Dissecting the Downfall of Sierra Games

On this episode of Waypoint Radio, Rob Zacny sit downs with writer Duncan Fyfe to discuss his recent article on the decline and death of Sierra Games. They go over the tale of fraud and too good to be true deals, and also dig a bit deeper into some of the key players. You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/4add83/dissecting-the-downfall-of-sierra-games

I haven’t had a chance to read the original article yet, but this interview was really great.

This was a great read and a great podcast interview. I grew up with Sierra games and never had the chance to dip into LucasArts as a kid so tons of my young gaming memories are filled with their catalog. I was even slightly traumatized as a child by seeing some of the more gruesome phantasmagoria deaths waaaay too early.

I had always just assumed that Sierra had gotten too long in the tooth and that the death of the adventure game was the death of the company. I played the later entries in the series I grew up with and they were all incredibly disappointing. Mask of Eternity was a slog, Return to Krondor was clunky and dull, and the final Gabriel Knight… my god the puzzles in that game are legendarily bad. I vaguely remember having to put tape on a hole in a fence to spook a cat and catch its fur so you could use it with syrup to make a fake mustache to match your fake ID all so you could rent a motorcycle instead of a scooter. I’m probably getting some of those finer details wrong, but not enough. With games like that, who isn’t surprised they folded?

Stories like this always fascinate and terrify me because they reveal more often than not that everything in the world is held together with chewing gum and faith. I will never be in a position where I’m deciding billion dollar deals, but I cannot fathom agreeing to something without ever actually taking a look at the balance sheets or EVER being allowed to see them.


This past weekend I got really big into Youtube channels about aviation. So that’s where my head is right now.

Ken Williams is a genius in that he could see the future. But seeing the future isn’t the hard part. Lots of people see what’s coming. The hard part is being lucky enough to be at the right place and the right time. Not everybody gets to be Amazon, only Amazon can be Amazon. Sorry.

My example here is gonna be international air travel. People knew that was the future by the 1920s. Italian engineer Giovanni Caproni (you might recognize him from the dreams in Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises) tried to get biplanes to cross the Atlantic. Count Zeppelin and Ludwig Durr tried it with lighter-than-air hydrogen cruise ships . Just after WWII you see things like the Saunders-Roe Princess, a seaplane the size of a DC-10. None of them got to be Boeing or Pan Am. Most ended up crashed into a lake or exploding over New Jersey.

You gotta feel bad for all these failures. They read the future correctly, they were so close in many cases. But the market wasn’t ready, the technology was too far away, or was already outdated by the time they got there. In Ken Williams case, at least nobody got killed in the process.

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This was a fascinating article to read, and a great dissection to listen to. As a fan of the heyday Sierra, I really enjoyed this and also learned a few things. Thank you Duncan and Rob!

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