Founded by three former Activision workers, Greg Fischbach, Jim Scoroposki, and Robert Holmes, in New York in 1987, the name of the company was chosen to place them alphabetically ahead of Activision on release listing — something Activision themselves had previously done to get ahead of Atari.
The name "Acclaim" is dubious among gamers, due in part to the perception of the quality of its licensed output (which, in contrast to its arcade ports, generally ranges from mediocre to poor), most of which it published under its LJN Toys, Ltd. label (in the same way Konami did with "Ultra Games," due to Nintendo's strict licensing policies during the NES era). It should be noted that Acclaim/LJN developed very few of its games. Most of the games they published were actually commissioned to external developers such as Rare, Beam Software, Pack-in Studios, and even Atlus (yes, the same people that did Megami Tensei, also developed the The Karate Kid game). Even then, Acclaim still bears some responsibility just for the sole fact that they published their bad games.
The company made several questionable marketing decisions during its waning years (such as spending $65 million on a comic book company, being willing to foot the bill for a funeral as long as advertising is on the headstone and the infamous decision to include nudity in what became BMX XXX; this, coupled with continuing to use Dave Mirra's name even after he asked not to be associated with the game, he eventually sued Acclaim for damages). The company eventually filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in September 2004, effectively shutting it down for good. Ironically, when Acclaim went under it had finished making an exceptionally good licensed game based on The Red Star, which was eventually picked up for publication by XS Gamesnote and released in 2007.
In 2006, another company acquired Acclaim's name and logo and called itself "Acclaim Games," acting as a publisher of MMORPGs such as BOTS, 9Dragons and The Chronicles of Spellborn. In May 2010, Acclaim Games was purchased by Playdom, which later was acquired by Disney in July. The new company operated for four years before Disney decided to bury the Acclaim name for good. In August, the company ceased operations a second time on August 26, 2010.
A good majority of Acclaim's IPs are now held by Canadian-based publisher Throwback Entertainment. However, only time will tell if any new installments for these games will be released.
Games published/developed by Acclaim in its first incarnation:
- Aggressive Inline
- Arch Rivals
- BMX XXX
- Burnout (first two games only)
- the Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX series
- Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX
- Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX 2
- Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX 3
- Double Dragon II: The Revenge (the NES version)
- Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones
- Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (published the U.S. PS2 port)
- Fur Fighters
- Galactic Attack (the U.S. Saturn home port of RayForce)
- Iggy's Reckin' Balls
- Judge Dredd, a tie-in game for the Stallone film
- Justice League Task Force (developed by Sunsoft)
- Legends Of Wrestling
- Looney Tunes B-Ball (acquired from Sunsoft USA when they went under; developed by Sculpted Entertainment, who eventually became "Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City")
- Mortal Kombat (home versions)
- Mortal Kombat II (home versions)
- NBA Jam (home versions)
- Psychic Force (the U.S. PlayStation port)
- Psychic Force 2012 (the U.S. Dreamcast port only)
- Rambo (developed by Pack-In-Video)
- South Park
- the Turok series
- the Wizards & Warriors series (Developed by Rare)
- Various WWF video games, including:
- WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game (home versions)
- WWF In Your House
- WWF War Zone
- WWF Attitude