Why Sierra Must Die

Why Sierra Must Die

It seems likely that Activision Blizzard will drop its newly-acquired Sierra label as the company’s branding strategy takes shape. Here’s our take: deep-six the Sierra brand post-haste. With the Activision/Vivendi Games merger complete, the time is perfect to finally lay the once-revered moniker to rest, and let it be remembered fondly for its glory days as the developer of revolutionary adventure games.

Al Lowe, the mastermind behind Sierra’s lauded Leisure Suit Larry franchise, agrees that "Sierra" should be laid upon the funeral pyre. The impassioned Lowe told Edge, "For years, Sierra has been nothing more than a logo slapped on whatever box [Vivendi Games] thought it would help sell better. It was ‘Sierra’ in name only. They allowed the brand to wither into meaninglessness."

Asked what he thinks should happen to the Sierra label, he replied, "Why not do to [the brand] what [its owners] did to the people who created it?"

It’s easy to get sentimental when poring over Sierra’s old catalog: King’s Quest, Police Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight and other games stir nostalgic feelings. "Sierra On-Line" was the house that adventure built, with fabled founders Ken and Roberta Williams the main architects. The label meant something.

There have been good games in recent times that had the "Sierra" label "slapped" on them. We’re fans of Fear, World in Conflict, Assault Heroes, The Bourne Conspiracy and Carcassone, for instance. Don’t misinterpret: today’s Sierra has its share of talent. Sierra Entertainment’s studios include High Moon and Radical Entertainment, and, for now anyway, Massive Entertainment and Swordfish Studios. There are talented men and women there.

But aside from some recent quality titles, over the years the Sierra label itself became a mish-mash of second- and third-tier games distributed across seemingly random genres targeting random audiences who are interested in random things. What’s the point of Sierra anyway?

Ken Williams, retired father of Sierra On-Line told us, "…I really don’t know what Sierra even is these days."

Today, Williams seems to be completely emotionally detached from the company that he founded and once nourished.

"…I suppose I should be disappointed anytime I hear that Sierra is being shut down, but it really doesn’t bother me," he said. "The company was horribly mismanaged for a long time, and it depresses me more every time I hear about a dumb decision being made than it does when I hear that someone did the right thing, even when it includes killing off a brand or reducing staff size."

There’s no more soul to Sierra, not like there used to be. The "real" Sierra isn’t found at the official corporate website. It can be found at places like www.sierragamers.com, where fans of the old adventure games continue to gather today to interact with the Williams and share classic Sierra game experiences.