Reply To: What Led to…?

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In your opinions, what was it that led to Sierra’s downfall? Mismanagement? Lack of funding for it’s projects (by later owners such as Vivendi)? Too much consolidation? Or was it perhaps Sierra’s growth in and of itself that led to the company’s decline. I personally think that Sierra’s growth was a factor in it’s downfall. Sierra made an error when it acquired so many companies. The companies Sierra acquired were not only very different and from very dissimilar backgrounds, but were also were allowed to maintain their corporate identity. Instead of just intergrating them into the main Sierra organization, (IE, buying Impressions, closing it down, and moving it’s employees and copyrights to Oakhurst and Bellevue) the only things these companies shared were funding, distribution, and manufacturing. they didn’t share a common corporate identity. As Sierra acquired more and more companies (In 1995 alone Sierra acquired 8 companies; from 1995-1997 the company acquired 12 in total), Sierra became more of a publisher and competing against over 10 other studios, the quantity of Oakhurst and Bellevue’s products decreased and the two studios were squeezed. With later management teams, development was focused at Sierra’s subsidiaries rather Sierra itself.  Also, I think that another source of Sierra’s decline was it’s later use of and partnerships with third party companies such as Valve and Blizzard. After Vivendi acqured the company, Oakhurst was shut down, and Bellevue was relegated to producing the company’s minor titles. Third party companies, instead of Sierra’s own studios, became responsible for Sierra’s ”development”. Even Sierra’s biggest titles began to be developed only by third party companies rather than Sierra itself. Personally, I don’t consider products made by Valve and other third party companies ”Sierra games”. There’s also a markedly different style in games produced by Sierra’s studios compared with games produced by Oakhurst and Bellevue. That was the object, yes, to create a company which had variety…But even the spirit of those games was different, as if they were made by different companies. 
 Add to this later management who focused not on product development but on maintaining a rigid corporate structure with a focus on the bottom line, a financially dishonest and troubled parent company who squeezed Sierra’s products into deadlines and the decline of the adventure genre, Sierra’s main line of interest and in my opinion, you have Sierra’s downfall.