Total Entertainment Network

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
T E Network, Inc.
  • Optigon Interactive
  • Outland
FoundedJune 1995; 28 years ago (1995-06)
DefunctOctober 1999 (1999-10), Inc.
United States

Total Entertainment Network (TEN) was an online gaming service that existed from September 1996[1] until October 1999.[2] T E Network, Inc., which created and operated the TEN service, was formed from the merger[3] of Optigon Interactive and Outland[4] in June 1995 when they received their first round of venture capital funding from Vinod Khosla, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.


Total Entertainment Network was the first online gaming provider to go live.[5] Operating out of San Francisco,[6] the service offered PC game players a place to play DOS and Windows-based games online with and against other players, to chat, to download game-related content, and to compete for high scores and to win tournaments. The service was bundled with many PC games and offered as a subscription service.[6] The games supported on TEN include Duke Nukem 3D,[7] NASCAR Racing Online Series,[8] Quake,[9] Command & Conquer,[10] Panzer General,[10] and Big Red Racing.[11]

Many online games, especially PC games adapted for online game play, require low and consistent latency to play well. It was a major challenge circa 1996 for consumers to find consistent low-latency connections to central servers or to other game players because of the latency intrinsic to dial-up modems and the heavy congestion at the Internet peering points. T E Network, Inc. partnered with Concentric Network Corporation to offer consumers Internet access dial-up numbers that would provide the reliable low latencies they needed to play online games.[12] Concentric optimized their network and their dial-up technology for the TEN service. Concentric also received venture capital financing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Even with the combined revenues of subscriptions and advertising, TEN remained unprofitable, failing to reach the critical mass numbers of subscribers needed to cover their costs.[13][14] After the success of Blizzard Entertainment's free service for Diablo and their claim that offering online play as a feature of the game boosted retail sales by 10%, PC game publishers started following Blizzard's lead and offering free online game play. This undermined the subscription business model of TEN and their strategy to be the exclusive place to play popular PC games online. As Internet advertising was starting to gain traction, T E Network decided to focus on easy-to-access and easy-to-play browser-based games that would appeal to a broad audience and attract enough unique users to drive an advertising-based business model. T E Network, Inc. became, Inc. to pursue this new strategy.[14]

Advertisement for TEN when you close the game, Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition.

TEN games[edit]

Earlier Total Entertainment Network service from Optigon Interactive[edit]

The first Total Entertainment Network (TEN) service was an online gaming network and community portal developed by Optigon Interactive. Optigon Interactive was founded by Daniel Goldman and Janice Linden-Reed in 1991 and launched a beta nationally in 1994 via Sprint's X.25 dial-up network.[16] The brand was developed in conjunction with Alan Buder, from Colossal Picture, and Michael Lipscomb. It was an online service with a DOS client that offered Chess, Checkers, SimCity, email, and chat[1]. The entire executive management team Optigon went on to become the executive management team for TE Network, joined by CTO David King from Outland.

In 1996 TEN hosted a first of its kind, nationally participated in "online tournament" rewarding the champions with cash and prizes sparking an immediate surge in online gaming. Some of the first prizes were $500 cash and a lifetime membership to the service. The only Duke tournament was won by one of the first cyber athletes, Christopher S Carpentier, aka "Creamator", who battled over 14 thousand entries to claim the title of “One True Duke!” Most of these newly declared cyber athletes later went on to the PGL "Professional Gamers League" after TEN converted its business model to Pogo. Organizations like the PGL enhanced the awards, and in 1997 Dennis Fong, also known as Thresh, a professional gamer, won John Carmack's Ferrari at the Red Annihilation tournament. During his career as a professional gamer, it is believed that he made over US$100,000 in endorsements alone.


The Total Entertainment Network was shutdown in October 1999[2] due to the rapid development of online gaming services during the time. From the closure, TEN transformed into and then was acquired by Electronic Arts in 2001.[2] The Total Entertainment Network website in 1997 can still be explored and viewed at

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "TEN goes commercial; Leading interactive entertainment network for game players offers special introductory pricing to first 25,000 members," Business Wire Sep. 23, 1996. Available online at
  2. ^ a b c "History of the Total Entertainment Network Gaming Service". Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  3. ^ "Planet Optigon, Outland to merge and form "The Total Entertainment Network"; Online Entertainment companies merge, receive venture financing from Kleiner Perkins, Caulfield & Byers," Business Wire Apr. 24, 1995. Available online at
  4. ^ Outland
  5. ^ Svenson, Christian (December 1996). "TEN Goes Live". Next Generation. No. 24. Imagine Media. p. 28.
  6. ^ a b "Ten-hut!". GamePro. No. 101. IDG. February 1997. pp. 30, 32.
  7. ^ "3D Realms Titles Go Exclusively to TEN for 5 Years; TEN to be exclusive online partner for all upcoming titles, including Duke Nukem 3D". Business Wire. March 19, 1996.
  8. ^ "NASCAR Speeds onto the Internet: TEN Puts Pedal to the Metal with Sierra On-Line and NASCAR". Business Wire. December 3, 1996.
  9. ^ "TEN Shakes Up the Gaming World With Addition of QUAKE; First commercial Internet entertainment network adds to list of high-quality content". Business Wire. September 30, 1996.
  10. ^ a b "A Perfect TEN?". GamePro. No. 100. IDG. January 1997. p. 36.
  11. ^ "TEN Revs Its Engines with Big Red Racing; Leading interactive entertainment network for game players lines up more hit content". Business Wire. September 6, 1996.
  12. ^ "TEN and Concentric Forge Alliance to Provide Fastest Possible National Gaming Network". Business Wire. May 16, 1996.
  13. ^ Svensson, Christian (August 1997). "Joyriding". Next Generation. No. 32. Imagine Media. p. 26.
  14. ^ a b "TEN Becomes Bingo Beats Quake". Wall Street Journal Interactive. October 1999.
  15. ^ Slizewski, Tom (February 1998). "The next big thing–Magic Online". InQuest. No. 34. Wizard Entertainment. p. 12.
  16. ^ "Showdown at the Virtual Corral," San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 5, 1995. Available online at

External links[edit]