The 3DO Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The 3DO Company
Industry Video games
Fate Bankruptcy
Founded 1991
Defunct May 2003
Headquarters Redwood City, California, U.S.
Key people
Trip Hawkins, RJ Mical
Subsidiaries New World Computing
Slogan We're here to play.

The 3DO Company (formerly THDO on the NASDAQ stock exchange), also known as 3DO (short for three-dimensional operating system), was a video game company. It was founded in 1991 under the name SMSG, Inc. (for San Mateo Software Group) by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins in a partnership with seven companies, including LG, Matsushita (now Panasonic), AT&T Corporation, MCA, Time Warner and Electronic Arts. After 3DO's flagship video game console, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, failed in the marketplace, the company exited the hardware business and became a third-party video game developer. It went bankrupt in 2003 due to poor sales of its games. Its headquarters were in Redwood City, California in the San Francisco Bay Area.[1]


Console developer[edit]

Panasonic 3DO console

When the company was first founded, its original objective was to create a next-generation CD-based video game system called the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, which would be manufactured by various partners and licensees; 3DO would collect a royalty on each console sold and on each game manufactured. For game publishers, 3DO's $3 royalty per sold game was very low compared to the royalties Nintendo and Sega collected from game sales on their consoles. The launch of the console in October 1993 was well-promoted, with a great deal of attention in the mass media as part of the "multimedia wave" in the computer world.

The 3DO console launched in October 1993 at the price of $699.[2] Poor console and game sales trumped the enticingly low royalty rate and proved a fatal flaw. While 3DO's business model attracted game publishers with its low royalty rates, it resulted in the console selling for a price higher than the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis combined, hampering sales. While companies that manufactured and sold their own consoles could sell them, at a loss, for a competitive price, making up for lost profit through royalties collected from game publishers, the 3DO's manufacturers, not collecting any money from game publishers, and owing royalties to the 3DO Company, had to sell the console for a profit, resulting in high prices.[3] As the console failed to compete with its cheaper competitors, game developers and publishers, while initially attracted by low royalties, dropped support for the console as its games failed to sell. Stock in the 3DO Company dropped from over $37 per share in November 1993 to $23 per share in late December.[4] Though the company's financial figures dramatically improved in the fiscal year ending March 1995, with revenues nearly triple that of the previous fiscal year, they were still operating at a loss.[5] In October 1995, The 3DO Company sold its next generation console, M2, to Matsushita, and changed its business to develop and publish games for other game consoles and PC.

Third-party developer[edit]

After abandoning the 3DO console, the company acquired Cyclone Studios, Archetype Interactive and New World Computing. The company's biggest hit was its series of Army Men games, featuring generic green plastic soldier toys. Its Might and Magic and especially Heroes of Might and Magic series from subsidiary New World Computing were perhaps the most popular among their games at the time of release. During the late 1990s, the company published one of the first 3D MMORPGs: Meridian 59, which survives to this day in the hands of some of the game's original developers.

After struggling for several years, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2003.[6] Employees were laid off without pay, and the company's game brands and other intellectual properties were sold to rivals like Microsoft, Namco, Crave and Ubisoft, and also to founder Trip Hawkins, who paid $405,000 for rights to some old brands and the company's "Internet patent portfolio". Hawkins went on to found Digital Chocolate, a mobile-based gaming company.

3DO Rating System[edit]

The 3DO Rating System was a rating system created by The 3DO Company and used on games released for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. The rating system, which went into use in March 1994, uses the following four categories:[7]

  • E - Everyone
  • 12 - Guidance for age 12 & under
  • 17 - Guidance for age 17 & under
  • AO - Adults Only

These ratings would appear on the lower front and back of the packaging, while the back of the packaging also specified what content was present in the game. In late 1994, the majority of 3DO's competitors signed on with a new rating system from the Entertainment Software Rating Board; despite this, the 3DO Company opted to continue providing their own rating system, leaving publishers of 3DO games to decide whether to use the 3DO Rating System or the new ESRB ratings.[8] The 3DO rating for each game was designated voluntarily by the game's publisher,[7] in contrast to the ESRB ratings, which were determined independently by the ESRB.


  1. ^ "Legal notices." 3DO Company. March 31, 2001. Retrieved on November 3, 2012. "The 3DO Company, 100 Cardinal Way, Redwood City, CA 94063."
  2. ^ Ramsay, M. (2012). Trip Hawkins. Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play (pp. 1-15). New York: Apress.
  3. ^ Matthews, Will (December 2013). "Ahead of its Time: A 3DO Retrospective". Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (122): 18–29. 
  4. ^ "3DO Sales Slow, Stock Suffers". GamePro (IDG) (66): 186. March 1994. 
  5. ^ "Tough Year for 3DO". GamePro (IDG) (84): 138–140. September 1995. 
  6. ^ Becker, David (May 29, 2003). "3DO files for bankruptcy". CNET. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  7. ^ a b "Rated E". GamePro (57) (IDG). April 1994. p. 174. 
  8. ^ "Hey, How Do You Rate?". GamePro (68) (IDG). March 1995. p. 10. 

External links[edit]