Kesmai was a pioneering game developer and online game publisher, founded in 1981[1] by Kelton Flinn and John Taylor. The company was best known for the combat flight sim Air Warrior on the GEnie online service, one of the first graphical MMOGs, launched in 1987. They also developed an ASCII-based MUD, Island of Kesmai, and empire building game, MegaWars III, which ran on CompuServe, and later, GEnie.

The company was acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in 1994.[2][3] The company continued to develop massively multiplayer games such as Air Warrior 2 and Legends of Kesmai. They distributed their games through AOL and eventually a new gaming service formed with three other publishers, GameStorm.[4]

AOL purchased CompuServe in 1997 and retooled its AOL Games Channel in a way that placed Kesmai unfavorably compared to its own games division, WorldPlay.[5] Kesmai sued AOL for monopolistic practices.[6] The suit was settled out of court with undisclosed terms.[7]

In 1999, the company was sold to Electronic Arts,[8] and the company's studios were subsequently closed in 2001. Upon closure a number of the Kesmai staff went to work for Lodestone Games, also located in Charlottesville, Virginia; while others remained in the former Kesmai offices but became part of and later Maxis East.

Flinn selected the name Kesmai from a set of names that were output by a random name generator that he wrote for in-game use.


Year Title Platform(s) Notes
Developed titles
1982 MegaWars Terminal
1984 MegaWars III Terminal
1988 Air Warrior Terminal
1990 Amiga
1991 Atari ST
1992 CDTV
1992 DOS
1996 MultiPlayer BattleTech: Solaris Microsoft Windows
1997 Air Warrior II Microsoft Windows
Air Warrior III Microsoft Windows
CatchWord Microsoft Windows Assisted Ant Software
Legends of Kesmai Microsoft Windows
1998 Aliens Online Microsoft Windows Assisted Mythic Entertainment
Published titles
1998 Starship Troopers: Battlespace Microsoft Windows
1999 Fierce Harmony Microsoft Windows


  1. ^ "News Corp.'S Kesmai Spins Off Publishing Division -- Launches New Ggames Service, Aries Online Games". September 16, 1996. Archived from the original on February 3, 1999. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  2. ^ Pattie Joy (April 27, 1994). "NEWS CORP. BUYS KESMAI". USA Today.
  3. ^ Ben Potter (April 27, 1994). "News buys top US online games maker". The Age.
  4. ^ John Voland (November 24, 1997). "GAMERS GANGING UP: Four online companies team in GameStorm". Daily Variety.
  5. ^ Svensson, Christian (April 1998). "Joyriding". Next Generation. No. 40. Imagine Media. p. 30.
  6. ^ Craig Menefee (September 30, 1997). "Gamer Firm Kesmai Sues America Online". Newsbytes.
  7. ^ Bob Woods (July 7, 1998). "Kesmai, America Online Settle Lawsuit". Newsbytes.
  8. ^ "Electronic Arts Announces Agreement to Acquire News Corp. Online Game Unit, Kesmai". Business Wire. November 22, 1999. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2021 – via The Free Dictionary.