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Experienced with sports games (after the successful Actua Soccer and Premier Manager games), Gremlin required more additions to their sports range after releasing Actua Golf. As the Nagano Olympic Games were close, they acquired a license for the ice hockey tournament (which for the first time accepted proefessional athletes), making it the official video game, including real players. Market leader NHL '98, while adding for the first time national teams, only NHL players were real, but that was enough for the EA Sports franchise to top Gremlin's game in sales and critic appreciation (and eventually, even became one of the sports games of the year).
In 1999, Gremlin reworked the engine for better gameplay, graphics, Direct3D support and club teams, and Actua Ice Hockey 2 was released. Actua Ice Hockey 2 was originally intended to be Fox Sports Hockey and was being developed by Gremlin for Fox Interactive, who had obtained an NHL license. Just over half way through development, Fox pulled out taking the NHL license with it. Above the objections of some of the developers, development of the game continued. All references to NHL were changed to GHL ( Gremlin Hockey League ), all player names were modified by substituting vowels (Svoboda became Svaboda, for instance), player faces were randomized and a whole new front-end was developed. The game flopped, and as Gremlin was acquired by then Infogrames (now Atari), no further titles were developed.