Universal Interactive
FormerlyUniversal Interactive Studios (1994–2001)
TypeDivision
IndustryVideo games
FoundedJanuary 4, 1994; 28 years ago (1994-01-04)
Founders
  • Skip Paul
  • Robert Biniaz
Defunct2006 (2006)
FateConsolidated
SuccessorVivendi Universal Games
Headquarters,
US
Parent

Universal Interactive (formerly Universal Interactive Studios) was an American video game publisher. The company was established in January 1994, and led by Skip Paul and Robert Biniaz of MCA. It was best known for producing the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro platform game franchises.

In 2000, the merger of Vivendi and Universal Studios consolidated the division into Vivendi's Havas Interactive, which was renamed Vivendi Universal Games the next year. Universal Interactive continued as a label until 2006, when Vivendi began divesting ownership of Universal Studios, retaining the newly renamed Vivendi Games.

History

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2021)

Predecessors (1982–1993)

MCA, Universal's parent company from 1962 to 1990, initially licensed video games directly as merchandise. In 1982, Atari licensed and released E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a tie-in game cited as one of the biggest commercial failures in video game history. The licensing deal united director Steven Spielberg and MCA president Sidney Sheinberg with Atari general counsel Charles "Skip" Paul, who joined MCA after 1984.[1] In 1985, MCA purchased LJN, a toy manufacturer which began publishing video games in 1987.[2]

In 1990, MCA was sold to Matsushita Electric (now Panasonic), and LJN was sold to Acclaim Entertainment.[3] Within the next two years, Matsushita partnered with The 3DO Company, pledging Panasonic as a manufacturer for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, and MCA as an entertainment software partner.[4]

Universal Interactive Studios (1994–1999)

The company was founded on January 4, 1994, in tandem with the 1994 Winter Consumer Electronics Show.[5] Leading key personnel for the foundation were Skip Paul and Robert Biniaz.[6] On February 10, MCA acquired a minority stake in Interplay Productions,[7] which would publish Disruptor outside of North America, and later enter into a distribution deal with successor Vivendi Universal Games.

The company's first titles in mid-1994 were Jurassic Park Interactive, developed by Studio 3DO and initially announced in 1993; and Way of the Warrior, developed by Naughty Dog.[8][9]

Universal contracted with Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games to develop games utilizing the facilities at Universal City, under vice president Mark Cerny. They respectively released Crash Bandicoot in 1996[10] and Spyro the Dragon in 1998,[11] under publishing arrangements with Sony Computer Entertainment.

Starting in 1995, with the purchase of MCA by Canadian beverage company Seagram, Universal Studios was reorganized. By 1998, the Interactive Studios division was brought under the Universal Studios New Media Group, led by Paul Rioux.[4] That year, Cerny resigned to launch Cerny Games, which continued to consult directly with Insomniac and Naughty Dog. An in-house development unit, Universal Studios Digital Arts, was created to develop Xena: Warrior Princess.

Vivendi merger (2000–2006)

When Seagram merged Universal with Vivendi in July 2000,[12] Universal Interactive was absorbed into Vivendi's Havas Interactive (later Vivendi Universal Games) division the following year.[13] With the name also changed to Universal Interactive, it solely became a label within the company and would be used for several titles published by Vivendi. These were primarily a mix of Spyro and Crash Bandicoot sequels and licensed properties, which would eventually be consolidated under Vivendi Universal Games.

Vivendi Universal then announced that on March 3, 2006, as a result of divesting Universal Studios to General Electric, it and several of its divisions, including Vivendi Universal Games, would cease using the "Universal" name and would simply become Vivendi, with Vivendi Universal Games becoming Vivendi Games.[14] In this arrangement, Sierra Entertainment was assigned to publish future titles.

Games

Year Title System Developer Publisher
1994 Jurassic Park Interactive 3DO Interactive Multiplayer Studio 3DO Universal Interactive Studios
Way of the Warrior Naughty Dog
1996 Crash Bandicoot PlayStation Sony Computer Entertainment
Disruptor Insomniac Games Universal Interactive Studios (NA)

Interplay Productions (EU/JP)

1997 Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back Naughty Dog Sony Computer Entertainment
1998 Spyro the Dragon Insomniac Games
Running Wild Blue Shift 989 Studios (NA)

Sony Computer Entertainment (EU)

Crash Bandicoot: Warped Naughty Dog Sony Computer Entertainment
1999 Xena: Warrior Princess Universal Studios Digital Arts Electronic Arts
Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! Insomniac Games Sony Computer Entertainment
Crash Team Racing Naughty Dog
2000 Spyro: Year of the Dragon Insomniac Games
The Grinch Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Artificial Mind and Movement Konami
Crash Bash PlayStation Eurocom Entertainment Software Sony Computer Entertainment
The Mummy Game Boy Color, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Rebellion Developments Konami
Woody Woodpecker Racing Syrox Developments
2001 The Mummy Returns PlayStation 2 Blitz Games Universal Interactive[a]
Spyro: Season of Ice Game Boy Advance Digital Eclipse
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex PlayStation 2 Traveller's Tales
2002 Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure Game Boy Advance Vicarious Visions
Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex GameCube, Xbox Eurocom Entertainment Software, Traveller's Tales
Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon Xbox Ronin Entertainment
4x4 EVO 2 GameCube Terminal Reality
The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian GameCube, PlayStation 2 Point of View, Inc.
Spyro 2: Season of Flame Game Boy Advance Digital Eclipse
Monster Force
Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly GameCube, PlayStation 2 Check Six Games, Equinoxe Digital Entertainment
2003 Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced Game Boy Advance Vicarious Visions
Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend
Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox Blue Tongue Entertainment
Hulk GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox Radical Entertainment
The Incredible Hulk Game Boy Advance Pocket Studios
Spyro: Attack of the Rhynocs Digital Eclipse
Crash Nitro Kart Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox Vicarious Visions
Battlestar Galactica PlayStation 2, Xbox Warthog Games

References

  1. ^ As label of Vivendi
  1. ^ Burr, Chandler (November 30, 2000). "Hollywood's New Game". Fast Company. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Harris, Kathryn (March 27, 1985). "MCA Agrees to Acquire L.J.N. Toys : Entertainment Firm to Exchange Up to $39.8 Million in Stock". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 24, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "MCA in Pact With Acclaim". The New York Times. March 13, 1990. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Salas, Jacob (July 25, 2021). "The Universal Interactive Story". Pop History. Retrieved December 24, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Marx, Andy (January 5, 1994). "MCA gets into interactive". variety.com. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  6. ^ HARMON, AMY (January 5, 1994). "MCA Branching Out to Video Game Publishing". Retrieved July 20, 2018 – via LA Times.
  7. ^ Marx, Andy (February 11, 1994). "MCA interacts with Interplay". Variety. Retrieved December 24, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Meston, Zach. "Jurassic Park Underactive". Wired. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  9. ^ "Jurassic Park Interactive". ew.com. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Ahmed, Shahed (September 22, 2000). "Q&A: Universal Interactive Studios". gamespot.com. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  11. ^ "Spyro the Dragon official website". Universal Studios. Archived from the original on April 23, 1999. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  12. ^ Teather, David (June 19, 2000). "Vivendi seals merger". the Guardian. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "Buy Low, Sell High: Vivendi's History in Video Games". Kotaku UK. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  14. ^ "Vivendi Universal to shorten company name". gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved July 20, 2018.