Bits & Bytes
TEAMING UP TO WAIT FOR BETTER DAYS IN PC GAMES
Since the Nintendo craze swept into America in 1985, makers of entertainment software for personal computers have seen their fortunes fade. Some have decided to jump on the Nintendo bandwagon and develop video games. But two companies, Sierra On-Line Inc. and Broderbund Software Inc., were determined to stick with PC games exclusively. Now, faced with slow growth, these California software developers have decided to merge, in a stock swap valued at $88 million.
If the deal goes through, the combined company, Sierra-Broderbund Inc., would be the largest maker of home-computer software, with about $85 million in annual sales. Kenneth A. Williams, Sierra's chief executive, says the problem with the PC-game business is that, while interactive programs such as the King's Quest series from Sierra are too complicated to run on Nintendo machines, PCs are still too complex and expensive for many consumers. As a result, "the market is flat," says Williams. A merger with Broderbund, famous for its Carmen Sandiego educational games, will prepare the combined company for the day when PCs are cheaper and a more popular channel for multimedia entertainment, he says.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG