From Then to Now - Imagine Software

Imagine Software was closed in July 1984 following financial difficulties. The company's back catalogue was owned by Beau Jolly, while rights to the Imagine label were acquired by Ocean Software, which used it to publish home computer conversions of popular arcade games under the name of Imagine Studios. The final game bearing the Imagine name was released in 1989.




<Extract from Popular Computing Weekly, 8th-14th March 1984)...

Imagine back from the brink

IMAGINE, the flamboyant Liverpool-based software house, has suffered a hitch in    its plans to dominate the home computer games market.

Some 30 software titles—six games, with versions for five micros — written under contract have been rejected by their proposed publisher, Marshall Cavendish. The games were to have been used to support a new micro magazine    part-work from Marshall    Cavendish called input at present being test marketed in the Border counties,

Explained Imagine’s general manager Bruce Everiss: “There was a difference of opinion in the interpretation of our agreement with Marshall Cavendish so the contract was terminated amicably.”

Unfortunately, this has suddenly left Imagine with three finished and four partly completed games programs. One — Pedro, for the Spectrum. Commodore 64, Dragon, BBC and Electron computers – will
now be sold by imagine itself.

The company is trying to sell most of the remaining titles to other software houses. It seems probable that two more will turn up among the introductory software packages given away to purchasers of the new, as yet unlaunched, Amstrad microcomputer.

To further increase Imagine’s embarrassment, Marshall Cavendish forked out a substantial sum of money — rumoured to be in the region of £1/2m — to Imagine before work on the games began. Imagine must now pay this back in 12 monthly instalments, beginning in April.

Imagine has also announced to the trade that it intends to reduce the retail price of all its existing games software from £5.50 to £3.95 in the near future.

Parallel with this plan, the company is in the process of splitting its marketing and software production operations into separate companies. Creative Technology Group has been formed to lOok after the company’s 60-strong programming team, while Imagine Software will function solely as a marketing company. An advertising production company, Studio Sting, in which both Imagine founders Mark Butler and Dave Lawson had a stake, went into liquidation in late 1983.


<Extract from Popular Computing Weekly, 14th-20th June 1984)...

Imagine’s games sold

IMAGINE Software has sold its software catalogue to Beau Jolly a sister company of Nouveau Records. This is Beau Jolly’s first venture into the software market.

As well as a lump sum. Imagine will also continue to get a royalty for each game sold. However, Imagine’s latest games, Cosmic Cruiser and BC Bill, together with Arcadia and Mega-Vault, do not come under the deal and will continue to be marketed by Imagine.

“We will be marketing the Imagine games in the same packaging, and for the same price,” said Beau Jolly’s Colin Ashby, ex-managing director of K-Tel records.

“When we first discussed deal with Imagine, our idea  was to produce a compilation pack of Imagine’s games. From our negotiations the opportunity to take over their entire list came up.”

Beau Jolly will be launching a ‘value pack’ of Imagine games in two weeks time, which also includes Invaders and 3D Frogger from Sumlock Software.

The value pack will come in two versions — a four game set for £16.49, and a six game set for £21.40 — and will be available for the Vic 20, Commodore 64, and 16K and 48K Spectrum.

“We think there is a lot of appeal in compilations,” Colin continued, “and we are currently negotiating for licensing deals with several other companies.”



<Extract from Popular Computing Weekly, 5th-11th July 1984)...

Bitter split breaks Imagine

IMAGINE. the flamboyant Liverpool software company. whose financial problems have been deepening since February, is now insolvent.

Magazine publishers VNU petitioned for a winding up order to be brought against the company on Monday. July 2.

The crisis means that the future of Imagine’s two Mega-games is now uncertain.

The situation has been exacerbated by a bitter internal split between general manager Bruce Everiss and his co-directors.lan Hetherington and Dave Lawson. The position of Imagine’s other director, Mark Butler is still not clear. Bruce Everiss resigned as director and general manager at midday on Friday, June 29.

Central to the disagreement is a new company called Finehspeed set up by Hetherington and Lawson to raise funds. Hetherington, Lawson and Mark Butler each have a one-third share in the new company.

“They have set up Finchspeed in order to own Imagine’s Megagames and assets for themselves,” claimed Everiss. “They have a staff list of 20 people to join Finchspeed which means that the remaining 60 Imagine employees will simply be discarded.

“Ian Hetherington and Dave Lawson are in the States to raise funds for Finchspeed. Imagine will not see this money.”

Speaking from the US on June 29, Ian Hetherington refuted this. “Dave Lawson and myself have been in Silicon Valley trying to raise money for Imagine for the last two weeks. We set up Finchspeed as an off-the-shelf company to get money into Imagine. “There is no point in discussing Finchspeed, since it is dead and buried. It’s forgotten.”

However, at an extraodinary general Meeting of Imagine’s shareholders on July 1, a contract between Imagine and Finchspeed was approved by a majority of those present.

This contract gives Finchspeed the copyright of the Megagames and the use of !Inagine’s premises, and Imagine’s assets. Finchspeed will pay Imagine £40,000 for equipment needed to develop the Mega-games and then 50 per cent of the net profit from the games up to a maximum of £625,000.

The question is whether the deal will save Imagine: “At present, Imagine owe about £400,000,” said Bruce Everiss. “That includes £100,000 to the bank and £250,000 to Marshall Cavendish.”

Ian Hetherington would not comment on the figures, other than to say that the figure for the overall amount owed is incorrect. He added, “We are hoping to raise £1.5m in the States, and this will cover all the debts and pay for the Megagames. We have been very close to clinching deals. It is important that the Mega-games go out with Imagine’s name on them, and I will do anything to ensure that they do.”

As for the 60 staff left without a job according to Everiss, Hetherington commented, “Staff will have to be sacked who are now loyal to Bruce Everiss.” He added that the personality clashes within the company had been brewing for about three months.

Imagine’s two Megagames were originally planned to be launched with an extensive and distinctive promotional campaign. Marble slabs were to be laid in Hyde Park with the names of the games etched into them and the BBC were filming a documentary on their making.


<Extract from Popular Computing Weekly, 12th-19th July 1984)...

Imagine hits more trouble

IMAGINE, the troubled Liverpool software house, was still holding its head above water last week, although over two thirds of the staff have been laid off.

On Monday. July 2 a court ruling gave the company seven days to pay a £10,000 debt to VNU Business Publications. To raise the money Imagine last week sold 110,000 tapes from stock at 30 pence each to a German wholesaler.

So far Imagine’s creditors have twice called in bailiffs to the company’s Liverpool offices, and Merseyside police are also “monitoring” Imagine’s affairs, regarding non-payment to its creditors. The police spokesman stressed that no investigation into Imagine’s affairs has yet been started.



<Extract from Popular Computing Weekly, 19th-25th July 1984)...

Imagine in hands of Receiver

THE Official Receiver has now been called in at Imagine Software.

The company was wound up on Monday, July 9, at the High Court in London, after Imagine failed to pay creditors VNU Business Publications £10,000 within a seven day time limit.

A creditors meeting has yet to be arranged, but until a receiver has been appointed, the Official Receiver in Liverpool is standing in.

But there is a long list of other creditors still waiting to be paid by Imagine including Kiltdale, a Gloucestershire duplication plant, Marshall Cavendish, still waiting for payment in the region of £250,000, Liverpool City Council, printers Henry Matthews and Son, United Arab Shipping, who own Tithebarn House, where Imagine occupied offices, Scatchards, a Liverpool wine merchant, where Imagine had an account and G D Studios, which produced cassette labels and artwork for the company. The total of debts from these companies is put at over £300,000.

Former Imagine directors Dave Lawson and Ian Hetherington — together with several ex-Imagine employees — are believed to be still continuing development of the two Megagames, for which they now own the copyright.

Bruce Everiss is in negotiations with an un-named, non-software company in Liverpool, regarding employment of other former Imagine staff.