Humongous Entertainment, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
Founded1992; 30 years ago (1992) in Woodinville, Washington, U.S.
Founder
Headquarters,
U.S.
Parent
Websitehumongous.com

Humongous Entertainment, Inc. was an American video game developer based in Bothell, Washington. Founded in 1992, the company is best known for developing multiple edutainment franchises, most prominently Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam and Spy Fox, which, combined, sold over 15 million copies and earned more than 400 awards of excellence.[1]

Humongous Entertainment was acquired by GT Interactive (later renamed Infogrames, Inc., then Atari, Inc.) in July 1996. By October 2000, sales of Humongous games had surpassed 16 million copies.[2] GT sold Humongous to its parent company, Infogrames (later renamed Atari SA), in August 2005, as a result of which the company was shut down a few months after. Infogrames transitioned the label to a new company, Humongous, Inc., which continued publishing games under the Humongous label until 2013, when it faced bankruptcy. As part of the bankruptcy agreement of the Atari SA subsidiary Atari, Inc., Humongous, Inc. and Atari Interactive, Tommo acquired the Humongous brand and all of its assets, and went on to re-release some of its games into digital distribution channels in conjunction with Night Dive Studios.

History

Formation (1992–1996)

Humongous Entertainment was formed by Shelley Day and Ron Gilbert in 1992, then based in Woodinville, Washington.[3] The name Humongous Entertainment was suggested by Gilbert's ex-LucasArts colleague, Tim Schafer.[4] It became known for creating four point-and-click adventure game series intended for young children, branded collectively as "Junior Adventures", with the four series being the Putt-Putt series, the Freddi Fish series, the Pajama Sam series and the Spy Fox series. Despite all four series being developed and released in parallel, characters from one series do not formally cross over with ones in another and instead appear as cameos or Easter eggs in any of the three other series. The company became the third largest children's educational-software company.[5]

In 1995, Gilbert and Day established a company division, Cavedog Entertainment, in Seattle, set to develop games of alternative genres, and released Total Annihilation, a real-time strategy (RTS) game, in 1997. This was followed by two expansion packs in 1998, as well as a variation called Total Annihilation: Kingdoms plus an expansion pack in 1999.[6]

Acquisitions, decline, dissolution (1996–2006)

On July 11, 1996, Humongous Entertainment was purchased by GT Interactive for US$76 million.[7] In November 1997, Humongous Entertainment signed a five-year worldwide deal with Nickelodeon to develop games based on the Nick Jr. series, Blue's Clues, making it the first and only time that Humongous has developed games based on a licensed character as opposed to its original characters.[8] In November 1999, GT Interactive was acquired by Infogrames and renamed it Infogrames, Inc. In 2000, Humongous Entertainment released a One-Stop Fun Shop activity center game for each Junior Adventure series, with the exception of Spy Fox.[9] The co-founders tried to buy Humongous Entertainment back from Infogrames, Inc., using external funding, but the day of the planned purchase was the day of the dot-com collapse, wherefore the funding was pulled. The founders soon left Humongous, alongside many other key employees, and formed a new studio, Hulabee Entertainment, in 2001. In June 2001, Infogrames, Inc. laid off 82 personnel, over 40% of staff from Humongous Entertainment.[10] In May 2003, after Infogrames, Inc. purchased Hasbro Interactive—which owned the rights to the Atari brand—the company was renamed Atari, Inc. In August 2005, facing financial struggles, Atari, Inc. sold Humongous Entertainment to majority stock holder Infogrames for US$10.3 million, under the condition that all titles developed by Humongous Entertainment are released through March 31, 2006.[11] No further game was completed by Humongous Entertainment in the given time, and the company was dissolved the day after.

Humongous, Inc. (2006-2013)

Following the closure of the main Humongous company, Infogrames transitioned all assets and brands to a newly established company, Humongous, Inc., not bound to any agreement from Atari, Inc., which would go on to publish several titles under the Humongous name.

Around this time, Humongous signed a deal with Interactive Game Group, LLC., who then signed a US publishing deal with Majesco Entertainment in March 2008 to publish Wii ports of several Humongous titles.[12] A similar publishing deal with Atari Europe was also put into place. Mistic Software developed ports of the first installments of each Junior Adventure series, except Putt-Putt, taking advantage of the Wii Remote's point-and-click functionality.[1] However, but their availability was greatly limited by a legal conflict concerning their development.[13]

Atari continued to release games in the Backyard Sports series around this time, under license from Humongous.

Asset sale, brand revival and modern ports (2013–present)

The Humongous logo used by their current owners, Tommo, Inc.
The Humongous logo used by their current owners, Tommo, Inc.

Finding itself in a difficult financial situation, Infogrames (then renamed Atari, SA), filed bankruptcy for three of its American subsidiaries, Atari, Inc., Atari Interactive and Humongous, Inc. in 2013. As part of the resolution proceedings, the Humongous brand and most game assets were transferred to Tommo on July 19, 2013. Furthermore, the Backyard Sports series was acquired by The Evergreen Group,[14] and MoonBase Commander by Rebellion Developments.[15] Using the trademark, Tommo re-launched the Humongous.com website in January 2014, and, together with Night Dive Studios, went on to re-release several Humongous Entertainment titles under the Humongous Entertainment label into digital distribution channels such as Steam and port them to smartphones, between April 2014 and August 2015.

In 2019, late into the eighth generation of video games, Humongous announced plans to port Junior Adventure games once again to contemporary consoles within the same year,[16] but the said ports never released during that timeframe.

On December 27, 2021, Humongous Entertainment announced that Putt-Putt Travels Through Time and Freddi Fish 3: The Case of the Stolen Conch Shell would be released on the Nintendo Switch on January 3, 2022,[17] followed by Switch releases of Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside, Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't so Frightening, and Spy Fox in "Dry Cereal" on February 10.[18]

Currently, the Humongous trademark is owned by Hong Kong based company Billionsoft,[19] while Tommo owns the Humongous properties.

Games developed

References

  1. ^ a b "Majesco Brings Humongous' Best-Selling Children's Properties to Wii". GameZone. March 25, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  2. ^ Kubin, Jacquie (October 1, 2000). "There's Humongous Rewards in Edutaining Little Kids". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016.
  3. ^ "Humongous Entertainment's Child's Play Develops Maturity". Los Angeles Times. 1997-09-15. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  4. ^ Dave Grossman (2009-06-19). "Q&A With the Team". Telltale Games. Retrieved 2021-02-19. True fact: It was Tim Schafer who suggested the name "Humongous Entertainment."
  5. ^ Robert Sorbo. "Cyber Elite - Shelley Day". Archived from the original on April 9, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "Cavedog Entertainment". December 12, 1998. Archived from the original on August 8, 2003. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  7. ^ "Company News; GT Interactive acquires Humongous Entertainment". New York Times. July 11, 1996. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  8. ^ "Nickelodeon and Humongous Entertainment Ink Exclusive Five-Year Worldwide Deal To Create CD-ROMs for Blue's Clues, Nick Jr.'s Top-Rated Preschool TV Show". Humongous Entertainment and Nickelodeon. November 6, 1997.
  9. ^ "Humongous Entertainment's One-Stop Fun Shops". 4 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Humongous cuts 40% of its staff". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2001-06-15. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  11. ^ "Atari Sells Humongous to Infogrames for $10.3 Million". Business Week. 2005-08-28. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  12. ^ https://purenintendo.com/majesco-entertainment-and-interactive-game-group-bring-humongous-best-selling-childrens-properties-to-wii-in-the-us/
  13. ^ Moss, Richard (January 16, 2012). "Maniac Tentacle Mindbenders: How ScummVM's unpaid coders kept adventure gaming alive". Ars Technica. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  14. ^ "The Evergreen Group Has Agreed to Acquire Backyard Sports Video Game Franchise". Business Week. 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  15. ^ "Wargaming, Rebellion and Stardock all bid on Atari assets". Gamasutra. 2013-07-22. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  16. ^ Frech, Ricky (24 April 2019). "Humongous Entertainment is Bringing Their Collection of 90s Classics to Consoles". Humongous Entertainment is Bringing Their Collection of 90s Classics to Consoles. DualShockers. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  17. ^ Humongous [@HumongousEnt] (December 27, 2021). "Freddi Fish 3 and Putt-Putt Travels Through Time will be released on January 3rd, 2022!" (Tweet). Retrieved January 4, 2022 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ Humongous [@HumongousEnt] (February 3, 2022). "Get your adventure on with four of the best games you've ever played, arriving for #NintendoSwitch on February 10th" (Tweet). Retrieved February 10, 2022 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ https://trademarks.justia.com/745/50/gt-74550441.html