Links is a series of golf simulation video games, first developed by Access Software, and then later by Microsoft after it acquired Access Software in 1999. Microsoft also produced its own series of golf games based on Links, under the title Microsoft Golf. The Links series was a flagship brand for Access, and was continued from 1990 to 2003. The first game in the series, Links: The Challenge of Golf, won Computer Gaming World's 1991 Action Game of the Year award.
Several versions of the game and expansion packs (containing new courses and golfers mainly) were created for the Mac and PC over the years. In 1996, Access Software introduced Links LS 1997, the first of several Links games to use the LS (Legends in Sports) title. A version for the Xbox named Links 2004 was released in November 2003. It would be the final game in the series. In March 2004, Microsoft announced the cancellation of its 2004 lineup of sports games, allowing the company to focus on improving such games. The company stated, "Links is something that we're taking a hard look at what we need to do." At the end of 2004, Microsoft sold Indie Built (formerly Access Software) to Take-Two Interactive. Indie Built was later shut down in 2006.
Many members of the development team now work for TruGolf, a golf simulator company based out of Centerville, Utah. In 2021, TruGolf re-acquired the rights to the Links series, re-releasing classic editions on GOG, as well as a new title, Links E6, the first in 17 years.
The following games were developed by Access Software
Microsoft produced the following games after its purchase of Access Software in 1999.
The following disks add additional courses to the main Links games.
Before its purchase of Access Software, Microsoft published a series of golf games similar to Links, under the title Microsoft Golf. The first three games in the series are Windows-compatible versions of the early Links games, which were published for DOS. The first three entries in the Microsoft Golf series were developed by Access Software for Microsoft, and were sometimes labeled by publications as Links Lite. Microsoft subsequently published Microsoft Golf 1998 Edition and 1999 Edition, which were developed by Friendly Software as separate games not based on Links. After Access Software was acquired by Microsoft in 1999, Microsoft produced Microsoft Golf 2001 Edition, which was based on Links, and then discontinued the Microsoft Golf series to continue with the Links series. The following games were produced in the Microsoft Golf series:
|Links LS 1999||85%|
|Links LS 2000||79%|
Computer Gaming World in 1996 ranked the 1990 version of Links fifth on the magazine's list of the most innovative computer games, stating that the game "may have inspired more 'business machine upgrades' than any other game". In 1996 Next Generation ranked it 69th on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", contending that "many prefer EA's PGA series, but Links takes the title by a hair's breadth. With real life courses, and enough stats, sliders, and options to choke a horse, Links re-creates everything but the swing (which is still accomplished with a 'three click' power bar)."
During 1999, Links LS 2000 sold 104,225 copies and earned $4.6 million in the United States. Links 2001 rose to 240,000 copies and $8.2 million in the United States by August 2006, which made it the 84th-best-selling computer game released between January 2000 and August 2006 in the region. Combined sales of all Links games released in the 2000s reached 720,000 copies in the United States by August 2006.
In the United States, Links Championship Edition sold over 100,000 copies by August 2006.
Links 2003 was a nominee for PC Gamer US's "2002 Best Sports Game" award, which ultimately went to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003. The magazine's Dan Morris called Links 2003 "a terrific game".
Microsoft's golf sims in the past could be best described as "Links Lite": they were basically slightly modified versions of the venerable Links series.
Licensed from Access Software, versions 1-3 were essentially LINKS LITE [...]
[...] previous incarnations of Microsoft Golf were essentially Links Lite for Windows.