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Digital Anvil
Fate acquired, then dissolved
Founded 1996
Defunct January 31, 2006
Headquarters Austin, Texas
Key people Chris Roberts
Industry Computer and video game industry
Products Video Games
Parent Microsoft

Digital Anvil was a computer game company. It was founded in 1996, when Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts left Origin Systems, Inc., along with many other employees.

According to Chris Roberts, Digital Anvil was created to bring back the "small-team" element that characterized the computer gaming industry throughout the 1980s. Four titles were initially announced: Conquest: Frontier Wars, a Command & Conquer-style game set in space; Loose Cannon, a racing game similar to the later Driver and Grand Theft Auto games; Starlancer, a space combat game in the Wing Commander tradition, and the company's flagship, Freelancer, an ambitious unofficial follow up to Wing Commander: Privateer.

The first game to be released by Digital Anvil was Starlancer, developed externally by Warthog Games. It was, unfortunately, released during an era of declining interest in space-combat, and the game was a financial failure. Two planned sequels were scrapped.

Digital Anvil was purchased by Microsoft on 5 Dec 2000.[1] One of the consequences of this action was a reshuffling of titles being developed. Conquest: Frontier Wars and Loose Cannon were dropped by the company, eventually being picked up by Ubi Soft Entertainment. Conquest was eventually released in 2001, but Loose Cannon has not yet been released and it remains doubtful it ever will be. Many of the Digital Anvil staff working on Loose Cannon were reassigned to the company's flagship Freelancer. Brute Force (still unannounced at the time) was switched from a computer game to an Xbox exclusive. Of all the projects being produced, only Freelancer escaped major change. Co-founder Chris Roberts left the company after the Microsoft takeover, but he still worked as a consultant on Freelancer.

Digital Anvil also made the visual effects of the 1999 film Wing Commander (see imdb: Wing Commander (1999) under "Visual Effects by", also in the film's credits).

For the next year, Digital Anvil was mostly silent, and many wondered whether any games from the company would see the light of day. Then, in 2001, Digital Anvil revealed a leaner, meaner Freelancer to the gaming press. Although some of the more ambitious elements were dropped, this act proved Freelancer was not vaporware.

In March 2003, Freelancer was released and immediately became one of the month's top-selling games. Reviews were mixed, but the game did well commercially. In May of the same year, Digital Anvil released Brute Force for the Xbox. The game also did quite well, setting first-month sales records for Xbox games.

In November 2005, Microsoft redeployed the developer's employees to its Microsoft Game Studios headquarters. Digital Anvil was officially dissolved on January 31, 2006.

Key staff from Digital Anvil then teamed up together with staff from Warthog Games (Now known as Gizmondo) to form Embryonic Studios, which was later acquired by TT Games in 2007 to become TT Fusion.

See also


  1. ^ "Microsoft to Acquire Digital Anvil". press release. PR Newswire, Gale Group. 5 Dec 2000. Retrieved 5 Dec 2008.  

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