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Neversoft Entertainment, Inc.

Overview

Neversoft Entertainment Inc. was founded in July 1994 by gaming veterans Joel Jewett, Mick West and Chris Ward, and was based in Los Angeles, California. The three founders were previously with Malibu Interactive until they felt the company would go under, which happened as it closed down the same year. They had already left and established their own studio.

The company struggled the first three years, spending too much times on commissioned games that were later cancelled, despite their strict work regime. During those years the studio only released Skeleton Warriors (1996). By Christmas 1997, they could only pay half a paycheck, after that it was a quarter.

Before going under the company finally got a big break when Activision hired them in January 1998 to develop a game using the voice of Bruce Willis. That project became Apocalypse and it was released in November 1998. Impressed with the progress, Activision asked Neversoft in May 1998 to start work on a skateboarding game. They managed to get the endorsement of Tony Hawk and the skateboarding project became Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. At the same time, in October 1999, Activision acquired the company and all members of the studio's management team signed long-term employment contracts.

The game became a smashing hit and would become the company's most important franchise under the name Tony Hawk skateboarding series. It was followed by many sequels that managed to rack up $1 billion in sales over the years.

Over the years the studio also worked on other titles such as the PlayStation port of MDK (1998), Spider-Man (2000) and the western shooter GUN (2005). In 2006 Activision acquired RedOctane and its Guitar Hero franchise, but the development studio Harmonix Music Systems behind the series was acquired by MTV, leaving Activision with no development team for the game. Neversoft took over development on Guitar Hero starting with Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (2007), followed by Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (2008) and Guitar Hero: World Tour.

The studio's last skateboarding title was Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (2007), which managed to innovate less than the skate series by Electronic Arts. In January 2009 co-founder Joel Jewett said in an interview the franchise was handed to a different development studio, and that Neversoft would focus on new titles in the Guitar Hero series.

In May 2014 it was announced Neversoft and Infinity Ward would merge into a single Infinity Ward studio headed by Dave Stohl, retiring the Neversoft name. Neversoft studio head Joel Jewett and studio director Scott Pease retired from games after the transition. The studio was finally disbanded on 11th July 2014.

Trivia

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