Brian Fargo, co-founder of Interplay Productions and its much-loved games franchises, has announced that if the latest release from his new company InXile - Bard's Tale IV - does well, he wants to buy his old company back and resurrect some classic titles.
Founded in 1983 as Interplay Productions, the company now known as Interplay Entertainment had its gaming industry start in the world of interactive fiction based on co-founder Brian Fargo's experience writing Demon's Forge in 1981. The company soon branched out into graphical adventures, but it was the launch of The Bard's Tale in 1985 and Wasteland in 1988 that put the company's name on the map as a creator of immersive role-playing games. 1998's Battle Chess, in which the pieces were cleverly animated, was a hit, and the company soon found itself with enough money to pull in third-party titles for publication - including Parallax Software's Descent and a series of Star Trek games - before launching the in-house Fallout, a spiritual successor to Wasteland.
Sadly, despite the popularity of its games, Interplay Productions ran into financial trouble around 1998: The company found itself in bankruptcy court, and to avoid closure the company listed on the NASDAQ exchange and changed its name to Interplay Entertainment. Unfortunately, this was little more than a temporary solution: A failure to capitalise on the exploding console market, an ill-fated venture into sports gaming, and increased competition in the PC game arena led to continued losses, and investment from Paris-based Titus Software came with strings that saw Interplay lose its publisher status. Fargo, whose attempt to get into the console market came too late to save the company, left to found InXile Entertainment, and his replacement Hervé Caen, co-founder of Titus, was forced to cancel numerous projects and close or sell various studios. By 2005, Titus itself filed for bankruptcy and Interplay only saved itself by selling the Fallout franchise to Bethesda Softworks - only keeping the rights to Fallout Online, a massively multiplayer version of the post-apocalyptic game that would never see the light of day.
Today, Interplay has ceased all publishing and development activity, existing only as a vehicle for its intellectual properties. In 2016, the company indicated it was interested in selling these properties to the highest bidder, but no sale was ever publicly announced - and now Fargo is looking to re-take the helm.
'I'm asked what would we do if Bard's Tale 4 PC is a big hit,' Fargo writes on his personal Twitter account. 'How about this stretch goal. I will attempt to buy Interplay back if we manage to sell over 2 million units in the first 18 months.'
Fargo confirmed that he was serious in an email interview with Variety, stating that 'my fans have been requesting me to bring back my old Interplay games for years and this would be the most amazing way to make that happen.' Not all of the company's IP would be included in any sale, however: Fallout, in particular, is a lost cause thanks to the sale to Bethesda, though Fargo indicates that he sees the reborn Wasteland franchise - brought back in 2014 with the release of the crowdfunded Wasteland 2 - as its replacement.
Interplay has not commented on Fargo's plan.
February 24 2020 | 12:00