Moorhuhn (distributed as Crazy Chicken in English-speaking countries) is a German casual game franchise for PCs and the Nintendo DS. It consists of more than 30 games, the first of which – a shoot 'em up – was Germany's most popular computer game in the early 2000s.
The Moorhuhn character is a brainchild of Ingo Mesche. The game (now distributed as Die Original Moorhuhn Jagd) was developed by the Dutch Witan studios, the Art Department advertising agency and Ingo Mesche as an advertisement for Johnnie Walker whisky in 1999. The game's objective was to shoot down, through a point-and-click interface, as many cartoonish "swamp chickens" (Template:Lang-de; literally "moorhens", i.e. willow grouses) as possible in 90 seconds.
The game was originally not intended for distribution, but was made available to play on laptops in bars by promoters dressed up as hunters. It was soon illicitly copied, however, and became widely available for download on private websites. The publisher's initial irritation at this subsided after the game received favorable mentions in popular media and demand for it grew. From 2000 onwards the game was officially made available for download by Art Department. It became wildly popular in German-speaking Europe, to the point of being denounced in the media as a threat to the bottom line of businesses, on account of the number of hours wasted by employees playing the game.
The game's success spawned a great deal of merchandise, a comic book series, an animated TV series, several motion picture scripts (although no movie was ever made) and a BMG-produced single (Gimme more Huhn by comedian Wigald Boning). It also caused Germany's authoritative Duden dictionary to include the word "Moorhuhn".
Propelled by the game's popularity, its Bochum-based publisher Phenomedia AG, who had acquired Art Department, went public in late 1999 at the height of the dot-com bubble and attained a market value of up to one billion Euro.
In 2002, the stock value rapidly collapsed after it became known that the company's leaders were under investigation for falsifying balance sheets. Chairman of the Vorstand Markus Scheer and CFO (Finanzvorstand) Björn Denhard, who confessed to the falsifications, were fired. In 2009, they were sentenced by a German court to 46 and 36 months' imprisonment, respectively, for securities fraud and other infractions.
Phenomedia AG underwent insolvency proceedings. Its assets, including the Moorhuhn series, were bought by a successor company, phenomedia publishing GmbH, which continues to publish Moorhuhn games.
List of Moorhuhn games
The following list, taken from the publisher's website, is current as of February 2009.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Moorhuhn im Sturzflug" (in German). Deutsche Welle. 24 April 2002. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1606,505637,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Stirn, Alexander (19 January 2000). "Geschichte eines Spiels: Moorhuhns Mutter plant Nachwuchs" (in German). Spiegel Online. http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/0,1518,60356,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-18.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "Moorhuhnmania - nun auch TV-Serie mit dem Federvieh" (in German). Golem.de. 11 April 2000. http://www.golem.de/0004/7220.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Bilanzfälschung: Moorhuhn-Manager müssen in den Knast" (in German). Die Zeit Online. http://www.zeit.de/news/artikel/2009/02/13/2730002.xml. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
- ↑ "Phenomedia: Erste Geständnisse" (in German). Manager-Magazin. 13 May 2002. http://www.manager-magazin.de/geld/artikel/0,2828,195854,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
- ↑ Moorhuhn Spiele. phenomedia publishing GmbH. Retrieved on 2009-02-13.