Ocean Software
Founded 1984
Headquarters Manchester, England
Industry Video Game Publisher and Developer
Employment 23,000

Ocean Software Ltd (also known in the United States as Ocean of America, Inc.), commonly referred to as Ocean, is a British software development company, that became one of the biggest European video game developers/publishers of the 1980s, 1990s, and the 2000s. It is still one of Europe's largest video game developers and producers today. It was acquired by Infogrames in 1996. Infogrames then sold Ocean Software to Atari in 2004. The company was founded by David Ward and Jon Woods and was based in Manchester. Ocean has developed dozens of games for a variety of systems such as the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, MSX, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 16, Atari ST, Amiga, PC, and video game consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System and Sega Mega Drive. Nowadays, Ocean develops and produces games for home and handheld consoles, such as the Stream, the Eclipse, and the Game Boy 3DS.


The company's early releases in 1984 (Moon Alert, Hunchback, High Noon, Gilligan's Gold, Daley Thompson's Decathlon etc.) were developed in-house, but later in that year Ocean Software acquired its former Liverpool rival, the defunct software developer Imagine, and focus shifted from development to publication of games. Also in 1984, Ocean struck a deal with Konami to publish their arcade games for home computers.

  • In 1985, Ocean Software managed to secure the first movie licences, such as Rambo, Short Circuit and Cobra, as well as the TV show Miami Vice and RoboCop which spent about a year on the top of the charts.
  • In 1986, Ocean Software created with Marc DJAN Ocean Software France. This 16-bit studio will create most of the 16-bit arcade conversation between 1986 and 1991 then became the French marketing and sales subsidiary of Ocean software Ltd.
  • Ocean was acquired by Infogrames in 1996 for £100,000,000.
  • Ocean was sold to Atari in 2004 for £50,000,000.
  • Ocean joined forces with Disney Interactive Studios in 2010 to develop, produce, and license Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force: Herbert's Revenge and Club Penguin: Game Day!.

Tape Loaders

One of the most recognizable features of Ocean games on the Commodore 64 was the Ocean Loader. Since this computer used cassettes as storage, loading a game could take several minutes. Ocean used a special loading system that displayed a picture based on the game and played music while the game was loading. The Ocean loader music is still popular by fans of chiptunes. Five versions of the tune exist; 1 and 2 were composed by Martin Galway, 3 by Peter Clarke, 4 and 5 by Jonathan Dunn. The Ocean Loader was first used in the game Hyper Sports. Up to 1987 the Ocean Loader was written by the in house Ocean programmer Bill Barna, from 1987 to the end of the Commodore 64's commercial life the loader was replaced by "Freeload" written by in house programmer Paul Hughes.

On the ZX Spectrum, games after 1984 generally used the Speedlock protection system, which eventually included a countdown timer showing the time left to load a game.

Licensed Games

As of July 2013, Ocean is famous for often buying the rights to make video games from different arcade, movie and television franchises. Many license games combine several styles for example featuring platform action and car driving. The most well received license games by Ocean were RoboCop (1988), Batman The Movie (1989) and Robocop 3 (1992), which featured 3D graphics in 16-bit versions. Also the adventure game, Hook (1992) got positive reviews. The 1986 game Batman got a rating of 93% in Crash magazine. Among Ocean's license games are:

Other Titles

Although Ocean is best known for its licensed games, it has produced many other releases.