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Basic Information
Company Type
Star Control, Test Drive, Jack Nicklaus Golf, Hardball, Bubsy
Video game development and publishing
Key People
Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead, founders

Accolade was an American video game developer and publisher of the 1980s and 1990s. Headquartered in San Jose, California,[1] it was founded in 1984 by game industry veterans Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead. Miller and Whitehead founded Accolade after leaving another game developer and publisher they had founded, Activision, the world's first third-party game developer.

History[edit | edit source]

Early years[edit | edit source]

According to legend, Miller and Whitehead named their company "Accolade" because it came before "Activision" alphabetically—implying that Accolade was superior to their previous company. Apparently when forming Activision, they chose that name because it came before "Atari". Later, a new game development company, Acclaim, another company formed from ex-Activision employees, apparently formulated their name because it came before "Accolade."[2] Absolute Entertainment, again, a third company formed from ex-Activision people, ended up being first with the 'first in the alphabet' race.

File:C64 Hardball.png
HardBall!, here seen on the Commodore 64, started a series that went on to become one of Accolade's most popular franchises.

Accolade developed for most 1980s-era home computers, including the Commodore 64, Atari 400 & 800, the Amiga, Apple II and the PC. Most of their employees were ex-Activision programmers and producers, therefore their technical prowess came with it. Accolade quickly became known for developing only top-notch games. 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.

As the popularity of other systems waned, Accolade focused on PC and console development, including the NES, Mega Drive/Genesis, SNES and PlayStation during those systems' popularity.

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 software 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 use, Accolade engineers researched through reverse engineering on a way to produce titles for the Sega 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.

Demise[edit | edit source]

The company had marginal successes during the early 1990s. Bubsy for the Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo 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, 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 undistinguished and lacked 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.

Alan Miller left Accolade in 1995; Bob Whitehead had left shortly after the founding of the company. Before Miller left, the position of CEO was taken over by Peter Harris who was placed there by Prudential Investments (Prudential had made a USD$10 million investment in the company). Harris was on the board of directors and was formerly the CEO of FAO Schwartz 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 management was forced to enact several rounds of lay-offs. 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 Atari, SA (née Infogrames). Many employees from the time of the acquisition still work for Atari.

Accolade was located in Silicon Valley (California) at:

5300 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Suite 500
San Jose, California 95129

Games[edit | edit source]

Accolade was responsible for developing many influential games. Some of the best known and best-selling series include Star Control, Test Drive, Jack Nicklaus Golf, HardBall and Bubsy.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Accolade Great Jobs Page." Accolade. February 21, 1997. Retrieved on July 8, 2010.
  2. Activision company profile from MobyGames

External links[edit | edit source]

ca:Accolade cs:Accolade fr:Accolade (entreprise) nl:Accolade (bedrijf) pt:Accolade