Would you Ken?

Viewing 14 reply threads
  • Author
    • #25912 Reply


      If you Had the Chance Would you Return to sierra or Buy Sierra Back? Because All the Games they make now are quite good and LSL is not the same, Can’t you get sierra back, It can last at least 10 more years…

    • #25913 Reply


      If you Had the Chance Would you Return to sierra or Buy Sierra Back? Can’t you get sierra back, It can last at least 10 more years…

    • #25914 Reply

      I just had the chance to buy Sierra back, and passed.

      There are many reasons.

      1) I am busy boating, and that is taking all of my time (see http://www.kensblog.com)
      2) It takes a LOT of money to build a game these days, and I don’t have that kind of money, and don’t really want to get into fund-raising mode. This is the wrong time to try to raise money.
      3) I’m “over the hill.” Great games are built by people who are in touch with the target audience. I’m 55 now! I’m not sure I relate to the gaming demographic anymore.
      4) I have http://www.talkspot.com .. a website making company (this site is built on a 5 year old version that has never been updated, so don’t think this is representative). Talkspot is doing VERY well and I’m overloaded working on it.
      5) Roberta is busy on a book about the irish immigration. She isn’t thinking about anything except her book.

      I do plan to add games to talkspot.com when I get some time (they would be widgets that people building sites can add to their sites). Talkspot has a huge amount of traffic across our sites. A widget would immediately have critical mass, and I have some cool ideas for multiplayer games. I’m thinking on a two-year timeframe, not tomorrow.

      -Ken W

    • #25915 Reply

      Please Change Your Mind…


      1.) Sierra is Great
      2.) Adventuregames ned to return
      3.) please Get It back
      4.) Larry…
      5.) TSN would be better now


    • #25916 Reply

      What’s the name worth these days? 

      I must say it’s a bit disappointing that you two, who seemed so passionate about what you were doing for so long, would turn your backs on those of us who were equally as passionate about playing the games you created. I pursued a career in the video game industry largely because of the passion you and Roberta poured into the artform. I can understand that you would need a break after the corporate atrocities that occurred in the mid-ninties, but I think it’s horribly disappointing that you wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to redeem those missteps that lead to such pain for both your employees and fans.

    • #25917 Reply

      You know, I respect your decision although it makes me sad.  You and Roberta have done your part and it’s very sad that the 2nd generation of sierra owners were not able to continue making the company successful.  I would LOVE it if you guys bought it back, but I understand your decision fully.  Perhaps something good will come from someone else buying it or maybe something can be facilitated. Regardless you and Roberta have earned your retirement.  Boat on, my friend… boat on!


    • #25918 Reply

      Thanks for sharing with us, Ken.  Since the deal with Activision, there hasn’t been much mention of what will happen to the Sierra brand.

      I appreciate your patience and openness with your legions of fans.  I’m sure you’ve answered the “will you come back?” question hundreds of times now.  We love Sierra so much we can’t help but hold a tiny place in our heart for the “what if?”

      However, I understand if it doesn’t make business sense to buy back your brand and try to restart a company.  Sierra was born and raised at a very special time by a very special group of people.  Although Sierra would be at the top of their game today if you were still in charge, you can’t fire the company back up and expect the same magic to just fall into place now.  

      That said, the loyalty and devotion of Sierra’s fans is something that can never be taken away.  I believe that under the right leadership, Sierra could make a very exciting come back.  The computer game market today is a joke, it is ready to be revitalized. 

    • #25919 Reply

      If Ken started making computer games again I would lose my job, my wife would leave me and my dogs would starve to death.

      Sail on, big man.  Sail on.

    • #25920 Reply

      Hi Ken,

      I know I’m a little late to the thread, but I’d like to echo the sentiments of the other poster who thanked you for being so forthright and patient with the fans. Heaven knows you don’t *have* to do this, or answer the same questions over and over, but I’m so glad that you choose to do it. Sierra was this great, legendary organization for so long; it’s good to be able to fill in the historical blanks and know what really happened, even if we don’t always like the answers.

      I’d just gotten used to Sierra being dead and gone, so it’s kind of heartbreaking to think that you had the chance to get your hands on it again but things didn’t work out. That would have a certain poetic drama to it – a revered institution clutched from the jaws of certain death. But as so many others have said, I certainly understand your reasons. There’s no reason to come off the boat and throw yourself back into that world of headaches again. But although you’re right that game publishing has changed a lot and is very expensive now, I think you don’t give yourself enough credit by saying you’re too old to be relevant. Good taste doesn’t go away, and although game engines and mechanics have changed a lot since your Sierra days, the core elements of good storytelling are the same now as they’ve ever been.

      Besides, if I’m not mistaken, after Sierra really took off, you weren’t actually writing and designing the games yourself – you were handling back-of-house and technical issues. There’s nothing to say you couldn’t still take an executive producer role, guiding the overall product while letting individual development teams do the heavy lifting. You can always hire young and hungry developers, and guide them with the knowledge you’ve gained over the years.

      Nor would a new Sierra have to be the biggest publisher in the business – look at all the development houses that do perfectly respectable business by producing only small adventure games. A new Sierra with reasonable investment could do the same thing but much better, and would have a wealth of ready-to-go intellectual properties to use in games. I see all these run-of-the-mill adventure games on the shelf and they all kind of look the same, but if I saw a Space Quest or Laura Bow mystery it would really grab my eye. Sierra also always had a variety of products that embraced a far wider range of themes that are used today; all those low-budget adventures tread the same water over and over again. There’s nothing really diverse like Gold Rush!, Code Name: Iceman or the like.

      I guess that the main reason I hate to see Sierra slip through your fingers is that no one is going to wind up with these IPs that understands their value. While people can debate whether the original games are still relevant in this flashy, 3-D world (I still love them, although I’m biased), the characters – Graham, Larry, Roger W., Gabriel Knight, etc. – are still as fascinating as they ever were. Games these days – even fun and entertaining ones – have a shortage of really interesting personalities. Sierra had this in spades, and it’s something that I think could still be valuable.

      Of course, although this has turned into a sermon/sales pitch, I know your mind is made up and I can certainly understand why. I just didn’t want you to walk away while giving yourself and your old team too little credit – if you had decided to go that route, I do think you could have made it work. I also think that these aren’t dusty irrelevant properties, but are still perfectly viable and could be much-loved again today.

      Anyway, it’s not that I’m saying you *should* have done it – just that I think it *could* have been a success if you had wanted to pursue it.

      Thanks as always for this forum and site,


    • #25921 Reply

      Hey Ken,

      I was just wondering whether you knew who owns Sierra now.  I know Vivendi merged with Activision, but it seems like this new mega-publisher has been letting many of its studios go (e.g. Massive Entertainment was sold to Ubisoft).

      I would imagine that most of the people using these forums would like to know who ended up with classic Sierra IP after the merger (i.e. King’s Quest, Gabriel Knight, Quest for Glory, ect.).  Do you have any idea?  Also, I know the new Leisure Suit Larry was picked up by Codemasters… does this mean Codemasters now owns the entire LSL property?

      It would be interesting to see who picked up Sierra’s other popular franchises…. if it was by a company interested in properly reviving our favorite Sierra series, we fans may actually have something to look forward to.

    • #25922 Reply


      Very well said!  The current state of the computer gaming industry can be summed up with your comment that ‘the core elements of good storytelling are the same now as they’ve ever been’.  That is exactly why the cookie cutter clone titles sit on the shelves as fewer and fewer people even bother to see what’s available. 

      Fortunately for Jane Jensen there is a company that seems to “get it”.  I can’t even express how excited I am for Gray Matter to hit the shelves.  She’s not using multiplayer, online play, or any other unnecessary “features” to sell her game.  Just a darn good story.  In a sense it will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen and yet for any Sierra fans, it will like hopping on a bike again after 10 years.

      You’re right that no company appreciates the value of Sierra’s brand, heritage, characters, and stories.  It seems like such a simple concept.  If Activision isn’t going to take advantage of this immense opportunity then sell it to someone who will.  All the buyer has to do is grant licenses for their use.  Then Jane can make her GK4.  Then the fans can have their LSL8 or their Space Quest 7. 

      Ken might look around and think he’s been ‘gone’ for so long he’s no longer relevant.  But I admire Sierra for accomplishing a simple yet difficult goal.  They instilled a solid brand loyalty in a huge fan base that is, for many of us, as strong today as it was 10 years ago. 

      Look at the Sierra remake projects from AGD Interactive.  Look at Quest Studios.  Look how much used games go for on eBay.  Look at the petition sites for new Sierra games.  Look at how many people have worked together to get an old Sierra game working on Windows XP or Vista.  Ask how many people still play old Sierra games because today’s offerings just don’t cut it. 

      Then you tell me if Ken Williams is still relevant today.

    • #25923 Reply

      I still play a few of the Sierra games that I have not yet ever had the chance to fiddle with.
      After playing games of the new day its hard to even handle the old EGA graphics but I enjoy it anyway.
      I have the dream system I wanted now when I was 14 with the Roland MT-32 to hear the sounds and play the games exactly like I wanted to back then.
      I am like a 68 year old man that bought a old car to just “remember” – well im actually 33 🙂

    • #25924 Reply

      Ahh what great nostalgia! I have very fond memories growing up with these games. For me it was Kings Quest V that started it all for me, I’d just turned 13 when it came out and 256 colors was a big deal, then we heard the game with a Sound Blaster! woo hoo sound baby (not being sarcastic, I thought it was the coolest thing ever seriously). No game before or after ever captivated me in the same way, the whole family would get together a few hours a day to try and solve the puzzles, I’d say (IMO) that was very close to the peak of quality from Sierra (KQ6 was excellent as well). I never really cared for the SCI 32 engine used later on in KQ7, just didn’t have the same feel went too far off into another direction, wasn’t KQ to me anymore and the animated style just didn’t work for me. Although I think the SCI 32 cell animation did work with LSL7, which to me was a good fit with the style/feel of the series.

      I completely respect Ken’s decisions and even have more respect for the fact that he actually disclosed the fact he was offered a chance to buy the company back (he could have easily just not said anything, but for respect of his fans perhaps he doesn’t want to give us false hope). All good things do come to an end sometimes, we always want to hold on to the good things in the past and perhaps change what we might think were previous mistakes. We all know things got real ugly in the years following the original sale of the company to CUC. I think things started back when they went public (yes it was good for the growth of the business, but the core of the company started to unravel). It was the end of a great time in the gaming times have changed and we have to remember the good times.

      Capitalism is what happened! Things change technology changes, the markets change. I don’t believe Sierra could ever come back to the size it was before, perhaps a much smaller niche gaming company/project that would start off with one small project and then stay small.

      The price was probably not right for this (sale of Sierra to back to Ken) and as Ken says the timing is not right for him or the economy. You have to take a step back and think Ken is a human being just like the rest of us and more than entitled to enjoy his life and family as he sees fit. I’d like to see anyone take themselves out of retirement and risk their life savings on a 2nd chance, there are more thing to life than a 2nd go at it . Another thing we might overlook is how much time and effort it takes to run a successful business, it took years for the Ken and Roberta to put that workforce together and build that goodwill.

      Don’t get me wrong I would absolutely love it if they made some form of a comeback. My pitch on a comeback would be to stick with what works and the simple beauty of the original games, forget all the latest and the greatest software rendering technology (I hated KQ Mask of Eternity even thought it seems to have been a commercial success) . Come to a licensing agreement with no upfront fees (lowering initial capital cost) to use one of the original IPs (i.e., Kings Quest). Then work your magic to raise some capital and put together a team that can do it as a side project. Now the target market is very niche, id say its mostly men now ages 30-50 who enjoyed the original games. What do they/we like the originals, text is ok, 2d is fantastic, pixilated even better, old school, the real magic is the story and the puzzles. You can leverage today’s technology to come out with fantastic retro tittles that I think could be economically reasonable to make (bad analogy, but think how South Park cartoon creators use software engines similar to those used in the making of Jurassic Park to make cut and paste looking animation – what used to take them days before to animate now only takes hours). I know I love the old school, I recently started playing KQ5 again and tried out the Roland Midi sound and the CD version and actually didn’t like it, reverted to the good old original and loved it. Even in these tough economic times I would dish out the cash to buy good old Sierra magic.
      Basically the simple classic ingredients model, no fluff. Simple and cheap, not looking to make it rich just pay for itself and maybe a little extra without killing yourself putting it together.

      I wonder if Ken would give me an informed opinion if a project like this would/could ever happen in today’s world you being expert (me the BS speculator).

    • #25925 Reply

      A bit late on seeing this post, so… sorry for resurrecting an old one. I found it very interesting that Ken had the opportunity to buy Sierra back. The fact that he passed on that opportunity is understandable, and like many others, I respect that decision.

      What’s particularly sad about the situation though is that all of the great IPs are now just sitting in a dungeon somewhere in the Activision/Blizzard empire (I think they own Vivendi now, don’t they?). It would have been amazing beyond belief if at least the IPs could have been liberated. I’d love to see those end up in the hands of Telltale, for example.


    • #25926 Reply

      Agreed… it seems unfortunate to have them locked away. I know the last thing Ken wants to wind up doing is running a game company, but it would be great to have the rights so they could be licensed out to quality developers. And heavens knows they’d make money… these days, you don’t have to worry about getting space on store shelves – you can go right to the consumer.

Viewing 14 reply threads
Reply To: Would you Ken?
Your information: