I received several emails last night asking whether or not I would try to buy back some of the Sierra brand names; Leisure-Suit Larry, Kings Quest, Phantasmagoria, etc.
As I mentioned here, I did think about getting back into the business recently. I sent an email to the Activision CEO saying that I would be willing to put together a small team focused on doing small, but innovative products. Specifically, I was thinking to go one of two directions: massively multiplayer games or iPhone games. Actually, I should restate and say ‘Entertainment’ not ‘games’. I never liked the word ‘game’ because it limits creativity. Their CEO did respond to say that it sounded interesting and invited me down to Los Angeles to visit. I wrote back to try to establish if he was ‘just being polite’ or was genuinely interested in making something happen, and he hasn’t responded yet. I wouldn’t blame him for not responding, in that I’m not really willing to commit the 20 hours a day effort that it takes to build world-class product. I do think I could do something cool and new, but to really be a player in the business, you need to commit your life to it, and I’ve ‘been there, done that.’
This also applies to buying back the old brands. If I wanted back into the business, the smartest path to the top would be to start with the Sierra brand, and trademarks, that are already established. In particular, I like Kings Quest and Leisure-Suit Larry. Kings Quest targets an under-served niche in the market. Roberta’s vision for Kings Quest was to have a ‘Disney-Style’ product, or these days I guess you would say ‘Pixar-style’ product, that is fun for the entire family.
The problem is that I’m not serious about making money, or starting another large company. I can’t say that we have all the money we could want, but we have enough that we can do all the things we want to do. Like it or not, life is of finite length. There’s a time for youth, a time to work, and a time to be retired. We’ve done the first two of these phases and are enjoying the third. It’s someone elses turn.
I do believe that I could manage one small product, and do something that would be fun, and hopefully surprise people. But, the idea of me starting another big software company, or even taking on a huge games product — it just isn’t happening.
Roberta’s chances are even slimmer than mine. She has been working on a book for about three years, and is working full-time on the project. She still has at least a couple years to go, and isn’t taking on any other projects until the book is finished. [Note: She is writing a serious, and thoroughly researched, novel about the Irish Immigration.]
Hopefully the good news in all of this is that someone will buy the Sierra brand who is committed to do something great. It’s like all of our old characters; Larry, Rosella, Roger Wilco and friends, have been sitting on the bench for the last ten years, saying ‘Put me in coach!’ and no one has been listening. Maybe this means they’ll finally get back into the game.