|SimTex #2 |
Games developed: 4
Games published: 0
Period: 1992 - 1996
Long before anyone know what a "personal computer" (PC) is, Avalon Hill was a household name to many gamers. It was commonly regarded as THE best boardgame company that offered gamers a more sophisticated and challenging alternative to the likes of Monopoly. At its heights in late 1970s - early 1980s, Avalon Hill (the brand published by Monarch Avalon the holding company) had more than a hundred boardgames and modules on the market, covering almost every subject one could think of for a boardgame, from trivia to economics, sports, andhistorical battles. The annual GenCon conference drew tens of thousands of fans, who attended discussion panels led by game designers and competed in tournaments to win prizes. Avalon Hill games are famous for their balanced design and depth of gameplay that allow almost infinite replayability long after all the game pieces were punched from their cardboards. Diplomacy and Squad Leader to this day remain two of the best boardgames ever made.
When the invasion of PCs into households began in earnest in the mid 1970s, Avalon Hill founded the "Microcomputer Division" to convert its boardgame to the computer format. Although the division was extremely prolific-- it churned out dozens of games (most for the Apple II) in only a few years-- the quality of games unfortunately was far below that of their boardgame counterparts. With a few notable exceptions (Computer Diplomacy and Acquire), early Avalon Hill computer games were met with enthusiastic initial response, which died away as gamers discovered horrendous AI, flimsy manuals, and primitive graphics. Avalon Hill clearly didn't know how to design a good computer game, and so the boardgame giant quietly withdrew from the computer game market in mid-1980s.
Over a decade later, Avalon Hill was back for home PC-- for real. Its first release after the long hiatus, Kingmaker was not only a faithful conversion of the boardgame, but also took it to a new level with variants, crisp graphics, and excellent manuals (the game shipped with a game manual and thick historical manual, both in full-color and lavishly illustrated), despite some AI glitches. The company enjoyed moderate success for the next three years, releasing games that were either excellent (Third Reich), above-average (History of the World) , or downright innovative (Cavewars). However, there were simply too few turn-based strategy and wargame fans to support its games as most gamers' preferences shifted toward real-time strategy and first-person action games (such as the immensely popular Command & Conquer and DOOM). Avalon Hill released its first action game Defiance in 1997 in an effort to broaden its fan base, but by then it was too little, too late. A magazine for girls that Avalon Hill sunk millions of dollars into never took off, and sales of boardgames were fast declining as PC became the gaming platform of choice.
Avalon Hill computer games are no more, but hopefully on this site they will live on forever.
- The official Avalon Hill site still exists, but it looks very forlorn and un-informative. True to Hasbro's words, you can only buy some re-published boardgames at the site, although technical support pages for computer games are still up. For older classics, check Boardgames.com, Earthsea, and Hudson Games which offer many board game classics that are now out of print (although be prepared to pay a steep price <G>).
- EXCLUSIVE! Avalon Hill generously included their entire website as "catalog" on game CDs. Since the site no longer exists in its former glory, I've decided to upload it to this site. I gladly present, then, The Former Official Avalon Hill Page in its entirety, as of November, 1996. With detailed descriptions of almost every computer and board games and hints, this was my one of my favoortie websites :)
- Grognard.com, one of the best wargaming sites on the web, features historical notes and patches for many Avalon Hill games, including boardgame variants and reviews.
- Luckily for us, most third-party developers whose games used to be published by Avalon Hill have succeeded in finding new publishers. These include Big Time Software and Atomic Games, and so the reviews for their games below will link to order pages :)
- Former Atari and Apple owners may recall that Avalon Hill also published several adventure games in the early 1980s. Read more info at the Hans Persson's indispensable Adventureland
- Avalon Hill also published dozens of games for the Commodore 64. C64 Games Guide has a comprehensive list. Also visit the Apple II Emulator's Avalon Hill page for AH's Apple II games you can run on emulators.
Related companies: Stanley Associates, SimTex, Big Time Software, Visceral ProductionsRelated companies: Stanley Associates SimTex Big Time Software Visceral Productions