|Formerly||Interplay Productions (1983–1998)|
|Expert Market: IPLY|
|Founded||October 1983Irvine, California, USin|
|Hervé Caen (CEO)|
|Revenue||1,380,000 United States dollar (2010)|
|1,030,000 United States dollar (2010)|
Interplay Entertainment Corp. is an American video game developer and publisher based in Los Angeles. The company was founded in 1983 as Interplay Productions by developers Brian Fargo, Jay Patel, Troy Worrell, and Rebecca Heineman, 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.
Prior to Interplay, the company's founding developers—Brian Fargo, Troy Worrell, Jay Patel, and Rebecca Heineman—worked for Boone Corporation, a video game developer based in California. 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 October 1983. The first projects were non-original and consisted of software conversions and even some military work for Loral Corporation. After negotiations with Activision, Interplay entered a US$100,000 contract to produce three illustrated text adventures for them. 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.
The same year, Interplay Productions, then contracted out by Electronic Arts, ported EA's Racing Destruction Set to the Atari 8-bit family of computers. The conversion, entirely coded by Rebecca Heineman, was released in 1986 via Electronic Arts for the United States and Ariolasoft for the European market.
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. 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, beginning 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.
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.
In 1998, Interplay's financial issues went under dire with the company threatened to be placed under bankruptcy due to status in the banktruptcy court. To avert bankruptcy, Interplay went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the name Interplay Entertainment.
By 1999, 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. Because of this, the company forced itself to seek additional funding from an outside third-party. On February 17, 1999, the company entered into a distribution agreement with British game publisher Virgin Interactive, where Interplay would acquire a 43.9% stake (initially a 49.9% stake) in the company and allow Virgin to exclusively distribute their titles in Europe, effectively replacing Interplay's own distribution arm in the region. Interplay also announced that they would distribute Virgin Interactive's titles in North America and several other territories including South America and Japan. On March 23, 1999, it was announced that the Paris-based Titus Interactive had invested $10 million in the publisher with a considered chance of purchasing Universal Pictures' stake in Interplay, which would allow Titus to own 34% of the company's shares and allow for Interplay to distribute Titus' products in North America. By May, $25 million was invested by Titus, which within a few months was increased by another $10 million. By August, Titus owned 57% of Interplay's shares.
On 16 April 2001, Titus announced they had expanded their control shares in Interplay to 72.5%. On the same day, they announced they had purchased Interplay's stake in Virgin Interactive, effectively making the latter a fully-owned subsidiary of Titus, which was to allow the three companies to simplify their European distribution arms under the singular Virgin Interactive umbrella. On August 28, Titus announced that they had appointed Vivendi Universal Publishing as Interplay's North American distributor in order for Interplay to focus more on development. Prior to this, Titus resecured full distribution rights to its titles in North America, which were not counted for as part of the Vivendi Universal deal. On September 27, Interplay announced that Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Giants: Citizen Kabuto would become the first titles under the new agreement. On November 29, 2001, BioWare announced that they had ended their partnership with Interplay, citifying unpaid royalties and Titus sublicensing distribution to third-parties for the reason. BioWare took Neverwinter Nights with them, with Infogrames purchasing worldwide publishing rights to the title in January 2002, while BioWare eventually reconsidered with Interplay.
On January 24, 2002, Interplay founder and CEO Brian Fargo resigned from the company, following Interplay's failed move to expand to console gaming as well as conflictions with Titus Interactive. He later went on to found InXile Entertainment. Titus' co-founder Hervé Caen took over as Interplay's new CEO and began a range of several unpopular but arguably necessary decisions to cancel various projects, in order to save the company. In April 2002, the company sold Shiny Entertainment to Infogrames for $47 million, which at turn also included a then-upcoming video game based on The Matrix as well as the video game rights to the property transferring over. 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.
The company continued to struggle throughout 2003 following an assortment of poorly-selling console titles. On September 29, 2003, the company was entered into a lawsuit with Vivendi Universal over alleged breaches of their partnership and a failure of payment. This led to Interplay ending their North American distribution deal with Vivendi Universal Games. On December 8, 2003, Interplay closed down Black Isle Studios and laid off their entire staff. The company was also involved in issues including debt. Feargus Urquhart later left Black Isle Studios and Interplay suffered a loss of US$20 million in that year.
By June 2004, Interplay's fate was appearing to show, once employees were showing up locked out of the company's offices and other events ensuring, although Titus' co-founder Eric Caen denied that Interplay was closing, deeming them as being "Still There". However, by June 7, it was reported that several California labor investigators had forcefully shut down Interplay's offices over unpaid royalties to developers, unpaid employees and not issuing any health insurance to them. By June 9, Interplay's offices had reopened after Herve Caen secured the funds to pay the insurance for Interplay's staff. On the same day, Titus Interactive announced they were declaring bankruptcy, which made Interplay's future uncertain. In July, they sold the Redneck Rampage franchise to Vivendi Universal Games for $300,000, and in October, licensed the rights to the Fallout franchise to Bethesda Softworks under a three-game deal, while Interplay would retain ownership of the franchise as well as full rights to an MMO title – Fallout Online. By then, Interplay's financial issues began to worsen.
In January 2005, Titus Interactive was officially declared bankrupt and closed down all its French operations effectively. Interplay soon purchased Titus' former assets and led to the company being burdened with debt.
In 2006, Interplay was brought up to the bankruptcy court once again in order to avoid the company going out of business.
In April 2007, in order to pay off creditors, the company altered its licensing agreement with Bethesda Softworks and sold the Fallout IP to them.
In September 2008, several games from Interplay's catalog were re-released on the digital distribution service GOG.com after being unavailable in retail distribution for years.
In August 2013, Interplay acquired the remaining rights to the FreeSpace franchise for $7,500 after THQ went to bankruptcy court.
In September 2016, Interplay announced its intent to sell off its intellectual property, composed of 70 games, working together with Wedbush Securities.
Interplay is co-publishing, with 3D Realms, a remaster of Xatrix Entertainment's 1999 game Kingpin: Life of Crime, which was originally published by Interplay. Known as Kingpin: Reloaded, the game will be developed by Slipgate Ironworks. This was announced on January 17, 2020.
In 2021, Interplay, via Black Isle Studios, re-released Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance on modern consoles, and later that year also released a port of it on PC for the first time.
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.
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, Interplay gave Bethesda the 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.
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.
Main article: List of Interplay games
This is a program in which Interplay publishes video games for indie developers. Five games have been released under the program and each is either a platformer or a puzzle video game and is released under digital distribution.