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U.S. Gold

From Sega Retro

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U.S. Gold
Founded: 1984-04More...[1]
T-series code: T-79
Merged into: Eidos (1996)
Headquarters: Birmingham, United Kingdom

U.S. Gold is a British video game developer and distributor between 1984 and 1996. Initially making a name for itself by importing American Commodore 64 software into Europe, U.S. Gold grew into one of the largest games publishers in the United Kingdom, before being absorbed into Eidos Interactive in 1996.

History

U.S. Gold was a Birmingham-based business started in April 1984 by Geoff and Anne Brown as a sister company to previous venture, CentreSoftMore...[1]. CentreSoft had been established to distribute Atari 8-bit computer products in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, but despite initial expectations, the market had not been a successMore...[1].

While arguably of better quality than their UK counterparts at the time, Atari 400 and 800 games were only being produced on disk, and combined with import duties and the price of the computers themselves, were selling at a far higher price point (around £35) than software for UK micros, most notably the ZX Spectrum with its cassette-based games selling for roughly £5-£6More...[1]. Interest in the Atari 8-bit line was low, but their rival, the Commodore 64 was doing much better.

Geoff Brown began to negotiate with American partners to convert Commodore 64 software to compact cassette with a "mass market" £10 price tag, and thus, U.S. Gold was born. Before long, multiple US manufacturers were on-board with the plan, including Datasoft, Microprose, Strategic Simulations, Access Software and SegaMore...[1]. C64 disks would be converted to cassette, while Ocean Software would be hired to produce Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum versionsMore...[1].

Within a few years, U.S. Gold had become a major publishing force in Europe (eclipsing CentreSoft, which continued to exist as the distribution arm of the combined "CentreGold" grouy), allying with the likes of Capcom and branching into movie-licensed games. In 1989 they created a successful budget line, Kixx, and in 1990 began bringing games to consoles such as the Sega Master System[n 1]. U.S. Gold is credited as the publisher of the cancelled Sonic's Edusoft and the developer of the also canceled Sonic the Hedgehog (Amiga).

At this point, all pretenses of U.S. Gold only selling US-based sofwatre had been dropped. The company was operating in both the US and Europe in both development and publishing roles. While technically licensed by Capcom USA, U.S. Gold found itself publishing European home computer versions of Street Fighter, for example, which is Japanese in origin.

Core Design was purchased by the CentreGold conglomerate in 1994, becoming a development studio for U.S. Gold. Later, Silicon Dreams Studios was formed to produce sports games. However, finances took a hit after a series of licensing misfires, leading the group to be acquired by Eidos Interactive in April 1996. Eidos subsequently sold off the CentreSoft business, retained the U.S. Gold brand (which it dropped some months later) and took control of Core Design, which went on to have phenomenal success with the Tomb Raider series. Silicon Dreams was sold back to Geoff Brown around the same time.

During the mid-90s U.S. Gold had a short-lifed publishing label called Front Street Publishing. Only the Sega 32X version of BC Racers was ever published under this name, though the unreleased 32X versions of Soulstar X, Virtual Golf, Shellshock and Thunderhawk II were also set to use the label.

While now technically owned by Square Enix (which would purchase Eidos in 2009), the U.S. Gold brand has not been seen in a new video game product since 1996.

Softography

Master System

Mega Drive

Mega-CD

Game Gear

Saturn

Amiga

Atari 8-bit family

Atari ST

Amstrad CPC

BBC Micro

Commodore 64

ZX Spectrum

Gallery

Notes

  1. At the time, U.S. Gold was credited as the first third-party publisher to back a Sega consoleMore...[2]. While true for Europe, Salio released two Japanese third-party Master System games in 1988.

References