number of employees
100+ (2006)
Parent

Rockstar Productions GmbH (trade name: Rockstar Vienna; formerly Neo Software Produktions GmbH) was an Austrian video game developer and a studio of Rockstar Games based in Vienna. The company was founded as Neo Software, by Hannes Seifert, Niki Laber and Peter Baustädter in January 1993, then located in Seifert's house in Hirtenberg. Following the success of their first release, Whale's Voyage (1993), they moved to Vienna in 1994. In the years following, they also released The Clue! (1994) and The Sting! (2001).

Following the acquisition of Neo Software by Computec Media in June 1999 and its subsequent sale to Gameplay.com in February 2000, the company was disposed of and sold to Take-Two Interactive for GB£1 in January 2001. From that point on, their focus would shift away from making games, and instead to porting such, the first being Max Payne (2001). In January 2003, Take-Two Interactive moved Neo Software to their Rockstar Games label, where it became Rockstar Vienna. The renamed company exclusively developed ports for Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, all of which were released by Rockstar Games in 2003.

In May 2006, Take-Two Interactive abruptly shut down Rockstar Vienna, leaving over 100 employees fired. Manhunt 2, which was in development at the studio at the time, was transferred to Rockstar London to finish the development. Seifert and Laber, together with Jürgen Goeldner, announced a successor to the company, Games That Matter Productions, in January 2007.

History[edit]

Foundation and initial success (1993–1999)[edit]

Neo Software was founded by Hannes Seifert, Niki Laber and Peter Baustädter on 4 January 1993, as the team neared the completion of their first game, Whale's Voyage.[1] The company's headquarters were established in Seifert's house in Hirtenberg.[1] Whale's Voyage was released that same year by Flair Software.[2] Following onto the success of the game, Neo Software moved to Vienna, Austria's capital city, the following year.[3] Other notable releases by Neo Software included The Clue! (1994) and its sequel, The Sting! (2001).[4]

Acquisitions (1999–2006)[edit]

On 1 June 1999, German media company Computec Media announced that they had acquired a 51% majority stake in Neo Software for shares of common stock worth DM 2 million.[5] Computec cited DM 10 million profit generated from Neo Software's Rent-a-Hero (1998) and Alien Nations (1999) as reasons for the purchase.[5] On 23 February 2000, Gameplay.com announced that they had acquired five of Computec Media's computer-related companies, which included Neo Software, for GB£11.8 million in cash, and shares of common stock worth another GB£35.8 million.[6][7] On 31 January 2001, Gameplay.com proceeded to dispose of Neo Software by selling it to Take-Two Interactive for a total of GB£1.[8][9]

Neo Software's first project under the new parent was developing a port of Remedy Entertainment's Max Payne for Xbox, which was released in December 2001.[10] On 17 January 2003, during the studio's tenth anniversary celebrations, Take-Two Interactive announced that the studio had become part of their Rockstar Games label, and would henceforth be known as Rockstar Vienna.[11] As Rockstar Vienna, the studio developed the Xbox and PlayStation 2 conversions for Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, as well as the Xbox ports for Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, all of which released in 2003.[12] Furthermore, they assisted Rockstar San Diego with the development of their Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, which was released in 2006.

Closure, Manhunt 2, successors[edit]

On the morning of 11 May 2006, in a cost-cutting exercise and without prior notice, Take-Two Interactive closed down the Rockstar Vienna facility, making all of its employees redundant.[13][14] According to Rockstar Vienna video game designer Jurie Horneman, workers that turned up at the studio were greeted by security guards, who pointed out that the company had been dissolved "due to the challenging environment facing the video game business and [Take-Two Interactive] during this platform transition".[15] At that point in time, Rockstar Vienna employed over 100 people, making it the largest video game developer in Austria and Germany.[16] All laid-off staff were given care packages in accordance with Austrian law, as well as the option to continue working for another Rockstar Games studio.[17]

Before Rockstar Vienna was shut down, from January 2004 to May 2006, the studio worked on a sequel to Rockstar North's 2003 game Manhunt.[18] After Rockstar Vienna closed down, all development of the game was moved to Rockstar London, where it was finished.[19] After the game was released as Manhunt 2 in October 2007, Horneman, who acted as level designer and producer on the game while employed at Rockstar Vienna, noticed that the game's credits omitted all people who worked on the game as part of Rockstar Vienna, namely over 55 people.[20][21] Horneman stated "the majority of the work we did at Rockstar Vienna is in the released game. Rearranged and modified, but it's there."[22] Horneman further added that he was "disappointed and outraged that Rockstar Games [tried] to pretend that Rockstar Vienna and the work [they] did on Manhunt 2 never happened — the work of over 50 people, who put years of their lives into the project, trying to make the best game they could",[23] and proceeded to append the entire list of missing staff credits to his blog post.[24][25]

As a result of Rockstar Vienna's demise, multiple smaller video game companies formed in the Vienna area.[26] A successor to Rockstar Vienna, Games That Matter Productions, was founded by Seifert and Laber, alongside company partner Jürgen Goeldner, and announced on 17 January 2007.[27][28][29] By the end of January 2007, Games That Matter consisted primarily of ex-Rockstar Vienna staff.[30] In August 2007, Games That Matter was acquired by Koch Media, became part of their Deep Silver label, and was renamed Deep Silver Vienna.[31] Their only released game was Cursed Mountain, developed in association with Sproing Interactive and released for Wii in August 2009.[32] A second title, Ride to Hell, was announced to be developed together with Eutechnyx in January 2009.[33] However, Laber left the studio in December 2009, followed by Seifert some time later, and Deep Silver Vienna was closed on 31 January 2010.[34][35] Following Deep Silver Vienna's dissolution, Seifert joined Square Enix and became studio head of IO Interactive in Copenhagen, Denmark, and stayed in that position until February 2017.[36] Laber had already left Deep Silver Vienna in December 2009, and joined Viennese social-network game company Socialspiel, founded by former Rockstar Vienna and Deep Silver Vienna employees in 2010,[37] in August 2012.[38]

Games developed[edit]

As Neo Software[edit]

Year Title Platform(s) Publisher(s) Notes
1993 Whale's Voyage Amiga, Amiga CD32, MS-DOS Flair Software N/A
1994 The Clue! Kompart UK, Max Design
1995 Prototype MS-DOS Max Design Supportive development for Surprise! Productions
Dark Universe Supportive development for Martin
Whale's Voyage II: Die Übermacht Amiga, Amiga CD32, MS-DOS Neo Software N/A
Cedric and the Lost Sceptre Amiga Supportive development for Alcatraz Entertainment
1996 Mutation of J.B. MS-DOS TopWare Interactive Supportive development for Invention
Spherical Worlds Amiga Neo Software Supportive development for 4-Matted
Black Viper Amiga, Amiga CD32 Supportive development for Light Shock Software
Fightin' Spirit
1998 Rent-a-Hero Microsoft Windows THQ, Magic Bytes N/A
1999 Alien Nations JoWooD Productions
2001 The Sting!
Max Payne Xbox Rockstar Games Ported only; game developed by Remedy Entertainment

As Rockstar Vienna[edit]

Year Title Platform(s) Publisher(s) Notes
2003 Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne PlayStation 2, Xbox Rockstar Games Ported only; game developed by Remedy Entertainment
Grand Theft Auto III Xbox Ported only; game developed by DMA Design
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Ported only; game developed by Rockstar North
2006 Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis Wii, Xbox 360 Supportive development for Rockstar San Diego
2007 Manhunt 2 Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii Development moved to Rockstar London in 2006

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Barton, Matt (11 April 2007). "The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part III: The Platinum and Modern Ages (1994–2004), Page 2 of 12". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
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