Welcome to the Companies wing of the Shacknews Hall of Fame class. This category celebrates the publishers, developers, and other creators that have influenced the direction of the industry and brought joy to millions of players.
When you're finished, use the Table of Contents links below to visit other areas of the Shacknews Hall of Fame.
Acclaim started off as a video game publisher, but as they grew into a well-known arcade game port company they added a lot of subsidiary studios (including Iguana Entertainment in Austin, Texas). The name of the company was chosen because it was alphabetically listed above founder Greg Fischbach's former employer Activision.
In 1995, Acclaim Studios was born out of the acquisition of Sculptured Software, Probe Entertainment, and Iguana Entertainment. Having achieved some financial success in the early 90s from porting Midway arcade titles like Mortal Kombat, Acclaim entered into agreements with the World Wrestling Federation and even MLB to make some enjoyable licensed video game titles. They even brought some versions of the NBA Jam franchise to consoles and handheld devices.
The All-Star Baseball series by Iguana Entertainment saw some commercial success on the Nintendo 64 console, and even introduced play-by-play audio commentary in its 1999 release.
While things did not end well for the company when they filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2004, Acclaim brought some amazing experiences to home consoles. From the days as an arcade port house, to their final days developing sports titles, Acclaim Entertainment left their mark on the video game industry and provided a cautionary tale for future developers and publishers.
Founded in 1982, Adobe has had a tremendous impact on the video game and software industry over its nearly 40 years of existence. Many content creators depend on their Creative Suite of software that includes PhotoShop, Premiere, After Effects, and all sorts of must-have products. The company also enabled a whole universe of games to be created that ran on the web within their Flash containers. They even invented the PDF (portable document format), but let's not hold that against them.
While Adobe isn't directly involved in the video game industry, their software and services have remained relevant in the digital creative arts space for decades, and they show no signs of slowing in the 21st century.
Founded in 1987 as Apogee Software Productions by Scott Miller, the company became 3D Realms in 1996. That year, the company release Duke Nukem 3D, which ushered in an era of over-the-top FPS games. 3D Realms is now a subsidiary company of the Embracer Group's Saber Interactive division, but their former flagship Duke Nukem intellectual property currently resides over at Gearbox.
3D Realms has shipped some Build Engine retro shooters in recent history with Ion Fury receiving some critical acclaim. While the company has changed a lot from the early days when Apogee published id Software classics Wolfenstein 3D and Commander Keen, they have undeniably affected the future of the video games medium.
Apple Inc. is currently the largest company in the world, with a market capitalization approaching a gargantuan $3 trillion. Not bad for a company founded by a hippy and a nerd from Silicon Valley. Apple cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created their company after having their prototype Apple I product turned down by executives at Hewlett Packard and Atari.
Computers were mostly massive devices when Apple I began shipping in 1976. Apple I wasn't even a full device, just a board that cost $666.66 at launch because Wozniak (Woz) loved repeating digits. Jobs had sold his VW Microbus for a few hundred dollars and Woz sold his HP-65 calculator for $500 to fund the initial Apple I inventory. The product was a success, and they were able to secure funding to make their next product.
The Apple II was a true revolution for home computing and also video games. The original operating system ran on an Integer BASIC that Woz had written out by hand. He called it Game Basic. Apple II was home to some other Shacknews Hall of Fame video game inductees like the classic Lemonade Stand video game.
By the mid 1980s, Jobs and Woz had largely exited their roles at the company. Steve Jobs went on to work at NeXT, while his good friend Steve Wozniak had become fed up with the company's leadership under CEO John Sculley, stating that Apple had "been going in the wrong direction for the last five years." By some sort of ridiculous miracle that only happens in a Disney movie, Steve Jobs returned to Apple when the company acquired NeXT for $400 million on December 20, 1996. We all know the story from there. Hell, they have made movies about it. iMac, iPod, MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, and so on.
Apple is now at the center of one of the most vibrant video gaming communities on planet Earth. Mobile games are hugely popular across globe, and Apple's iOS ecosystem is a force to be reckoned with as evidenced by their recent battles with Epic Games.
Apple truly represents the concept of the American dream. The tale of a company created in a garage by two young people that somehow became worth trillions of dollars. Wozniak and Jobs had dumped most of their shares in the 1980s, and the third cofounder Ron Wayne sold his original 10% stake in Apple for $2,300. That would be worth well over $200 billion today.
For most people born in the 90s or the 21st century, console gaming began for them with the Nintendo Entertainment System. Before that, Atari brought home gaming to the masses. With the Atari 2600, players were able to play classic games like Pitfall, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and many other old-school arcade staples. Before there was Nintendo, there was Atari.
Like many game developers in the 1980s, Broderbund straddled the line between producing games and productivity software. To many, however, it will always be a game studio first and foremost. Broderbund got its start when co-founders and brothers Doug and Gary Carlston developed space-faring strategy games for Radio Shack's TRS-80 PC.
By the late 1980s, the company was almost as well-known for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, as it was The Print Shop. Broderbund went on to publish more breakout hits such as Jordan Mechner's Prince of Persia—which flopped on the Apple II, its original platform, only to find new life on the Macintosh—and Rand and Robyn Miller's Myst point-and-click adventure game.
Few developers and publishers have as many flagships as Capcom. Mega Man helped shape platforming and nonlinear play, Street Fighter II and its offspring revolutionized fighting games and gave arcades as we knew them in the late '70s and '80s a last gasp, and Resident Evil grew from a survival horror game into a multimedia juggernaut spread across books, films, and television.
Those franchises are still as dominant in the 2020s as they were decades earlier, and are joined by a legion of remasters and remakes that keep Capcom's beloved roster of franchises fresh for new and old generations.
The Enix Corporation was not always invested in video games. In fact, the company was founded in the mid 70s and focused more on publishing tabloids about real estate. However, the company would pivot to home gaming in the early 80s, mainly focusing on titles in Japan. From here, Enix would be the face of one of Japan's biggest RPG franchises: Dragon Quest.
Dragon Quest would become a massive phenomemon in Japan and North America, but as the demand for bigger sequels with larger scopes became the norm, Enix found itself struggling to keep up. With that, Enix partnered with another publisher that was having its own financial struggles: SquareSoft. With their forces combined, the newly-formed Square Enix would become a publishing juggernaut that remains a force in gaming to this day.
In 2021, we know the studio as Epic Games or simply Epic, fine purveyor of Fortnite and, once upon a time, the bestselling Gears of War series that helped drive the success of Microsoft's Xbox 360. Epic's history dates back to the 1980s when Tim Sweeney, as savvy a programmer as id Software's John Carmack, was writing engines (though they weren't known as such back then) to power 2D sidescroller Jazz Jackrabbit on MS-DOS. Epic's biggest hit in the 1990s was Unreal, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous FPS whose weapons, enemies, and environments rivaled those of id Software's Quake and Quake II.
Unreal Tournament and Quake III: Arena were the cream of the crop in the arena-shooter space, and UT's success gave Epic the opportunity to branch out into licensing its Unreal engine, which has been at the forefront of graphics technology for decades.
Few developers have had as much influence on game design in the 2010s and early 2020s (and counting) as FromSoftware. Until 2009, the studio was known for developing cult classics like King's Field, a dark fantasy-themed first-person game and a launch title on Sony's PlayStation, and the Armored Core franchise that put you in the seats of mechs.
The studio's fortune changed when 2009's Demon's Souls gained momentum through word-of-mouth. The Dark Souls series, along with Bloodborne and Sekiro, enjoyed critical and commercial success, and has left an indelible mark on game design as evidenced in titles like 2021's Returnal, 2012's ZombiU, and 2017's Hollow Knight, just to name a few.
HAL was founded in 1980 by a group of young game developers (including future Nintendo President Satoru Iwata) in Japan. The company has been closely tied to Nintendo franchises throughout history, but they remain independent. HAL's most famous intellectual property is definitely the Kirby franchise, but the studio got started developing Lot Lot, Othello, and Air Fortress on the NES. It wasn't until their 1989 release of Adventures of Lolo that one of their titles actually achieved enough success to warrant sequels.
That all changed in 1993, when HAL shipped Kirby's Adventure. That franchise continues to surprise and delight fans all these years later, but HAL also had their hands in some other iconic games including the SNES port of SimCity. Another iconic franchise launched in partnership with Nintendo was the platform fighter Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64.
While many people think of Kirby when they think of HAL Laboratory, it is hard to ignore their massive influence on the video game industry across many consoles, franchises, and now even on mobile devices with their game Part Time UFO.
During their time Hudson and their bumblebee mascot helped launch some of the biggest games of the 80s and early 90s. They were the house that built Bomberman, Bonk and Adventure Island just to name a few. And while their influence can be seen on every home console and arcade of yesteryear they had a particularly solid relationship with NEC and launched a hefty amount of the Turbografx-16's game catalog.
While the company has since been absorbed by Konami, their legacy and impact on the gaming community will live forever.
From the smooth-scrolling technology that powered Commander Keen and the eye-melting speed of the early Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake installments, to the resurgence of arena-style shooters with Doom "2016," id Software has established itself as a pioneer in the video game industries. For several years, id was the only FPS developer able to knock its own games off their perch at the tops of sales charts. Wolfenstein 3D was great, but Doom, with its tenebrous lighting, sprawling level design, and the introduction of deathmatch, was better. Then came Quake—not the first true 3D FPS, but the first to popularize esports and online gaming.
One could argue id lost its way through the early 2000s and 2010s, but the releases of Doom 2016 and its critically acclaimed follow-up, Doom Eternal, proved that even under a new generation of leadership, id never lost its Midas touch.
- Long Read) Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters
- Long Read) Stairway to Badass: The Making and Remaking of Doom
- Long Read) Icon of Sin: Doom and the Making of John Romero's Sigil
- Long Read) Terraform: The Making of Doom 64
- Long Read) Hell Razer: The Making of Doom Eternal
- Feature) Super Doom: How id Software's Opus Made the Jump to Super NES
- Interview) Apollo 11 Situations: John Romero on Porting Doom and Wolfenstein 3D
You could put Interplay into the Hall of Fame just for the first couple of Fallout games alone, but this company had a hand in building a number of other great titles as well. Whether we’re talking about the original Baldur’s Gate, Earthworm Jim, Descent, and beyond we have a lot to be thankful to Interplay for.
Before they got into the pachinko business, Konami was one of the most recognized third-party developers in gaming. They helped make franchises like Castlevania and Contra into household names, creating breathtaking trilogies on Nintendo's consoles. They even planted the seeds for the Metal Gear franchise with the original Metal Gear on the NES.
Some might have assumed that Lucasarts was built to create Star Wars games. They did eventually do that, albeit later down the line, introducing the gaming world to the Dark Forces series and the X-Wing/TIE Fighter games. However, the gaming house that George Lucas built is mostly remembered for some of the PC's greatest adventure games, like the Monkey Island series, the Sam & Max games, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, and many more.
For many years, Lucasarts was the standard bearer for adventure titles.
Microsoft was never supposed to get involved in the games business. A group of upstarts determined to publish great PC games—mostly as a way to sell Windows 95 to players and developers—started a groundswell of support within the company that gave us the Age of Empires franchise, the DirectX group, and, since 2001, the Xbox family of consoles.
Microsoft continues to turn the industry upside down. Platforms like Xbox Live, Xbox Live Arcade, Game Pass, and a focus on backwards compatibility have gifted developers with more ways to manifest their heady visions, and gifted players with more ways to experience them.
- Long Read) Bet on Black: How Microsoft and Xbox Changed Pop Culture
- Interview) Last One at the Table: Phil Spencer on Inheriting Xbox One and Launching Xbox Series X
Nintendo was founded in 1889 as Nintendo Karuta by Fusajiro Yamauchi, and was originally known for producing handmade hanafuda playing cards. Before entering the video game industry, the company experimented in several other lines of business including instant rice, a taxi service, and even love hotels.
In the early 1970s, Nintendo released their first consumer electronics product a Beam Gun toy in a partnership with Magnavox. This set the company off in a new direction that lead to the release of the flagship Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980s. Nintendo has gone on to build some of the most recognizable video game franchises in history, with their Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid intellectual properties still cranking out hits to this day.
The company has always been willing to take risks when it comes to their products, shipping the first mainstream analog controller in the Nintendo 64 era, and introducing the world to motion controls with the Wii. Their most successful video game system is still the Nintendo DS line of products with over 154 million hardware units sold. The company continues to expand its reach with the currently successful Nintendo Switch line of products, and internal efforts to bring their IP to entertainment outlets like the upcoming Mario movie and the Super Nintendo World partnership with Universal Studios.
Nintendo has already made an indelible mark on the video gaming space with an amazing track record of surprising and delighting their fans, and their continuing contributions to the industry only help cement their place in the Shacknews Hall of Fame.
Before Rare hit the dangerous waters with Sea of Thieves, they created games for a number of classic platforms. Whether it was RC Pro-Am on the Nintendo Entertainment System or Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo, Rare was one of the biggest third-party developers in the world. In fact, Rare would revolutionize what console graphics were capable of with DKC and also push the envelope with games like Conker's Bad Fur Day.
SEGA is one of those words that you hear when you say it. You’ve either got a hurried frantic shouting of “SEGA!” running through your head right now or an airy, harmonized group of slightly pixelated voices softly singing “SEGAAAAAAA”. While today the company is known for a number of its game franchises that includes Sonic the Hedgehog, Crazy Taxi, and Jet Set Radio, the company rose to its iconic status competing with Nintendo during the console wars of the late 80s/early 90s and beyond. They deserve to be in the Hall of Fame for Dreamcast alone.
SNK Corporation (otherwise known as Shin Nihon Kikaku) was born in the late 70s and began life looking to take advantage of the golden age of arcades. The company would release Ozma Wars and Safari Rally before spending the next decade pivoting to home gaming. Even after the great video game crash of the 80s, SNK continued to work with Nintendo as a third-party publisher. SNK would later put itself on the map with Ikari Warriors, which was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and a host of other platforms.j
SNK would try its hand at its own home console in the 1990s with the Neo Geo. The company prided itself on a console that delivered better graphics and performance without the typical CPU and memory compromises of the competition. While it wasn't a success on the level of the Super Nintendo or the Sega Genesis, it wasn't the failure that other competitors were. The Neo Geo would put together a powerhouse first-party library, led by franchises like Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, and Metal Slug, just to name a few.
SNK has had its ups and downs over the years. The company declared bankruptcy in the early 21st century, which would ultimately end the company's home console endeavors. However, the brand would be restored back in 2015 and SNK would return to issuing out new titles for some of its most recognized franchises, including an all-new King of Fighters set to release in 2022.
In a lot of ways Sony has Nintendo to thank for getting them into the gaming console market. Sony had designed a CD expansion for Nintendo’s Super Famicom. The console was even revealed at CES a day before Nintendo announced they would not be moving forward with the partnership. Little did they know, they were giving birth to what would end up becoming a home console powerhouse. Sony’s PlayStation would end up being the original home of Crash Bandicoot and would go on to spawn a number of iconic series including the first Metal Gear Solid and, later on, God of War to name a few.
Now on the fifth generation of PlayStation consoles, Sony is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
In the early age of video games, few publishers were more synonymous with role-playing games than SquareSoft. While the development studio would first start off life creating The Death Trap and Will: The Death Trap 2, they would eventually enter the console gaming world and put together games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Its most famous effort was Final Fantasy, from which the JRPG as everyone knew it was born.
Square's RPG output was unmatched, pumping out classic after classic in the Final Fantasy series. They would also release other distinguished titles like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and SaGa Frontier. They were also the driving force behind Mario's first foray into RPGs with Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, as well the team behind another crossover phenomenon: Kingdom Hearts.
Now merged with Enix, Square has become one of the biggest gaming publishers in the world and looks to continue defining the RPG with efforts like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and the upcoming Forspoken.
Odds are if you grew up playing video games in the 80s or 90s there was at least one game you loved by Williams or Bally Midway. The list of video games and pinball tables that Bally Midway/Williams had a part in making is quite literally astounding. These giants of the industry helped bring so much to market that it’s hard to know where to begin. We’re talking Ms. PAC-MAN, Joust, Spy Hunter, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and Rampage just to name a few.
Then there’s all the pinball machines like Addams Family, Theater of Magic, and Attack from Mars, the latter of which is considered one of the greatest pinball games of all time. While the company may have dissolved in the late 2000s, it was one hell of a run.
Some of our readers may never heard of Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), but you have definitely benefited from this team's research and development efforts. Many of the present day features of personal computers and even gaming devices were born at Xerox PARC. Many innovations that are taken for granted in modern personal computing were born at Xerox PARC. Laser printers, graphical user interface, mouse navigation, ethernet-based LANs, object-oriented programming, and many more useful innovations came out of this Xerox engineering division.
While many of these technological breakthroughs were implemented by Apple and Microsoft down the road, Xerox PARC brought amazing ideas to life and changed the future of computing forever. Even though the company and their engineers may not have been rewarded with the mass fortunes created at Apple and Microsoft, they can hold their heads up high knowing that they are now a part of our inaugural Shacknews Hall of Fame inductee class.
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