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Neversoft Entertainment
Founder(s)Joel Jewett, Mick West and Chris Ward
MergedInfinity Ward in 2014
Parent companyActivision

Neversoft or Neversoft Entertainment is a video game developer, founded in 1994 by Joel Jewett, Mick West and Chris Ward. Neversoft are most famous for their Tony Hawk series. The series was reengineered as Tony Hawk's Underground for the 2003 release. The company was acquired by Activision in 1999.

Early history[edit | edit source]

Neversoft was founded in 1994 by three employees of Malibu Interactive, (previously Acme Interactive) a division of Malibu Comics based in Westlake Village, California. At that time the primary platforms were the 16-bit consoles, the Mega Drive/Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Games for these systems could be developed by very small teams, anywhere from two to ten developers. As a result it was much easier than at present to set up a game development company, and several groups of people had already left Malibu to strike out on their own. Left Field Productions and Paradox Development being two extant companies that were founded in such a way, with others such as Clockwork Tortoise no longer in existence.

In July 1994 Neversoft was formed. They initially found work for Playmates Interactive Entertainment a then division of Playmates Toys, who were about to release a line of toys called Skeleton Warriors and wanted a game to go along with the toys and the cartoon series. Neversoft began work on the game design, and moved into offices in Woodland Hills, California.

Neversoft worked on the Sega version for five months. In December 1994 Playmates cancelled the game. They were not unhappy with the progress, but had decided that they needed to get on the 32-Bit bandwagon and develop the game for the new Sega Saturn.

1995 was spent developing Skeleton Warriors for the Sega Saturn. Over the course of this year Neversoft grew rapidly, hiring three programmers, five artists, a level designer, a tester and an office administrator. Skeleton Warriors was finished in time for the 1995 holiday season, and Neversoft began looking for other work while they ported Skeleton Warriors to the Sony PlayStation.

In 1996 Neversoft continued to expand, swelling to over twenty employees. They worked for six months on a game based on Ghost Rider for Crystal Dynamics which was cancelled due to financial problems with the publisher. They got connected to the internet (previously all communications were done with phone and fax). With some excess capacity Neversoft started to develop a game of their own design, initially called Big Guns. The technology developed there was used in their next project, a conversion of the PC game MDK. Toward the end of 1996 Neversoft sold the idea for Big Guns to Sony Computer Entertainment and they began development.

1997 was a tumultuous year for Neversoft. The MDK conversion took far longer than expected, and the Big Guns game (renamed Exodus) went through numerous design changes at the behest of Sony, and was eventually cancelled in November 1997. The company shrunk back to just twelve employees. Neversoft then spent the next few months shopping around their technology, meeting with numerous companies and looking for work.

In January 1998, just as Neversoft was about to run out of money, they had a fortunate meeting with Activision who were looking for someone to re-develop Apocalypse, a failed internal project featuring the voice of Bruce Willis. The technology developed for Big Guns turned out to be ideal for the project, Activision were impressed and Neversoft began work on Apocalypse.

In May 1998, Apocalypse was going very well, and Activision signed up Neversoft to develop a prototype for a skateboarding game. This proceeded slowly as they could not spare many people from Apocalypse. The initial prototypes resembled the arcade game Top Skater. Apocalypse wrapped up in October of 1998 and development began in earnest on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (aka THPS) for the PlayStation. At this time Neversoft comprised 15 people: six programmers, five artists, three level designers and Joel, the President.

The Golden Years[edit | edit source]

1999 saw the development of the first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game, the start of a series of wildly successful games that have defined the extreme sports genre ever since. The original game was released on the PlayStation in October 1999, and development immediately began on the sequel.

1999 saw the start of development of the game Spider-Man (2000), also for Activision. Like THPS the technology for this game was also based on the Apocalypse engine, which was in turn based on the Big Guns engine. Neversoft was now developing two major games in parallel, and expanded appropriately, growing into two large teams.

Activision acquired Neversoft in 1999 in a stock swap deal worth around $10 million. The founders and several key employees signed four year employment agreements.

The year 2000 saw the development of THPS2, and also the release of Spider-Man. During 2000 Neversoft began work on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 specifically for the PlayStation 2. As both teams finished their project they were merged into one large team. THPS3 was developed using the RenderWare game engine. Neversoft did not use Renderware again, and developed their own technology for subsequent games.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was released in 2001, followed by Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 in 2002. In 2003 Neversoft reworked the game with a more story-oriented approach in Tony Hawk's Underground, followed by Tony Hawk's Underground 2 in 2004. In 2004 Neversoft again split into two teams as they began work on GUN and Tony Hawk's American Wasteland.

Developed games[edit | edit source]