Interplay Entertainment

Last updated

Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Traded as OTC Pink: IPLY
Industry Video game industry
FoundedNovember 1983;35 years ago (1983-11) in Irvine, California, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Hervé Caen (CEO)

Interplay Entertainment Corp. is an American video game developer and publisher based in Los Angeles. The company was founded in November 1983 as Interplay Productions by developers Brian Fargo, Jay Patel, Troy Worrell and Bill Heineman, [lower-alpha 1] as well as investor Chris Wells. As a developer, Interplay is best known as the creator of the Fallout series and as a publisher for the Baldur's Gate and Descent series.

A video game developer is a software developer that specializes in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range from one person who undertakes all tasks to a large business with employee responsibilities split between individual disciplines, such as programming, design, art, testing, etc. Most game development companies have video game publisher financial and usually marketing support. Self-funded developers are known as independent or indie developers and usually make indie games.

A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that have been developed either internally by the publisher or externally by a video game developer. As with book publishers or publishers of DVD movies, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.



Interplay Productions

The logo used for Interplay Productions on the cover of Wasteland; Brian Fargo stated that the logo was intended to resemble a person seated in front of a keyboard. Old Interplay Logo.jpg
The logo used for Interplay Productions on the cover of Wasteland ; Brian Fargo stated that the logo was intended to resemble a person seated in front of a keyboard.

Prior to Interplay, the company's founding developers, Brian Fargo, Troy Worrell, Jay Patel and Bill Heineman, [lower-alpha 1] worked for Boone Corporation, a video game developer based in California. [4] When Boone eventually folded, the four got together with investor Chris Wells and, believing they could create a company that was better than Boone, founded Interplay in November 1983. [4] [5] The first projects were non-original and consisted of software conversions and even some military work for Loral Corporation. [6] After negotiations with Activision, Interplay entered a US$100,000 contract to produce three illustrated text adventures for them. [6] 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. [6]

Brian Fargo American video game producer and developer

Frank Brian Fargo is an American video game designer, producer, programmer and executive, and founder of Interplay Entertainment, inXile Entertainment and Robot Cache.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Loral Corporation was a defense contractor founded in 1948 in New York by William Lorenz and Leon Alpert as Loral Electronics Corporation. The company's name was taken from the first letters of each founder's surname.

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. [7] 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.[ citation needed ]

In adventure games, a text parser takes typed input from the player and simplifies it to something the game can understand. Usually, words with the same meaning are turned into the same word and certain filler words are dropped.

<i>Tass Times in Tonetown</i> 1986 video game

Tass Times in Tonetown is a 1986 adventure game by Activision. It was written by veteran Infocom designer Michael Berlyn and his long-time collaborator Muffy McClung Berlyn, and programmed by Bill Heineman of Interplay in cooperation with Brainwave Creations.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

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 Entertainment System 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 included Carmageddon , Fragile Allegiance , Hardwar and Redneck Rampage .[ citation needed ]

<i>Neuromancer</i> (video game) video game

Neuromancer is an adventure video game developed by Interplay Productions and published by Mediagenic. It was released in 1988 for the Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Commodore 64, and MS-DOS. It was loosely based on William Gibson's 1984 novel of the same name and set within both the fictional "real world" and the extensively realized and detailed world of cyberspace. It has a soundtrack based on the Devo song "Some Things Never Change" from their album Total Devo. The gaming rights at the time were owned by Timothy Leary, who brought the project to Interplay to develop.

<i>Battle Chess</i> chess-playing video game

Battle Chess is a computer game version of chess in which the chess pieces come to life and battle one another when capturing. It was originally developed and released by Interplay Entertainment for the Amiga in 1988 and subsequently on many other systems, including 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, Acorn Archimedes, Amiga CD32, Amiga CDTV, Apple IIGS, Apple IIe, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, FM Towns, NES, Mac OS, NEC PC-9801, X68000 and Microsoft Windows. In 1991, Battle Chess Enhanced was released by Interplay for the PC, featuring improved VGA graphics and a symphonic musical score that played from the CD-ROM.

<i>Descent</i> (1995 video game) 1995 video game developed by Parallax Software

Descent is a 3D spacecraft-based first-person shooter video game developed by Parallax Software and released by Interplay in for DOS and Macintosh, and later for PlayStation in 1996. It is set out in the Solar System, where the player is cast as the Material Defender, a mercenary hired by the Post Terran Mining Corporation (PTMC), to eliminate the terrestrial threat of a mysterious computer virus infecting the corporation's off-world mining robots. The player is sent to a series of mines, where they must locate and destroy the mine's power reactor and escape the blast from sequential self-destruction, notably taking advantage of the six degrees of freedom in a zero-gravity environment and defeating any opposing robots along the way. The game also supports online play, where players can opt to compete in deathmatches or its variants or cooperate to take on the robots.

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, MDK and Wild 9 .[ citation needed ]

<i>Fallout</i> (video game) 1997 video game

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game is an open-world turn-based role-playing video game developed and published by Interplay Productions in 1997. The game has a post-apocalyptic and retro-futuristic setting, in the aftermath of a global nuclear war in an alternate history timeline mid-22nd century. The protagonist of Fallout is an inhabitant of a Vault, long-term shelters, who is tasked to find a replacement Water Chip and save their Vault.

Black Isle Studios American game developer

Black Isle Studios was a division of the developer and publisher Interplay Entertainment that developed role-playing video games. It also published several games from other developers.

<i>Fallout 2</i> video game

Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game is a turn-based role-playing open world video game developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Productions in September 1998. While featuring a considerably larger game world and a far more extensive storyline, it largely uses similar graphics and game mechanics to those of Fallout.

Interplay Entertainment

By 1998, the financial situation at Interplay was dire and the company was in bankruptcy court. To avert bankruptcy, Interplay went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the name Interplay Entertainment. [8]

The Nasdaq Stock Market is an American stock exchange. It is the second-largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization, behind only the New York Stock Exchange located in the same city. The exchange platform is owned by Nasdaq, Inc., which also owns the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic stock market network and several U.S. stock and options exchanges.

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. [9] Interplay also owned half of the UK based publisher Virgin Interactive with Titus owning half of the company, with this Interplay would be able to publish Virgin's games in North America. Even though Interplay released critically acclaimed games such as Descent 3 and FreeSpace 2 the company reported several additional quarters of losses.[ citation needed ]

By 2001, Titus Software completed its acquisition of majority control of Interplay. Immediately afterwards, they shed most of Interplay's publisher functions and signed a long-term agreement under which Vivendi Universal would publish Interplay's games. Eventually, Interplay founder Brian Fargo departed at the start of 2002 to found InXile Entertainment as Fargo's plan to change Interplay's main focus from PC gaming to console gaming failed. [10]

Herve Caen took over the role of CEO to perform triage and made several unpopular but arguably necessary decisions to cancel various projects, in order to save the company. Interplay sold Shiny Entertainment to Infogrames 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. [11] In 2002, Interplay's European operations were completely sold to Titus Software, which included their share of Virgin Interactive, which Titus renamed to Avalon Interactive in August 2003. With this, Titus had complete control over publishing and distributing Interplay's games in Europe under the Avalon Interactive name. On December 8, 2003, Interplay laid off the entire Black Isle Studios staff. [12] The company was also involved in issues including debt. Feargus Urquhart later left Black Isle Studios and Interplay suffered a loss of 20 million USD in that year. [13]

In 2005, Titus Software filed for bankruptcy and closed down all their assets which Interplay acquired parts of. The bankruptcy of Titus led to Interplay being burdened with debt. Interplay faced bankruptcy again and was brought to bankruptcy court in 2006. To pay off creditors, the company altered its licensing agreement with Bethesda Software and then sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda Softworks in 2007. [14] [15]

In September 2008, several games from Interplay's catalog were re-released on the digital distribution service after being unavailable in retail distribution for years. [16]

In August 2013, Interplay acquired the remaining rights to the FreeSpace franchise for $7,500 after THQ went to bankruptcy court. [17]


In 2003 and 2004 Snowblind Studios and Interplay Entertainment were engaged in a dispute regarding the Dark Alliance Engine for Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel , Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II, and the GameCube version of the original Dark Alliance. The dispute was resolved and Interplay would be allowed to work with materials already using the Dark Alliance Engine.[ citation needed ]

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. [18]

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.


Following the victory over Topware, Interplay began working on releasing a new version of Battle Chess for the PC. Battle Chess: Game of Kings , initially developed by Subdued Software, marked Interplay's first Kickstarter with a goal of $100,000. Ultimately, Interplay failed to reach the goal and the project was placed on hiatus following the closure of Subdued Software. Eventually, after handing the project off to a different studio, Olde Skuul, the project was finished and released on Steam. [19] Interplay, while also releasing the Descent series to Steam, [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] then began to develop FreeSpace Tactics , based on Descent: FreeSpace . Eventually creating another Kickstarter to fund the project, Interplay once again failed and canceled the crowdfunding operation. [25]

Interplay's interest in the Descent series eventually resulted in them licensing the name out to Descendent Studios. In March 2015 Descendent Studios launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a Descent prequel titled Descent: Underground . On April 10, 2015, Descent: Underground's campaign finished successfully, raising $601,773 on a goal of $600,000; this marked the first successful Kickstarter for an Interplay-owned property. [26]

Recent events

On September 7, 2016, a press release was published on Nasdaq Newswire reporting that Interplay will be selling their library of intellectual properties, including video game assets. The sale included 70 titles and "dozens of characters." Investment firm Wedbush Securities is orchestrating the sale. [27]



Defunct studios


  1. 1 2 3 In 2003, Heineman came out as a transgender woman and changed her given name from William Salvador ("Bill") to Rebecca Ann ("Becky"). [1] [2]

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<i>Fallout</i> (series) Series of post-apocalyptic role-playing video games

Fallout is a series of post-apocalyptic role-playing video games created by Interplay Entertainment. The series is set during the 22nd and 23rd centuries, and its atompunk retrofuturistic setting and artwork are influenced by the post-war culture of 1950s America, with its combination of hope for the promises of technology and the lurking fear of nuclear annihilation. A forerunner for Fallout is Wasteland, a 1988 game developed by Interplay Productions to which the series is regarded as a spiritual successor.

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Chris Avellone American video game designer

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<i>Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance II</i> video game

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