Did you ever regret selling Sierra?

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    • #24764 Reply

      Hi, first of all, great site. I have to say reason I even bought my first computer was to play police quest.. I loved all the Sierra adventure games, and I’m pretty devastated how the industry shuns adventure games now.
      Both Sierra and Lucas arts who were great at making adventure games instead makes games that will be forgotten in 5 years. I’m just wondering how you feel seeing the ‘new’ sierra totally scrapping all these wonderful titles.. and instead producing pretty (in my opinion) bad games.
      Did you ever regret selling the company after seeing this? or maybe atleast not getting the rights for some of the ‘quest’ games? anyway.
      Merry christmas and a happy new year
      /forever thankful Michael

    • #24765 Reply

      (re: Did you ever regret selling Sierra?)

      Ciao Ken.
      You probabily read my comment on the previous topic (on criticism on your selling Sierra) and my line of thought. One thing I never saw though is a brief and sincere reply if you ever regret selling…
      All my best,

    • #24766 Reply

      (re: Did you ever regret selling Sierra?) One thing I never saw though is a brief and sincere reply if you ever regret selling.


      Honestly .. this is not an easy question. Because of what happened, there is no doubt that if I had it to do over again, I would not have sold. That said, there is no way I could have known how things would turn out.

      I wanted to sell.

      Running Sierra was far more intense than you could ever imagine. The entertainment business collects people with large egos, and immense talent. Sierra’s staff was amazing, but also tough to manage. I was being pulled 50 different directions. Wall Street wanted consistently growing quarterly revenues and profits. My staff wanted to refine and improve products forever. Our competitors also made my life tough – in some categories, it was a “keeping up with the Jones'” market – – meaning that our product would only succeed if it was the best in the category. For instance, I would budget $1 million for a flight simulator, and promise everyone a June release date — and, then a competitor would launch a flight sim that was better — at which point I had to raise the budget on my product, and announce a new ship date — and, on and on. There were great days at Sierra, but few easy ones.

      After nearly 20 years of running Sierra, I was ready for retirement. My primary focus though, throughout my time at Sierra, and a line everyone heard from me often was “I want to build a company that my grandkids can enjoy.” I was always focused on the future. At Sierra we tried to build brands, and series, and technologies, that would survive long past when I was gone.

      During the negotiations to acquire Sierra, I outlined to the purchasers how I thought the transition should be handled. They shared with me their vision for how Sierra would be integrated into the larger organization — which was unacceptable. I declined the deal, because I dd not want Sierra to fail. The next day, the acquirers gave in, and gave me the power I was demanding, post-deal, to ensure that Sierra could make the transition.

      Unfortunately, the power I thought I would have to ensure that Sierra made the transition from being a “Ken and Roberta-centric” company to a division of a large corporation, never materialized. It was clear post acquisition, that I would not be able to have much influence over Sierra’s direction. Had I known this, the deal would not have been done. I wanted to retire, but not to the extent that I would do something that wasn’t in the best interests of Sierra’s customers, employees and shareholders.

      -Ken W

    • #24767 Reply

      (re: re: re: Did you ever regret selling Sierra?)

      I guess you suffered the same problem with Sierra that Richard Garriott had with Origin.

      I have always seen you and Roberta, along with Richard Garriott, as video game visionaries. What you have created basically, was nothing less than the adventure game industry. Same for ‘Lord British’ and role-playing games, at least the way I see it. King’s Quest and Ultima games, as well as the spirit of earlier Sierra and Origin companies (up to the early 90’s), represented to me what was best about the video game industry: a bubbling environment of creators – people who had a vision of entertainment that went beyond the simple need to sell games, people who kept on pushing the boundaries of technology and interactivity.

      Sadly though, in your case as in Garriott’s case, your visions were lost because of other people’s corporate goals and narrower ideas. It’s sad. But I don’t hold you people responsible for those disasters; as I know, from years of reading InterAction and in-box catalogues and stuff, among other things, that you always had the best of intentions for Sierra.

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