Legend Entertainment

video game developer company

Legend Entertainment was an American developer and publisher of computer games, best known for their complex and distinctive adventure titles throughout the 1990s. The company was founded by Bob Bates and Mike Verdu, both veterans of the acclaimed interactive fiction studio Infocom that shut down in 1989. Their first games, TIMEQUEST and Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All The Girls, both had strong sales which sustained the company. Legend also profited from negotiating licenses to popular book series, allowing them to create notable game adaptations such as Companions of Xanth (based on Demons Don't Dream) and Gateway (based on the novel). Legend also earned a reputation for comedic adventures, with numerous awards for Eric the Unready in 1993. As the demands of the game industry changed Legend continued to expand their game engine to take advantage of higher graphical fidelity, mouse support, and the increased media storage of the compact disc. These industry changes led to difficult competition by the mid-1990s, especially in the adventure game genre. Legend secured investment from book publisher Random House and developed additional book adaptations, such as Death Gate and Shannara, as well as original titles such as Mission Critical. The company's expenses for graphics were rising without a similar rise in sales, however, causing Random House to exit the game industry. Legend found game publishers to take over marketing and distribution, so they could focus their efforts exclusively on development. While the studio’s adventure titles suffered in the changing marketplace, working with game publishers allowed Legend to experiment with more action-oriented titles such as Star Control 3. In their final years, Legend fully pivoted to first-person shooters thanks to a growing relationship with Unreal developer Tim Sweeney and publisher GT Interactive. The studio released the 1999 game adaptation of The Wheel of Time book series, designed using the Unreal Engine as a first-person action game. However, Legend's sales continued to dwindle, followed by the difficult development and commercial failure of Unreal II: The Awakening in 2003. The studio shut down soon after, with staff moving to other companies in the game industry.
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