"By Gamers, For Gamers"
|Traded as||OTC Pink: IPLY|
|Headquarters||Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Key people||Herve Caen
(Chairman and CEO)
|Products||Baldur's Gate series
Battle Chess series
Earthworm Jim series
Icewind Dale series
|Employees||10 (January 2014)|
|Divisions||Black Isle Studios
Interplay Entertainment Corporation is an American video game developer and publisher, founded in 1983 as Interplay Productions by Brian Fargo. As a developer, Interplay is best known as the creator of the original Fallout series and as a publisher, Interplay is best known for the Baldur's Gate and Descent series.
The company was founded in October 1983 as Interplay Productions in southern California with Brian Fargo as CEO. The first employees were the programmers Jay Patel, Troy Worrell, and Bill Heineman who had previously worked with Fargo at a small video game developer called Boone Corporation. The first projects were non-original and consisted of software conversions and even some military work for Loral Corporation. After negotiations with Activision, Interplay entered a US$100,000 contract to produce three illustrated text adventures for them. Published in 1984, Mindshadow is loosely based on Robert Ludlum's Bourne Identity while The Tracer Sanction puts the player in the role of an interplanetary secret agent. Borrowed Time which features a script by Arnie Katz' Subway Software followed in 1985. These adventures built upon work previously done by Fargo: his first game was the 1981 published Demon's Forge.
Interplay's parser was developed by Fargo and an associate and in one version understands about 250 nouns and 200 verbs as well as prepositions and indirect objects. In 1986, Tass Times in Tonetown followed. Interplay made a name for itself as a quality developer of role-playing video games with the three-part series The Bard's Tale (1985–1988), critically acclaimed Wasteland (1988) and Dragon Wars (1989). All of them were published by Electronic Arts.
Interplay started publishing its own games, starting with Neuromancer and Battle Chess, in 1988, and then moved on to publish and distribute games from other companies, while continuing internal game development. In 1995, Interplay published the hit game Descent, developed by startup Parallax Software. Interplay published several Star Trek video games, including Star Trek: 25th Anniversary for computers and for Nintendo and Star Trek: Judgment Rites. These games had later CD-ROM editions released with the original Star Trek cast providing voices. Interplay also published Starfleet Academy and Klingon Academy games, and Starfleet Command series, beginning with Star Trek: Starfleet Command. Another game, Star Trek: Secret of Vulcan Fury, was in development in the late 1990s but was never completed and much of its staff laid off due to budgetary cuts prompted by various factors. In 1995, after several years of delays, Interplay finally published its role-playing game Stonekeep. Other PC games released during the mid-to-late 1990s games included Carmageddon, Fragile Allegiance, Hardwar and Redneck Rampage.
In 1997, Interplay developed and released Fallout, a successful and critically acclaimed role-playing video game set in a retro-futuristic post-apocalyptic setting. Black Isle Studios, a newly created in-house developer, followed with the sequel, Fallout 2, in 1998. Another successful subsequent Interplay franchise was Baldur's Gate, a Dungeons & Dragons game that was developed by BioWare and which spawned a successful expansion, sequel and spin-off series. The spin-off series started with Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance; the game's success forged a sequel as well. Aside from Dark Alliance, Interplay published a few notable console series such as Loaded and the fighting game series ClayFighter and the games by Shiny Entertainment, Murder Death Kill and Wild 9.
By 1998 the financial situation at Interplay was dire and the company was in bankruptcy court. To avert bankruptcy Interplay went public in order to raise capital and pay off debt. Interplay was successful in its public offering and avoided bankruptcy. Shares were sold on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange and the Interplay changed its name to Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Interplay continued to endure losses under Brian Fargo due to increased competition, less than stellar returns on Interplay’s sports division and the lack of console titles. This forced Interplay to seek additional funding two years later with an investment from Titus Software, a Paris-based game company. Titus agreed to invest 25 million dollars in Interplay and a few months later this was followed up by an additional 10 million investment. Despite releasing critically acclaimed games such as Descent 3 and FreeSpace 2 the company then reported several additional quarters of losses.
By 2001, Titus Software completed its acquisition of majority control of Interplay. Immediately afterwards, they shed most of Interplays publisher functions and signed a long-term agreement under which Vivendi Universal would publish Interplay's games. Interplay founder Brian Fargo eventually departed to found InXile Entertainment as Fargo's plan to change Interplay's main focus from PC gaming to console gaming failed.
Herve Caen took over the role of CEO to perform triage and made several unpopular but arguably necessary decisions to cancel various projects. Interplay then sold Shiny Entertainment and several game properties while closing BlueSky Software. Due to a low share price, Interplay's shares were delisted from the NASDAQ in 2002 and now trade on the over the counter (OTC) market. On December 8, 2003, Interplay laid off the entire Black Isle Studios staff.
Burdened with debt, Interplay faced bankruptcy again and was brought to bankruptcy court in 2006. In order to pay off creditors the company altered its licensing agreement with Bethesda Software and then sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda Softworks in 2007. Interplay retained back-licensing rights to Fallout Online and the rights to sell the original Fallout games. Interplay began development of Fallout Online in 2007. Following a lengthy lawsuit by Bethesda Softworks, both sides agreed to a settlement where Interplay would receive 2 million dollars and the rights to sell the original Fallout games for a limited time.
Black Isle Studios was reborn On August 22, 2012 with the motto "Our goal has always been to make the world's best RPGs" and the slogan "Black Isle is Back". In 2013, Interplay acquired the remaining rights to the FreeSpace franchise for $7,500 after THQ went to bankruptcy court. In early February 2014 Descent 1 and 2 were released on Steam.
Due to Interplay using the Dark Alliance Engine for Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II, and the GameCube version of the original Dark Alliance without consent from Snowblind Studios, the two studios were engaged in a legal conflict between 2003 and 2004. The lawsuit ended up determining that while Interplay would be allowed to work with materials already using the Dark Alliance Engine, they would not be able to use it for any future games. The lawsuit would have Interplay giving the Baldur's Gate trademark to Atari and the Dark Alliance trademark, albeit temporarily, to Snowblind Studios.
Glutton Creeper Games sued Interplay in 2007 for breach of contract for a Fallout pen-and-paper role-playing game. GCG and Interplay settled the suit for an undisclosed amount in 2009.
Bethesda Softworks sued Interplay in 2009, regarding the Fallout Online license and selling of Fallout Trilogy and sought an injunction to stop development of Fallout Online and sales of Fallout Trilogy. After several trials spanning almost three years, and in exchange for 2 million dollars, Interplay gave to Bethesda full rights for Fallout Online. Interplay's rights to sell and merchandise Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel expired on December 31, 2013.
In 2010, Topware Interactive revealed that they were developing Battle vs. Chess to be published by SouthPeak Games. Interplay sued them and won an injunction to stop sales in the United States. In 2012, Interplay won the case via default and a settlement for $200,000 plus interest was agreed upon on November 15, 2012 but according to PACER, Interplay has yet to collect. Interplay is currently working on releasing a new version of Battle Chess for the PC.
- 14 Degrees East, the strategy division of Interplay, located in Beverly Hills and founded in 1999.
- Black Isle Studios in Orange County, California, started in 1996, closed in 2003 due to financial problems. Reopened nine years later in 2012.
- BlueSky Software in California, started in 1988, closed in 2001.
- Brainstorm in Irvine, California.
- Digital Mayhem, an Interplay development studio that ported Giants: Citizen Kabuto to the PS2 and developed Run Like Hell.
- Interplay Discovery, a subdivision of Interplay aimed at publishing games made by indie developers.
- Interplay Films, a division of Interplay Entertainment, was formed in 1998 and was supposed to develop seven of the company’s most popular video game titles into movies, including Descent, Redneck Rampage and Fallout. Its president was Tom Reed.
- Interplay Sports located in Beverly Hills was the internal sports division at Interplay. The company was previously known as VR Sports until the name change in 1998.
- Shiny Entertainment in Laguna Beach, California, founded in 1993, acquired in 1995, sold to Atari in 2002. It later merged with The Collective, Inc. to form Double Helix Games in 2007.
- Tantrum Entertainment
- Tribal Dreams
- Rusel DeMaria, Johnny L. Wilson, "High Score." 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill/Osborne: Emeryville, California, 2004. p.209. ISBN 0-07-223172-6
- Rebecca Heineman Interview. Digit Press, 2006.
- The contract was factually a 9-product deal, as each of the three adventures was targeted for three platforms: Apple II, Commodore 64 and PC (CGA).
- Interplay Entertainment at MobyGames
- Shay Addams. "if yr cmptr cn rd ths..." In: Computer Entertainment, August 1985, pages 24–27, 76–77.
- "Investment in Interplay". Los Angeles Times. May 13, 1999.
- June 27, 2002 12:33 pm (2002-06-27). "Information on the change of control to Titus". Frictionlessinsight.com. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
- Powers, Rick (October 9, 2002). "Interplay Delisted from NASDAQ". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
- Thorsen, Tor (2003-12-08). "Interplay shuts down Black Isle Studios". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2006-06-13. Retrieved May 1, 2006.
- "'Fallout' IP Goes To Bethesda Softworks". Totalgaming.net. 2007-04-13. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- iTZKooPA (2007-08-15). "Interplay Almost Out Of Debt; Searching For 'Fallout'-based MMO Funding". Totalgaming.net. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
- Interplay Buys Freespace Rights For a Cool $7,500
- "The Great Fallout Legal Battle Ends Without a Fallout MMO". Kotaku. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- [dead link]
- "14° East". MobyGames. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 1997-04-12. Archived from the original on 1997-04-12. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 2002-09-21. Archived from the original on 2002-09-21. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- [dead link]
- "VR Sports". Answers.com. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 1998-12-12. Archived from the original on 1998-12-12. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- [dead link]