Early Career in Atari
When David Crane first entered the video game industry it was was still young and treading in new waters. With Atari's introduction of the Atari 2600 console however video games became a popular form of entertainment and was drawing in various entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize in the new industry. However despite the video game industry drawing in millions of dollars very little of that money trickled down to the programmers. Because Atari had a monopoly on the publishing rights for games released on the Atari 2600 the company disregarded their programmers for the most part. Mr. Crane noticed this even by the first few years of his career in Atari. Knowing that games that he single-handedly created, such as Outlaw and Canyon Bomber, for the company had resulted in a $20 million year for Atari in 1978, Crane and his fellow designers approached Atari management and asked for more money and proper recognition. After the top brass refused Crane and many of his fellow employees ( Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller, and Bob Whitehead), with the support of music mogul Jim Levy, felt it was time to leave Atari and create their own company. As a result of Crane help found the first third party video game company, Activision.
Career at Activision
As a result of founding Activision under the ideals of promoting programmers and developers by supporting programmers financially and creatively, Crane flourished as a video game programmer. Crane started his new career at Activision with a smash with hits such as Dragster, Fishing Derby, and Kaboom! With video game development still very much a solo act (a single programmer would program, design, and bug test their games by themselves), Crane and his fellow employees were promoted like rock stars by their CEO Jim Levy. However on September 6, 1982 Crane would become more than a rock star, and instead would become a revolutionary with the release of his masterpiece Pitfall! Often credited as the first true platforming game, Pitfall! was a true achievement from both a technical and financial perspective. From a technical perspective Crane had created a beautifully rendered game with detailed sprites. These sprites were also were far more responsive than any other sprites seen before. From a financial perspective Crane had created the first true third party mega-hit. Pitfall! would go onto sell over 4 million copies on the 2600, making it second to the 2600 version of Pac-Man as the best selling 2600 game ever. Pitfall would also go onto to spawn numerous sequels (the second of which, Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, Crane also developed) and knock offs. Crane would continue working at Activision for four more years after the release of Pitfall!, and left the company by 1986. The reason for his departure from Activision was similar to his departure from Atari. After Jim Levy left the company by 1986 the new CEO Bruce Davis took a more traditional approach to managing Activision which was similar to what Crane had experienced when working for Atari. Crane feeling constrained by Bruce Davis's management decided to leave.
Post Activision Career
After Crane left Activision and co-founded Absolute Entertainment, he would go onto develop his next well known game, A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia. The game would go onto be a hit on the NES console and went onto support a sequel (which Crane would also develop) on the Game Boy titled A Boy and His Blob in The Rescue of Princess Blobette. While Crane's games supported Absolute Entertainment a slew of poorly received and poorly designed games hurt the company and by 1995 the company was closed. Crane and the other founders of Absolute Entertainment went of to found Skyworks Interactive (where he still works to this day) which is centered around casual online gaming and recently has begun development for the iPhone.
On Aug 11, 2012 David Crane, in conjunction with his new compnay Jungle Venture Inc., began a KickStarter project for a new adventure game. The projects is tentivley called David Crane's Jungle Adventure and is planned to feature exploration, eliminating or avoiding threats, collecting treasures and puzzle solving.
Awards and Accolades
- Was bestowed the very first Pioneer Award by the Academy of the Interactive Arts & Sciences.
- A Boy and His Blob was awarded a Parent's Choice award by the Parent's Choice Foundation when it was released.
- Met his wife on a trip in the US.
- David Crane thought up the idea of Pitfall in about 10 minutes.
- Will Wright has mentioned having played Little Computer People and using elements from the game for his own hit series The Sims.
- Following the success of Pitfall! British developer Microdeal made it a habit of plagiarizing the works of David Crane