Ocean Software

From Sega Retro


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Ocean Software
Founded: 1983 (as Spectrum Games)
Defunct: 1998, 1999
T-series code: T-164
Merged into: Infogrames (1996), Bandai Namco (2009)
2 Castle Street, Castlefield, Manchester, England, United Kingdom, M3 4LZ

Ocean Software was a British video game developer and publisher which existed throughout the 1980s and 1990s. At it peak, it was one of the biggest publishers in Europe, developing hundreds of games for home computers and game consoles.


Ocean Software was founded by David Ward and Jon Woods in Manchester in early 1983, initially as Spectrum Games before switching to Ocean Software Ltd. within a year. Initially advertising its range of arcade game clones for UK 8-bit home computers (such as the ZX81, ZX Spectrum and Commmodore VIC-20). In 1984, Ocean would prop-up U.S. Gold by producing Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro and Spectrum conversions of the Commodore 64 games it was importing[1], before going on to become a major publishing force in its own right.

Ocean initially took cues from rival Imagine Software, a Liverpool-based video game company which had set up in September 1982. Imagine had set a precident for UK video game companies with its use of professional packaging and advertising campaigns, but unbenownst to Ocean at the time, had racked up huge debts in the process. When Imagine ceased trading a mere 18 months after launch, Ocean picked up the brand and kept it as a publishing label until 1989.

The company began acquiring film and television licenses in the mid-80s, with early notable hits including Daley Thompson's Decathlon (1984) and its computer game interpretation of Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). It also signed deals with the likes of Data East, Konami and Taito to bring their range of arcade titles to home computers. Ocean would start producing games for consoles (starting with the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 with the release of RoboCop 2[2]) with its first Sega games arriving in 1993.

Such was the extent of Ocean's business, a dedicated Ocean gaming magazine, Ocean Power was published for a short period in the early 1990s.

While huge in the 16-bit markets, Ocean Software struggled in the transition to 32-bit and CD-ROM-based media, and was acquired by Infogrames in 1996. The name continued to be used until 1998 when the studio was renamed Infogrames United Kingdom Ltd., followed by Atari United Kingdom Ltd. in 2003. After being sold to Bandai Namco in 2009, the remnants of Ocean Sofware now trade as Bandai Namco Entertainment UK Ltd..


Master System

Mega Drive

Game Gear



Amstrad CPC