interplay n : reciprocal action and reaction
- to interact
HistoryThe company was founded as Interplay Productions, Inc. in Southern California in 1983 with Brian Fargo as president and three programmers, Jay Patel, Troy Worrell and Bill Heineman. Its original staff came from former employees of a small video game developer called Boone Corporation. Interplay made a name for itself as a quality computer game developer with the role-playing games The Bard's Tale and Wasteland, which 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 1993, Interplay published the hit game Descent, developed by startup Parallax Software.
The company published several notable Star Trek games, including Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and Star Trek: Judgment Rites. These games had later CD-ROM editions released with the original Star Trek cast providing voices. Interplay also published the significant 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, with a script written by Star Trek writer Dorothy Fontana; however this title was never completed.
In 1997, Interplay developed and released Fallout, a successful and critically-acclaimed role-playing game set in a retro-futuristic post-apocalyptic setting. Black Isle Studios, an in house developer, followed with the sequel, Fallout 2. The most successful subsequent Interplay franchise was probably Baldur's Gate, a Dungeons & Dragons'' game that was developed by Bioware and spawned a successful sequel and several expansion packs. Over the years, Interplay's most successful titles were PC games. The company published a few notable console games, such as ClayFighter, Rock 'N Roll Racing, The Lost Vikings, and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, but Interplay was never quite able to establish a long-lasting console franchise.
Another popular franchise was the FreeSpace series.
Interplay attempted to get several of its games made into movies through its Interplay Films branch, notably Descent, Redneck Rampage, Carmageddon, Earthworm Jim, and Fallout, but no Interplay property was ever made into a film.
Financial troublesInterplay went public, with shares sold on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange, in 1998, changing its name to "Interplay Entertainment Corp." The company then reported several years of losses, as titles such as Descent³ and FreeSpace 2 had lackluster sales, despite being critically acclaimed.
In 2002, Interplay shed most of its publisher functions and signed a long-term agreement by which Vivendi Universal would publish Interplay's games. Immediately afterwards, French publisher Titus Interactive completed its acquisition of majority control of the company, and founder Brian Fargo departed. However, Titus went through financial and legal difficulties, culminating in a close of business in 2004. Titus left many of its employees, both local and the international wholly owned developers, without redundancy or owed back-pay, and left creditors with large debts. Titus CEO Herve Caen then assumed the same capacity at Interplay.
In 2002, Interplay's shares were delisted from the NASDAQ due to the company's low share price.
ShutdownIn 2004, the company was given an eviction notice by its landlord for non-payment of rent, and was briefly shut down by the California government for non-payment of workers' paychecks. This, combined with sketchy and sporadic information from Interplay representatives, led many in the game industry to speculate that Interplay had shut down. In fact, the company relocated to a small office and continued to operate, issuing occasional press releases about new publishing deals or the sale of an IP to another publisher. The company's web site shut down around this time.
In Summer 2005, the Interplay website re-launched with a logo and three links: "About Interplay", "SEC Filings/Financial", "Investor Relations".
In Interplay's 10-K SEC filing made on June 3, 2005, it was revealed under the "Internal Product Development" section that in May 2004, Interplay was forced to close all of their internal development studios due to their inability to meet their payroll obligations in a timely manner. All internally-developed titles were canceled and there are no internally-developed titles being developed. However, under "External Product Development" it was revealed that on December 31, 2004, Interplay had one title being developed by an unnamed third party developer. The title is tentatively being called Ballerium. Majorem, the apparent developer of the title, has since revealed that development of Ballerium (which was intended to be a MMO-RTS) has been suspended as the agreement that was to provide Majorem with the means to launch the title in the summer of 2005 could not be realized. Majorem also noted that this was "apparently due to Interplay's inability to raise the required funding to turn Majorem's technology into a game." Majorem is currently accepting new offers for the licensing of its MMO-RTS technology as well as its almost finished game.
In Interplay's 10-Q SEC filing made on June 21, 2005, it was revealed that under "Commitments and Contingencies" that Interplay Productions has multiple legal proceedings filed against it and has nearly USD$11 million in debt. Of interest is that Interplay received a notice from the IRS stating that they owe approximately $117,000 in payroll tax penalties and that Interplay was fined by the California Labor Board $10,000 for failure to meet payroll obligations and that an August 2005 trial date was set, and that Interplay's "general liability, auto, fiduciary liability, workers compensation and employment practices liability, have been canceled, however Interplay has entered into a new workers compensation insurance plan, Interplay is appealing a separate California Board of Labor fine of $79,000 for having lost their workers compensation plan for a period of time". Under "Contractual Obligations" it is revealed that Interplay does not have a headquarters at present because Interplay, in 2004, forfeited its lease and vacated its office space in Irvine, California.
Fallout online gameIn a securities filing with the U.S. government made on November 30 2006, an attached presentation proposed a massively multiplayer online game based on the Fallout computer game franchise, which the company previously published. The presentation projected that the company would need investment of seventy-five million U.S. dollars to complete the project, with production intended to begin January 2007 and a launch date of 2010. The filing did not address the proposal in the context of the company's financial debt. In April 2007 Bethesda Softworks announced that they had purchased the rights to the Fallout franchise for a reported $5.75 million. The deal made Bethesda the sole owner of the Fallout intellectual property with Interplay becoming a licensee so they can continue to pursue a Fallout MMO.
In Interplay's latest 8-K filing with the U.S. Government made on April 12, 2007, an attached exhibit 10.49 has more updated information on Interplay's planned Fallout MMOG. Specific requirements were stated in the agreement that if not met, Interplay would immediately forfeit its license rights for Fallout. Neither the filing nor the exhibit specifies any details of how Interplay will start development within 24 months of April 2007 or how it will be able to acquire the minimum financing requirement of US$30 million, seemingly a difficult task for a company in such dire financial straits.
As part of a 2007 quarterly report Interplay CEO Herve Caen said that the company is "focused on securing funding for development of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) based on the popular Fallout franchise."
As part of one of their 2007 quarterly reports Interplay announced that their revenues had risen astronomically due almost entirely to the sale of their Fallout intellectual property to Bethesda Softworks back in mid-April. With the sale and other changes the company is now almost debt free, with its debt at a reported $3 million today compared to the $59 million from 2001.
GameSpot reported on November 13, 2007 that Interplay, using money from its sale of the Fallout IP to Bethesda Softworks, is going to restart its in-house game development studio and Interplay has plans on developing sequels to some of its classic IPs contingent on if it can secure financing. Gamespot stated:
As of March 21, 2008 Interplay now has a "Coming soon" graphic on their website.
Interplay Entertainment Corp. (OTC Bulletin Board: IPLY) recently announced its earnings for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007, and its plan for the company going forward.
On April 9, 2008, Interplay confirmed that they will undertake sequels for Dark Alliance, Earthworm Jim, Descent and MDK series. They have also announced production of a Fallout MMO.
They later announced that they would support the Wii Virtual Console, with Sega Genesis versions of Earthworm Jim, Earthworm Jim 2, Boogerman and Clayfighter.
On April 22, 2008 Interplay announced that Earthworm Jim 4 is in development with original creator, Doug TenNapel, as a creative consultant. No platform or release date has been set. In addition to the new game, TenNapel will also develop a new animated series and a feature film based on the property.
- Earthworm Jim 4 (TBA)
- Descent 4 (TBA)
- MDK3 (TBA)
- Fallout MMO (TBA)
- Earthworm Jim (Virtual Console, Sega Genesis Version) (TBA)
- Earthworm Jim 2 (Virtual Console, Sega Genesis Version) (TBA)
- Boogerman (Virtual Console, Sega Genesis Version) (TBA)
- Clayfighter (Virtual Console, Sega Genesis Version) (TBA)
interplay in German: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in French: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in Italian: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in Norwegian: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in Polish: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in Portuguese: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in Russian: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in Finnish: Interplay Entertainment
interplay in Swedish: Interplay Entertainment
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