OUR HISTORY

In the past forty years of Massachusetts game development, commercial video game studios have released over 200 titles. We've collected many of them into a timeline for your nostalgic pleasure.

1972

SPACEWAR!

Spacewar! was, and remains, one of the earliest and most influential video games of all time. Built on MIT's PDP-1, it quickly captured the imagination of other early computer experts and spread to other universities. Boston is proud to call it part of our communal history.

  • Spacewar! (Steve Russell, Martin Graetz, and Wayne Wiitanen)

1980

THE BEGINNING

It all started here. 1980 saw the launch of Infocom and their first game, Zork I: The Great Underground Empire. For the next eight years the Massachusetts game scene would be dominated by Infocom titles and successes.

  • Zork I: The Great Underground Empire

1981

ZORK II ARRIVES

Infocom continues releasing their Zork epic, bringing out the second installment in the series.

  • Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz

1982

GAMES HEAT UP

As the Colecovision and Vectrex make their debut, Infocom continues their pace of releasing new games. By 1982, Zork is a powerhouse franchise, able to drive Infocom's success for years to come.

  • Zork III: The Dungeon Master

  • Deadline

  • Starcross

1983

THE FAMICOM

As the Famicom debuts in Japan, Infocom continues releasing narrative game hits. Graphical games were only starting to be noticed, and would take some years before Infocom released their first ones.

  • Enchanter

  • Planetfall

  • Suspended: A Cryogenic Nightmare

  • The Witness

  • Infidel

1984

CAMBRIDGE CAMELOT

The Infocom Era is in full effect as game after game is released by the studio. Nicknamed "Cambridge Camelot" by the media, even IP like The Hitchhiker's Guide makes it into Boston games.

  • Sorcerer

  • Seastalker

  • Cutthroats

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

  • Suspect

1985

THE NES ARRIVES

Even as the NES lands on American shores, Infocom continues its string of game releases year after year. Computer games remain the mainstay for Infocom despite the newly-resurgent console industry.

  • Spellbreaker

  • A Mind Forever Voyaging

  • Wishbringer: The Magick Stone of Dreams

  • Fooblitzky

1986

25 AND COUNTING

1986 marked the release of almost 25 games by Infocom, cementing them as an early titan of game development. They remain the most prolific Boston game developer of the past 40 years.

  • Ballyhoo

  • Hollywood Hijinx

  • Leather Goddesses of Phobos

  • Moonmist

  • Trinity

1987

THE PEAK

1987 marks the peak of Infocom game development, seeing an astonishing seven games come out from the studio. No company will come close to that record in the next thirty years.

  • Beyond Zork: The Coconut of Quendor

  • Stationfall

  • Border Zone

  • Bureaucracy

  • The Lurking Horror

  • Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It

  • Plundered Hearts

1988

DAWN OF A NEW BREED

1988 saw the start of new companies and new games in Massachusetts, paving the way for a new renaissance. Studios like Papyrus Design Group and Impressions Games would make their mark throughout the 1990s.

  • Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz

  • Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels

  • Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth

  • Mines of Titan

1989

Papayrus impressions

1989 saw the launch of games from two new Mass. studios: Papyrus Design Group and Impressions Games. Both would go on to become staples of the 1990s Boston game scene.

  • Kenny Dalglish Soccer Match (Impressions Games)

  • Indianapolis 500: The Simulation (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur (Infocom)

  • James Clavell's Shogun (Infocom)

  • Journey (Infocom)

1990

A QUIET YEAR

1990 marks the only year since 1980 that no games were released by Mass. studios.

  • No games released

1991

GAMES BRANCH OUT

As new studios begin to branch out, new game types begin to come out of Mass. studios. In development are Impressions' first city builder titles, which would make their games household names in the early 1990s. 

  • Charge of the Light Brigade (Impressions Games)

  • J.R.R. Tolkien's Riders of Rohan (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

1992

Start of an era

1992 saw the first entry in the enduring city builder Caesar by Impressions Games. Spawning multiple sequels and expansions, Caesar helped propel Impressions Games to the national stage.

  • Air Bucks (Impressions Games)

  • Caesar (Impressions Games)

  • Conquest of Japan (Impressions Games)

  • Discovery: In the Steps of Columbus (Impressions Games)

  • Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2: Gas Pump Girls Meet the Pulsating Inconvenience from Planet X! (Infocom)

  • Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (Looking Glass Studios)

  • John Madden Football '93 (Looking Glass Studios)

1993

Racing fidelity

1993 saw the start of another enduring franchise with Papyrus' IndyCar Racing. An early licensed game, it strove to reproduce the feeling of an IndyCar race and led to a long list of successful racing titles for the studio.

  • Air Force Commander WWII (Impressions Games)

  • Global Domination (Impressions Games)

  • The Blue & The Gray (Impressions Games)

  • When Two Worlds War (Impressions Games)

  • IndyCar Racing (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Nomad (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Return to Zork (Infocom)

  • Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds (Looking Glass Studios)

1994

A banner year

1994 saw some of Boston's most famous titles begin their reign, with Lords of the Realm, System Shock, and NASCAR Racing all releasing that year. These titles would go on to collectively sell millions of copies.

  • Detroit (Impressions Games)

  • Front Lines (Impressions Games)

  • Lords of the Realm (Impressions Games)

  • NASCAR Racing (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Links: The Challenge of Golf (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse (Cyberlore)

  • System Shock (Looking Glass Studios)

1995

ImpRessions Games

Impressions Games put out over 30 titles during its history, not including expansion packs for their hugely successful Caesar titles. 1995 would see them purchased by Sierra Entertainment, and continue their strong release schedule.

  • Caesar II (Impressions Games)

  • Casino De Luxe (Impressions Games)

  • High Seas Trader (Impressions Games)

  • PowerHouse (Impressions Games)

  • Ultimate Soccer Manager (Impressions Games)

  • Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall (Cyberlore)

  • Flight Unlimited (Looking Glass Studios)

1996

Papyrus Design Group

Papyrus was a prolific and successful studio that focused on licensed racing and simulation games for the PC and Console market. Their NASCAR titles spawned a number of crossovers and sequels as racing grew in popularity throughout the 90s.

  • Lords of the Realm II (Impressions Games)

  • Robert E. Lee: Civil War General (Impressions Games)

  • Space Bucks (Impressions Games)

  • The Rise & Rule of Ancient Empires (Impressions Games)

  • Ultimate Soccer Manager 2 (Impressions Games)

  • IndyCar Racing II (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • NASCAR Racing 2 (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri (Looking Glass Studios)

1997

infocom and zork

Although Infocom had been shut down by Activision in 1989, Zork titles continued to be released. 1997's Zork: Grand Inquisitor would be the last Zork graphic adventure title to be released, though re-releases continued into the 2000s.

  • Grant, Lee, Sherman: Civil War Generals 2 (Impressions Games)

  • Lords of Magic (Impressions Games)

  • CART Racing (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Zork: Grand Inquisitor (Infocom)

  • British Open Championship Golf (Looking Glass Studios)

  • Flight Unlimited II (Looking Glass Studios)

1998

The Birth of Thief

When Looking Glass Studios released Thief: The Dark Project in 1998, it quickly became one of the most acclaimed games of the year, and their most commercially successful one. Its spin on stealth combat influenced games for years after, and saw a number of remakes and spiritual successors.

  • Caesar III (Impressions Games)

  • Ultimate Soccer Manager 98 (Impressions Games)

  • Grand Prix Legends (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Deadlock II: Shrine Wars (Cyberlore)

  • Thief: The Dark Project (Looking Glass Studios)

1999

HEED THE CALL

1999 saw a number of high profile releases, including System Shock 2, but it would be Asheron's Call that heralded Turbine's entry into game development as well as the rise of MMOs. Running for over 17 years, it foreshadowed the rise of online games over the next two decades.

  • Asheron's Call (Turbine)

  • System Shock 2 (Irrational Games / Looking Glass)

  • Pharaoh (Impressions Games)

  • NASCAR Racing: 1999 Edition (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • NASCAR Legends (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • NASCAR Racing 3 (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Flight Unlimited III (Looking Glass Studios)

  • MarbleZone (Dejobaan Games)

2000

The New MilleNnium

2000 set the stage for a number of new entries in the coming years: Harmonix got ready to release their first title, Irrational Games capitalized on the success of System Shock 2, and Turbine continued their content updates for Asheron's Call

  • Zeus: Master of Olympus (Impressions Games)

  • Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim (Cyberlore)

  • Thief II: The Metal Age (Looking Glass Studios)

  • BlockHopper (Dejobaan Games)

2001

NEW STUDIOS RISE

2001 brought inaugural entries from Harmonix, Blue Fang, Mad Doc and Stainless Steel. Nearly all were critical and/or commercial successes, firmly placing Boston as a game development hub for the new millennium.

  • Frequency (Harmonix)

  • Zoo Tycoon (Blue Fang Games)

  • NASCAR Racing 4 (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Empire Earth (Stainless Steel Studios)

  • Star Trek: Armada II (Mad Doc Software)

  • QuadBlast (Dejobaan Games)

  • MixMatch (Dejobaan Games)

  • BrainForge (Dejobaan Games)

  • TapDown (Dejobaan Games)

2002

DEJOBAAN STUDIOS

Before Dejobaan Games made major indie titles like Elegy for a Dead World , they were known for building games on an unusual platform: The PalmOS. Games like BlockHopper and DejobaanBebop stand out as some of the few games released for that platform.

  • Freedom Force (Irrational Games)

  • Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom (Impressions Games)

  • NASCAR Racing 2002 Season (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Jane's Attack Squadron (Looking Glass Studios / Mad Doc)

  • DejobaanBebop (Dejobaan Games)

2003

HARMONIX GAMES

Though tens of millions of gamers would be introduced to the Harmonix name through Guitar Hero and Rock Band, it was their early games Frequency and Amplitude that set the stage for their music-centered career. Built on music as a core concept, they hinted at the massive impact the studio would soon create,

  • Asheron's Call 2 (Turbine)

  • Amplitude (Harmonix)

  • Karaoke Revolution (Harmonix)

  • NASCAR Racing 2003 Season (Papyrus Design Group, Inc.)

  • Empires: Dawn of the Modern World (Stainless Steel Studios)

  • Risk: Global Domination (Cyberlore)

2004

BLUE FANG GAMES

Founded by Adam Levesque and John Wheeler, Blue Fang was best known for its Zoo Tycoon series of games. Following the success of Zoo Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon 2, the company went on to publish a number of expansions, add-ons, and improvements to the series throughout the 2000s.

  • Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile (Tilted Mill Entertainment)

  • Lords of the Realm III (Impressions Games)

  • Karaoke Revolution Vol. 2 (Harmonix)

  • Karaoke Revolution Vol. 3 (Harmonix)

  • EyeToy: AntiGrav (Harmonix)

  • Zoo Tycoon 2 (Blue Fang Games)

  • Playboy: The Mansion (Cyberlore)

  • BrainBop (Dejobaan Games)

2005

ENTER THE GUITAR

With over 1.5 million copies sold in its debut year, Guitar Hero ushered in the new era of music games. Selling the dream of playing songs for packed stadiums, for a time it seemed like most houses in America had a plastic guitar by the TV.

  • Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich (Irrational Games)

  • SWAT 4 (Irrational Games)

  • Karaoke Revolution Party (Harmonix)

  • Guitar Hero (Harmonix)

  • Empire Earth II (Mad Doc Software)

  • Inago Rage (Dejobaan Games)

  • Epidemic Groove (Dejobaan Games)

  • TapDown Two (Dejobaan Games)

2006

CLASH OF TITANS

Developed by Iron Lore Entertainment, Titan Quest was their first foray into game development. Alongside it were a number of other high-profile Boston releases like Caesar IV (the final entry in the Caesar series), Guitar Hero II, and Dungeons and Dragons Online.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (Turbine)

  • Caesar IV (Tilted Mill Entertainment)

  • CMT Presents: Karaoke Revolution Country (Harmonix)

  • Guitar Hero II (Harmonix)

  • Titan Quest (Iron Lore Entertainment)

  • Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War (Stainless Steel Studios / Midway)

  • Star Trek: Legacy (Mad Doc Software)

  • Mo-Pets (Floodgate Entertainment)

2007

Rock the world

2007 saw some of the highest profile games of the 2000s, with both Bioshock and The Lord of the Rings Online coming out from Boston studios. But it would be Harmonix's Rock Band that dominated an entire genre and redefined music games, just two years after Harmonix made their iconic Guitar Hero.

  • Lord of the Rings Online (Turbine)

  • Bioshock (Irrational Games)

  • SimCity Societies (Tilted Mill Entertainment)

  • Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (Harmonix)

  • Phase (Harmonix)

  • Rock Band (Harmonix)

  • Empire Earth III (Mad Doc Software)

  • Klectit (Dejobaan Games)

2008

the birth of mobile

An unexpected hit came out of Boston's Subatomic Studios, which created one of the first mobile game breakouts with Fieldrunners. Dominating the app store in 2008, it would continue to drive success for the studio for many years after.

  • Hinterland (Tilted Mill Entertainment)

  • Mosby's Confederacy (Tilted Mill Entertainment)

  • Rock Band 2 (Harmonix)

  • Fieldrunners (Subatomic Studios)

  • iRacing (FIRST, LLC)

  • Bully: Scholarship Edition (Mad Doc Software)

  • Loudcrowd (Conduit Labs)

  • The Wonderful End of the World (Dejobaan Games)

2009

the musical juggernaut

As the music game craze continued, Rock Band was ported to a number of different genres like Lego games, mobile, and even a Beatles-specific version. And in parallel, a strong focus on indie games was foreshadowed by Dejobaan's AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! — A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, an early indie breakout from the Boston community.

  • Nile Online (Tilted Mill Entertainment)

  • Rock Band Unplugged (Harmonix)

  • The Beatles: Rock Band (Harmonix)

  • Lego Rock Band (Harmonix)

  • Rock Band Mobile (Harmonix)

  • World of Zoo (Blue Fang Games)

  • Lion Pride (Blue Fang Games)

  • Super Dance (Conduit Labs)

  • AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! — A Reckless Disregard for Gravity (Dejobaan Games)

2010

dance all day

Harmonix continued leading the charge in 2010, releasing their successful Dance Central series across consoles. Meanwhile, Turbine games' strong showing in the free to play market led to it being acquired by Warner Bros., later re-branding itself to WB games Boston.

  • Green Day: Rock Band (Harmonix)

  • Rock Band 3 (Harmonix)

  • Dance Central (Harmonix)

  • Zoo Kingdom (Blue Fang Games)

  • Music Pets (Conduit Labs)

2011

zynga's foray

2011 saw  Zynga Boston's only released game, Indiana Jones Adventure World . Formed after Zynga purchased Conduit Labs, many developers would go on to form Proletariat Games after Zynga shut the studio down in 2012.

  • Dance Central 2 (Harmonix)

  • VidRhythm (Harmonix)

  • Tinkerbox (Subatomic Studios)

  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Blue Fang Games)

  • The Oregon Trail (Blue Fang Games)

  • Indiana Jones Adventure World (Zynga Boston)

  • 1... 2... 3... KICK IT! (Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby) (Dejobaan Games)

2012

MANY ROBOTS, SHOT

Demiurge Studios had been around for much longer than their first original title, Shoot Many Robots, would suggest. Founded on game ports, expansions, and contract work, they would go on to be a strong mobile game developer with Marvel Puzzle Quest.

  • Rock Band Blitz (Harmonix)

  • Dance Central 3 (Harmonix)

  • Fieldrunners 2 (Subatomic Studios)

  • Shoot Many Robots (Demiurge Studios)

  • Slam Bolt Scrappers (Fire Hose Games)

2013

To infinity

Bioshock Infinite, released after seven years of development, would prove to be the final title released by Irrational Games. Less than a year later, Ken Levine announced that the studio would be dramatically reduced to focus on narrative games under the label Ghost Story Games.

  • Bioshock Infinite (Irrational Games)

  • Game of Thrones Ascent (Disruptor Beam)

  • Marvel Puzzle Quest (Demiurge Studios)

  • Go Home Dinosaurs (Fire Hose Games)

  • Monster Loves You! (Dejobaan Games)

2014

dance all day

2014 saw a number of smaller releases by Harmonix, along with several entries from indie studios. Several studios, however, were now focusing on games as a service - Disruptor Beam, Turbine, Demiurge, and others continually created updates for their successful titles.

  • Record Run (Harmonix)

  • Dance Central Spotlight (Harmonix)

  • A City Sleeps (Harmonix)

  • Fantasia: Music Evolved (Harmonix)

  • Girls Like Robots (Popcannibal)

  • Drunken Robot Pornography (Dejobaan Games)

  • Elegy for a Dead World (Dejobaan Games)

2015

infinite crisis

Turbine's final release before it officially became WB Games Boston, Infinite Crisis would prove to be a disaster for the studio, shutting down after only three months post-launch. On the other side of town, Proletariat's World Zombination set the stage for their very successful 2014.

  • Infinite Crisis (Turbine)

  • Rock Band 4 (Harmonix)

  • Beat Sports (Harmonix)

  • BeatNiks (Harmonix)

  • World Zombination (Proletariat)

  • Puzzle & Glory (Demiurge Studios)

  • Mind the Arrow (Petricore)

  • Gelato Flicker (Petricore)

  • Shopping Spree (Petricore)

  • Emily Is Away (Kyle Seeley)

2016

The Spice of life

2016 saw a wide variety of game releases, ranging from the Twitch-friendly Streamline to the mobile hit Star Trek Timelines to the indie darling Catlateral Damage. 2016 marked no fewer than eight Boston-based studios releasing all-new titles.

  • Batman: Arkham Underworld (WB Games Boston)

  • Rock Band Rivals (Harmonix)

  • Harmonix Music VR (Harmonix)

  • Streamline (Proletariat)

  • Star Trek Timelines (Disruptor Beam)

  • Grim Dawn (Crate Entertainment)

  • The Flame in the Flood (The Molasses Flood)

  • Catlateral Damage (Fire Hose Games)

  • Tick Tock Bang Bang (Dejobaan Games)

2017

CONQUERING MOBILE

Game of Thrones: Conquest was the second Game of Thrones game to be released by a Boston studio. Coming after Disruptor Beam's Game of Thrones: Ascent, Conquest would become one of the most successful games in Boston history, leading to a revitalization of the studio.

  • Fieldrunners Attack (Subatomic Studios)

  • Game of Thrones: Conquest (WB Games Boston)

  • Rock Band VR (Harmonix)

  • SingSpace (Harmonix)

  • DropMix (Harmonix)

  • Super Beat Sports (Harmonix)

  • Battery Boy (Petricore)

  • King Kaiju (Fire Hose Games)

  • 20XX (Fire Hose Games)

  • Emily Is Away Too (Kyle Seeley)

  • Perception (The Deep End Games)

  • Wartide: Heroes of Atlantis (Outact)

  • The Walking Dead: March to War (Disruptor Beam)

2018

Underworld

Following in footsteps of Ultima Underworld, OtherSide Entertainment would set out to revitalize the franchise. Those many gamers were most interested in a reboot of System Shock 2, many were also excited to see what 30 years could do for the Underworld legacy.

  • SEGA Heroes (Demiurge Studios)

  • Underworld Ascendant (OtherSide Entertainment)

  • Underworld Overlord (OtherSide Entertainment)

  • Make Sail (Popcannibal)

  • Block Pooper 9 (Popcannibal)

2019

kine words

Kine, a Stadia launch title and Epic store exclusive, won awards in 2019 for its soundtrack and puzzle design. Kind Words became one of the highest-rated games on Steam, with 99% of users recommending it. Both highlighted the success of Boston indie games, and set the stage for the next decade.

  • Audica (Harmonix)

  • Twitch Sings (Harmonix)

  • Dance Central (VR) (Harmonix)

  • Dead Drop Desperado (Petricore)

  • Kind Words (Popcannibal)

  • Kine (Gwen Frey / Chump Squad)

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