Interplay Entertainment

This article is about the video game publisher. For other uses, see Interplay (disambiguation).
Interplay Entertainment
Traded as OTC Pink: IPLY
Industry Video games
Founded 1983
Founder Brian Fargo
Troy Worrell,[1]
Jay Patel,[2]
Bill Heineman[3]
Headquarters Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California[4], United States
Key people
Herve Caen
(Chairman and CEO)
Products Baldur's Gate series
Battle Chess
ClayFighter series
Descent series
Earthworm Jim series
Fallout series
Icewind Dale series
MDK series
Planescape: Torment
Number of employees
10 (January 2014)
Divisions Black Isle Studios
Interplay Discovery

Interplay Entertainment Corporation is an American video game developer and publisher, founded in 1983 as Interplay Productions by Brian Fargo, Troy Worrell, Jay Patel and Bill Heineman. As a developer, Interplay is best known as the creator of the original Fallout series and as a publisher for the Baldur's Gate and Descent series.


Interplay Productions

The old Interplay logo, used on the cover of the title Wasteland as taken from Brian Fargo's Twitter account. He states the logo was intended to resemble a person sat at a keyboard.[5]

The company was founded in October 1983[6] as Interplay Productions in southern California with Brian Fargo as CEO, and programmers Jay Patel, Troy Worrell, and Bill Heineman all of who had previously worked with Fargo at a small video game developer called Boone Corporation.[7] 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.[8] These adventures built upon work previously done by Fargo: his first game was the 1981 published Demon's Forge.[6][9]

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.[10] 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, MDK and Wild 9.

Interplay Entertainment

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 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.[11] 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.[12]

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 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.[13] On December 8, 2003, Interplay laid off the entire Black Isle Studios staff.[14]

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.[15][16] 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.

In September 2008 several games of Interplay's catalogue were re-released on the digital distribution service after being non-available in retail distribution for years, for instance Descent + Descent 2.[17][18] Descent 1 and 2 were also released on Steam in February 2014.[19][20]

In 2013, Interplay acquired the remaining rights to the FreeSpace franchise for $7,500 after THQ went to bankruptcy court.[21]


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.

For more details on the Fallout lawsuits, see Fallout (series).

Following the sale of Fallout to Bethesda Softworks, Interplay was granted the rights to create a massively multiplayer online game based on the property under certain conditions. By April 2009, Interplay agreed to stop development on "Fallout Online" and pass on to Bethesda the full rights in exchange for 2 additional million dollars, while retaining the rights to sell and merchandise Fallout, Fallout 2, "Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel", and "Fallout Tactics". This agreement expired on December 31, 2013 with Bethesda now owning full merchandising capabilities of the aforementioned titles. [22]

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,[23] Interplay has yet to collect.


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.[24] Interplay, while also releasing the Descent series to Steam,[25][26][27][28][29] then began to develop FreeSpace Tactics, based on Descent: FreeSpace. Eventually creating another Kickstarter to fund the project, Interplay once again failed and cancelled the crowd funding operation.[30]

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. [31]

2016 intellectual property sale

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.[32]




  1. "Troy Worrell's Linkedin Profile".
  2. "List of founders".
  3. "Interview with Rebecca".
  4. USPTO entry for the Descent game trademark (2008)
  5. Fargo, Brian (2016-08-28). "Brian Fargo's Twitter, 28th August 2016".
  6. 1 2 3 4 Rusel DeMaria, Johnny L. Wilson, "High Score." 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill/Osborne: Emeryville, California, 2004. p.209. ISBN 0-07-223172-6
  7. Rebecca Heineman Interview. Digit Press, 2006.
  8. 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).
  9. Interplay Entertainment at MobyGames
  10. Shay Addams. "if yr cmptr cn rd ths..." In: Computer Entertainment, August 1985, pages 24–27, 76–77.
  11. "Investment in Interplay". Los Angeles Times. May 13, 1999.
  12. "Information on the change of control to Titus". 2002-06-27. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
  13. Powers, Rick (October 9, 2002). "Interplay Delisted from NASDAQ". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  14. Thorsen, Tor (2003-12-08). "Interplay shuts down Black Isle Studios". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2006-06-13. Retrieved May 1, 2006.
  15. iTZKooPA (2007-04-13). "'Fallout' IP Goes To Bethesda Softworks". Retrieved 2007-04-13.
  16. iTZKooPA (2007-08-15). "Interplay Almost Out Of Debt; Searching For 'Fallout'-based MMO Funding". Retrieved 2007-08-22.
  17. Q&A:'s DRM-free downloadable games "'s Interplay catalogue--which includes classics like the Fallout series, MDK 1 and 2, the Descent series, Messiah, Giants: Citizen Kabuto. and Sacrifice." by GameSpot Staff on September 8, 2008
  21. Interplay Buys Freespace Rights For a Cool $7,500
  22. "The Great Fallout Legal Battle Ends Without a Fallout MMO". Kotaku. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  32. Securities, Wedbush. "Interplay Announces Sale of Significant IP Portfolio, Wedbush Securities as Strategic Advisor". Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  33. "14° East". MobyGames. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  34. "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 1997-04-12. Archived from the original on 1997-04-12. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  35. "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 2002-09-21. Archived from the original on 2002-09-21. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  36. "At the Deadline". GamePro. IDG (82): 132. July 1995.
  37. "VR Sports". Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  38. "A Shiny Look for Interplay". GamePro. IDG (83): 116. August 1995.
  39. "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 1998-12-12. Archived from the original on 1998-12-12. Retrieved 2012-10-09.

External links

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