Unlucky for Interplay, console gaming became the hot shit in the late 90s, especially among those who hadnít yet been introduced to games. People wanted to sit down with their friends on the couch and play games, and consoles were the easiest way to do that. The PC games industry was greatly harmed by this, especially among companies like Interplay that focused mainly on the PC.
So, for the next few years, Interplay struggled. The company was purchased by French publisher Titus Interactive, who quickly went to work screwing everything up worse than it already was. Titus stopped Interplayís publishing functions, fucked their stock so badly that Interplay got delisted, and, in perhaps the biggest dick move in the history of game companies, sacked the entirety of the Black Isle staff. Way to go, Titus.
Today, no one is quite sure what Interplay is doing. Between 2004 and 2006, everyone wondered if the studio was even still alive. Weíre all probably aware of the concept of a Fallout
MMO from Interplay, but the status of that is uncertain at best. In 2008, a bunch of new games were rumored to be in development using old Interplay franchises, including Dark Alliance
and Earthworm Jim
. Whether we will see any of these is a lingering question.
To me, it seems like a lot of Interplayís problems were not its own fault. However, I think the company waited too long to get into the console game, and when it did, it seemed to be a half-assed effort. Specializing is always beneficial, and it works for plenty of companies, but when it isnít working, a company simply has to be willing to change.
Yet I think this also shows the danger of taking a company public. Interplay seemed to be doing fine before it went up on NASDAQ. After that, its troubles were really exacerbated. It gave Titus the opportunity to wave its dick in the face of everything that made Interplay great, and in the long run just led to more financial problems. I do hope that Interplay can get back on its feet. If I can one day say that Iím playing a new Interplay game, I will believe that there is justice in the world.
So, thatís it for this installment. There are plenty of other game companies to talk about, both on the hardware and software side. Perhaps there will be a next installment.
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