Virgin Interactive

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Virgin Interactive Entertainment (Europe) Ltd.
Industry Video game industry
Fate Sold
Founded 1981 (1981)
Defunct 2003
Headquarters London, England
Key people
Production output
Entertainment software
Revenue $6.3 million (1993)[1]
Owner Virgin Group Ltd.
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Virgin Interactive Entertainment was a British video game publisher owned by the Virgin Group. It was formed as Virgin Games Ltd. in 1982. Initially built around a small development team called the Gang of Five, the company grew significantly after purchasing budget label Mastertronic in 1987.
Virgin helped launch the careers of renowned developers who went on to start other studios that created successful franchises like Westwood Studios (Command & Conquer series) and Shiny Entertainment (Earthworm Jim). In 1994 it was renamed Virgin Interactive Entertainment. The publisher was widely known for making Disney and major studio motion picture-based games such as The Lion King, Aladdin, RoboCop and The Terminator, as well as publishing popular titles in Europe from other companies like Capcom's Resident Evil and Street Fighter and id Software's Doom II.
VIE ceased to exist in mid-2003 after being acquired by French publisher Titus Software, itself was acquired by Interplay Entertainment in 2005. The VIE library and intellectual properties are currently owned by Interplay Entertainment as a result of its acquisition of Titus. A close affiliate and successor, Virgin Play, folded in 2009.


Nick Alexander started Virgin Games in 1982 after leaving Thorn EMI. It was headquartered in Portobello Road, London. The firm initially relied on submissions by freelancer developers, but set up its own in-house development team in 1984, known as the Gang of Five. Early successes included Sorcery and Dan Dare.[2]

Virgin Interactive published games for PC and systems, including the Amiga, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, C64, Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast.

It helped the career of many developers, including Westwood Studios (who developed Command & Conquer Series and the PC port of Resident Evil) and Northwest Synergistic Software. Also, many workers for Shiny Entertainment, including David Perry, worked for Virgin before splitting off to create Earthworm Jim.

Also among Virgin Interactive alumni are famed video game composer Tommy Tallarico, artist Doug TenNapel, designer David Bishop, animator Bill Kroyer, animator/artists Andy Luckey and Mike Dietz and programmer Andy Astor.

In 1993 Virgin Interactive created the "Digicel" process, originally for an unpublished game called "Dynoblaze" which was managed by Andy Luckey, Paul Schmiedeke and Bill Kroyer. Bill K. Key to developing the process were Dr. Stephen Clarke-Willson, David Perry, designer David Bishop, animator Bill Kroyer, animation producer Andy Luckey, technical director Paul Schmiedeke, animator Mike Dietz and programmer Andy Astor. The technology was first released to the general public in Disney's Aladdin for the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis and subsequently on such projects as The Lion King video game.

In late 1993 Virgin formed a new company, Virgin Sound & Vision, to focus exclusively on CD-based entertainment.[3] In January 1994 Blockbuster Entertainment, then the world's largest video-store chain, acquired 20 percent of Virgin Interactive Entertainment in an effort to expand beyond its video store base.[4] The partnership ended a year later when Blockbuster sold its stake to Spelling, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., Viacom had planned to sell Spelling and buy Virgin Interactive out of Spelling before the sale. While it abandoned the Spelling sale some time ago, the collapse in the games market appears to have killed off any interest in buying Virgin.[5][6]

The worldwide operations were acquired by Interplay Entertainment in a majority stake buyout backed by Mark Dyne, who became its Chief Executive Officer in 1998. Tim Chaney, the former Managing Director was named president. The U.S. operations were divested to Electronic Arts as part of its $122 million acquisition of Westwood Studios that same year.[7]

VIE's equity shares were sold to Interplay (43.9%) and Titus (50.1%) in February and October 1999, respectively. Titus took control of all assets and IPs while Interplay got distribution rights of Virgin's titles in the Americas.[8] VIE ceased to exist as an independent entity after all assets were transferred to Titus Software in 2003.[9]

The Company's assets were acquired by the French publisher Titus Software—its name was changed to Avalon Interactive on July 1, 2003. Titus/Avalon became defunct in 2005.

In May 2002, the Spanish division of Virgin Interactive, known as Virgin Interactive España, was purchased by Tim Chaney along with former Spanish president and founder Paco Encinas. The branch was then separated from the main Virgin Interactive company, already part of Titus Software, and kept its own identity as a Virgin brand. Renamed Virgin Play in October 2002, Chaney left in 2008, it then entered liquidation in 2009.[10][11]


Titles Developed

Titles Published

Source: Giant Bomb [12]


  1. ^ "Blockbuster Buys Slice Of Virgin Video Game Division". Billboard January 29, 1994: 5. 
  2. ^ Fisher, Andrew (July 2014). "Gang Leaders: A Gang of Five Retrospective". Retro Gamer (131): 44–49. ISSN 1742-3155. 
  3. ^ "Virgin". GamePro (56) (IDG). March 1994. p. 186. 
  4. ^ McCash, Vicki (1994-06-30). "Blockbuster To Gain Control Of Game Maker". Orlando Sun-Sentinel. 
  5. ^ Peers, Martin (1997-02-20). "Spelling plans offering to sell Virgin Interactive". Orlando Sentinel. 
  6. ^ Christman, Ed (1995-05-06). "Alliance May Offer Stock: Blockbuster, Virgin Settle". Billboard May 6, 1995: 50. 
  7. ^ "Virgin Interactive May See Management Buyout". Telecom.paper BV. 1998-09-02. 
  8. ^ "Titus Interactive Agrees Terms to Acquire Control Of Virgin Interactive Entertainment LTD" (Press release). Paris: Titus Interactive. PRNewswire. October 7, 1999. 
  9. ^ "Virgin Interactive company and contact information". Computer Hope. 
  10. ^ "Virgin Play in trouble". MCV UK. 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  11. ^ "Chaney on the prowl for studios". MCV UK. 2009-06-18. Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  12. ^ "Virgin Interactive Entertainment". Giant Bomb. CBS Interactive Inc. 

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