Impressions Games

Moby ID: 102

  • Impressions (from 1989 to 1999)
  • Impressions Software (from 1989 to 1995)

Overview edit · view history

Impressions Games was a UK software development house founded in 1989 by David Lester. Its focus was on strategy and business games, including sports-team management simulations. It also experimented with edutainment (Project USA) and casual software (Casino Deluxe). With a stable of partners and freelancers, including Edward Grabowski and Simon Bradbury, the company grew into a stable, successful studio.

After initial success in the European market, in 1992 Impressions opened a US division in Farmington, Connecticut, which eventually moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. The division first focused on repackaging current UK Impressions releases with minor localization, but within two years grew into a full-fledged development house. In its first years in the US, Impressions would release between five and eight titles in a year, though by 1995 they had slowed down to a roughly two-titles-per-year schedule. During these early years Impressions also partnered with Connecticut-based Omnitrend Software and released two of its titles, Rules of Engagement 2 and Breach 3.

Impressions attempted to carve new ground in strategy games, with a special emphasis placed on: business simulations as in Air Bucks, Detroit, and Powerhouse; empire-builders such as Discovery: In the Steps of Columbus; and the proto-real-time-strategy games of the Micro Miniatures series (including Conquest of Japan and Rorke's Drift). Impressions' biggest successes were in the Lords of the Realm and Caesar series, both of which came from collaboration between Lester and programmer/designer Simon Bradbury.

The early games Impressions produced were uniquely tuned to the European games market, which seemed willing to accept a higher degree of complexity and lower degree of usability than in America. Impressions' first success in the US came when its Air Bucks title was taken off the market in its original UK edition, significantly upgraded with new features and a revised interface, and re-released as Air Bucks v1.2.

Impressions was bought by Sierra On-Line in 1995, who released Caesar II to critical and commercial success. After many years running the company, Lester passed creative leadership of the company to Chris Beatrice, who oversaw most of its remaining titles, most of which were part of the City Building series. Lester went on to form Firefly Studios in 1999 with Simon Bradbury and Eric Ouellette (Lester eventually moved on from Firefly as well, and became a UK magazine publisher).

During the development of Lords of the Realm III, a management shake-up ended with the departure of Beatrice and much of the company's leadership and senior staff, to form a new studio called Tilted Mill Entertainment. Edward Grabowski, who was crucial to the birth of Impressions, went on to do racing management simulations for MicroProse, and later released games to the web through his own company, Edward Grabowski Communications, Ltd.

Vivendi Universal Games closed the studio in April 2004. After the Activision Blizzard merger in 2008, the City Building franchise would remain with the holding company, but Lords of the Realm was sold off to Rebellion Developments.

Credited on 69 Games from 1989 to 2024

Displaying most recent · View all

Pharaoh: A New Era (2023 on Windows)
Lords of the Realm III (2004 on Windows, Macintosh)
Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom (2002 on Windows)
Zeus: Master of Olympus (2000 on Windows)
Pharaoh (1999 on Windows)
Ultimate Soccer Manager 98-99 (1999 on Windows)
Caesar III (1998 on Windows, Macintosh)
Lords of the Realm II + Siege Pack (1998 on Windows, DOS)
Ultimate Soccer Manager 98 (1998 on Windows)
Lords of Magic (1997 on Windows)
Grant - Lee - Sherman: Civil War 2: Generals (1997 on Windows, Windows 3.x)
Lords of the Realm II: Royal Edition (1997 on Linux, DOS, Windows...)
The Rise & Rule of Ancient Empires (1996 on Windows, Windows 3.x)
Casino Deluxe 2 (1996 on Windows 3.x)
Lords of the Realm II (1996 on DOS, Windows, Macintosh)
Robert E. Lee: Civil War General (1996 on Windows, Windows 3.x)
Space Bucks (1996 on Windows 3.x)
Ultimate Soccer Manager 2 (1996 on DOS)
Breach 3 (1995 on DOS)
Brickbuster (1995 on Windows 3.x)

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History +

April 2004

Vivendi Universal closes the Impressions Games studio. Many members moved on to form Tilted Mill Entertainment


Acquired by Sierra.


United States division opened in Farmington, Connecticut


Company founded.

Trivia +

US address, 1992:

Impressions Software

7 Melrose Drive

Farmington, Connecticut 06032

Last known address:

222 Third St. - Suite 4100
Cambridge, MA 02142

UK address, 1989:


6 Dykewood Close




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