Neversoft or Neversoft Entertainment is an American video game developer, founded in 1994 by Joel Jewett, Mick West and Chris Ward. Neversoft is best recognized for their line of Tony Hawk skateboarding games, known as the Tony Hawk's series. The company was acquired by Activision in 1999.
Joel Jewett, a native of Montana and a CPA, was at the time head of development at the rapidly shrinking Malibu Interactive. He teamed up with Mick West, a game programmer who had just completed working on "Battletech - A Game of Armored Combat" for the Mega Drive/Genesis, and Chris Ward, an Artist. Both Chris and Mick were from Yorkshire in England, although they first met when they moved to California in 1993 to work at Malibu Interactive.
In July 1994 Neversoft was formed. They initially found work for Playmates Interactive Entertainment a then division of Playmates Toys, who were about to release a line of toys called Skeleton Warriors and wanted a game to go along with the toys and the cartoon series. Neversoft began work on the game design, and moved into offices in Woodland Hills, California.
Neversoft worked on the Sega version for five months, over that time they hired another artist and a level designer. In December 1994 Playmates cancelled the game. They were not unhappy with the progress, but had decided that they needed to get on the 32-Bit bandwagon and develop the game for the new Sega Saturn.
1995 was spent developing Skeleton Warriors for the Sega Saturn. Over the course of this year Neversoft grew rapidly, hiring three programmers, five artists, a level designer, a tester and an office administrator. Skeleton Warriors was finished in time for the 1995 holiday season, and Neversoft began looking for other work while they ported Skeleton Warriors to the Sony PlayStation.
In 1996 Neversoft continued to expand, swelling to over twenty employees. They worked for six months on a game based on Ghost Rider for Crystal Dynamics which was cancelled due to financial problems with the publisher. They got connected to the internet (previously all communications were done with phone and fax). With some excess capacity Neversoft started to develop a game of their own design, initially called Big Guns. The technology developed there was used in their next project, a conversion of the PC game MDK. Toward the end of 1996 Neversoft sold the idea for Big Guns to Sony Computer Entertainment and they began development.
1997 was a tumultuous year for Neversoft. The MDK conversion took far longer than expected, and the Big Guns game (renamed Exodus) went through numerous design changes at the behest of Sony, and was eventually cancelled in November 1997. The company shrunk back to just twelve employees. Neversoft then spent the next few months shopping around their technology, meeting with numerous companies and looking for work.
In January 1998, just as Neversoft was about to run out of money, they had a fortunate meeting with Activision who were looking for someone to re-develop Apocalypse, a failed internal project featuring the voice of Bruce Willis. The technology developed for Big Guns turned out to be ideal for the project, Activision were impressed and Neversoft began work on Apocalypse.
In May 1998, Apocalypse was going very well, and Activision signed up Neversoft to develop a prototype for a skateboarding game. This proceeded slowly as they could not spare many people from Apocalypse. The initial prototypes resembled the arcade game Top Skater. Apocalypse wrapped up in October 1998 and development began in earnest on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (aka THPS) for the PlayStation and N64. At this time Neversoft comprised 15 people: six programmers, five artists, three level designers and Joel, the President.
1999 saw the start of development of the game Spider-Man, also for Activision. Like THPS the technology for this game was also based on the Apocalypse engine, which was in turn based on the Big Guns engine. Neversoft was now developing two major games in parallel, and expanded appropriately, growing into two large teams.
Activision acquired Neversoft in the summer of 1999 in a stock swap deal. The founders of Neversoft and several key employees signed four year employment agreements.
The year 2000 saw the development of THPS2, and also the release of Spider-Man. During 2000 Neversoft began work on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 specifically for the PlayStation 2. As both teams finished their project they were merged into one large team. THPS3 was developed using the RenderWare game engine.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was released in 2001, followed by Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 in 2002. In 2003 Neversoft reworked the game with a more story-oriented approach in Tony Hawk's Underground, followed by a sequel in Tony Hawk's Underground 2 in 2004. In 2004 Neversoft again split into two teams as they began work on a new internally developed IP called GUN and the seventh version of the Tony Hawk's series called Tony Hawk's American Wasteland.
After Activision acquired RedOctane and the Guitar Hero series, Harmonix developed their last Guitar Hero game, Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, before they were acquired by MTV. Neversoft continued the Guitar Hero series by developing the next installment, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, with their in-house game engine made from scratch rather than using Harmonix's engine. Released in 2007, Neversoft developed the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 versions.
The company's namesake will also be used as the title of the lead villain for Austin Powers 4, speculated to be video game fan Scott Evil's new identity.
|1996||Skeleton Warriors||PlayStation, Sega Saturn|
|1999||Tony Hawk's Pro Skater||PlayStation|
|2000||Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2||PlayStation|
|2001||Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3||PlayStation, GameCube, PlayStation 2||PS2 Greatest Hits version released in 2002|
|2002||Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3||Xbox|
|Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4||GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox|
|2003||Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4||Hybrid Windows/Mac|
|Tony Hawk's Underground||GameCube, PC(English Nations except North America), PlayStation 2, Xbox|
|2004||Tony Hawk's Underground 2||GameCube, PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox|
|2005||Tony Hawk's American Wasteland||GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360||Greatest Hits version for PS2 released in 2006|
|GUN||GameCube, PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360|
|2006||Tony Hawk's Project 8||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam||Wii, DS|
|2007||Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360||New acquisition from Harmonix|
|Tony Hawk's Proving Ground||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|Hot Wheels: Beat That!||Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Wii,|| First Game Made directly for PC|
|2008||Guitar Hero: Aerosmith||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii|
|Guitar Hero World Tour||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii|
|2009||Guitar Hero: Metallica||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|