Acclaim studios' future unclear as Exclaim deal stalls

Fate of 160 development staff in Cheltenham and Manchester remains uncertain.

The future of the Acclaim UK studios in Cheltenham and Manchester seems uncertain once more today, as the launch of new publisher Exclaim by former Acclaim CEO Rod Cousens appears to have been held up by legal issues in the United States.

It had been hoped that the new company - which is using Exclaim as a temporary name - would start operations on October 11th, but the process appears to be stalled, leaving the 160 staff at the two studios in what one employee described to us as "a state of limbo."

The reasons for the halt in progress towards launching the new firm aren't certain, as several different versions of the situation are being cited by those involved, but it's clear that the problems are largely down to serious concerns raised by the US administrators responsible for overseeing the Chapter 7 liquidation of the Acclaim parent company in New York.

Acclaim's Chapter 7 trustee, Allan Mendelsohn, has previously challenged Rod Cousens' claim to ownership of the UK studios, and has questioned his actions in arranging for the sale of those assets to Exclaim - a company founded by Cousens and Europlay Capital Advisers - just ahead of the Chapter 7 filing in the USA.

It's also believed that a deal with the administrators which would have seen Exclaim acquiring the rights to certain franchises such as Heist and Interview with a Made Man has also been held up, as the court is reluctant to allow it to proceed at present. Another former Acclaim property which Exclaim hoped to win the rights to, Juiced, is in the process of being sold to THQ, with that deal already approved by the court.

Word from within the development studios in the UK suggests that there is a growing level of frustration with the situation among staff, who have not been paid since their salaries were credited to their accounts in August, and then summarily removed again.

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