Titles and Sites in the Works
February, 1997 (Vol 3, No 2)
Each month indelibleNews! prints industry news, gossip, scoops, and insider information you won’t find anywhere else. Jump directly to Alliances, Children, or Net News. Or start at the top:
Hackers broke into the Crack.com web site, stole the codes to Quake (from id software) and two upcoming Crack titles, and then made them available for a free download on the site. The codes were accessible for 12 hours before Crack realized what had happened.
In other crime news: Psygnosis plans to plaster 43,000 posters across 1500 college campuses over the next two months. They advertise League of Pain, an upcoming futuristic sports game.
On the Washington beat, Media Technology Ltd. (parent company of Bethesda Software) filed suit against two U.S. Senators. Bethesda?s The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall was singled out as a violent computer game, and Bethesda charges libel (any award it wins will be donated to the Smithsonian Institution?s Reading Is Fundamental literacy program).
Tribeca Interactive is closing down, but only until another project gets a green light. Tribeca?s CD-ROM 9 was released by GT Interactive in September to good reviews.
Marvel Entertainment Group is still kicking. It has formed Marvel Enterprises, to manage interactive and online ventures.
French publisher Reunion des Mus?es Nationaux will use U.S. distributors to handle several new CD-ROMs that should be hitting the states soon. Look for Versailles 1685: A Game of Intrigue at the Court of Louis XIV and The Treasure of the San Diego: Looking for the Lost Galleon.
Broderbund will finally trot out the successor to Myst (which continues, ad nauseum, on the best-seller list) during the summer of 1997. It?s called Riven, and should make about umpteen billion dollars.
Allegro New Media will acquire Software Publishing Corporation for about $5 million. Both companies make business-oriented CD-ROMs.
DVD Software, Inc. has released an upgrade for its games elimination utility software; it also changed the name of the program to AntiGame (from UnGame). Antigame searches hard drives, in offices and at colleges, and erases games ? even games hidden in compressed files ? so that people can?t have any fun. These people will therefore, in theory, work harder. The president of DVD Software says, “I was always the tattle-tale growing up. Now I?ve found a productive outlet for my rat-like behavior.”
Interplay promises that its new title Redneck Rampage, which uses the Duke Nukem 3D engine, consists of much more than “just throwing overalls on Duke.” An example ? “you can blow up Turd Minions in the sewage treatment plant.”
GTE Interactive Media, despite its deal to distribute the hit Titanic, is closing up shop. It cites increased competition for shelf space as a contributing factor. The “majority” of its 85 employees will be laid off; a few will be relocated within the company. What will happen to current production and distribution contracts is unclear.
GTE isn?t the only multimedia giant in Big trouble. Acclaim, once the hottest thing going thanks to Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, lost $221.3 million last year. Once again, Acclaim lost $221.3 million last year. Unlike pansies GTE, they plan to stick it out (despite their auditor?s advice).
7th Level, although it has cancelled several CD-ROMs in the works, is predicting a profitable 1997. It has high hopes for the sequel to Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail.
And the bail-out continues! McGraw-Hill Home Interactive is expected to shift its focus away from CD-ROMs and toward the Internet.
Budget CD-ROM publisher Essex Interactive Media has been scooped up by Memorex Software, which will re-launch some of Essex?s old titles.
Looking Glass Technologies wins the prize for most rhetoric-filled press release of the month. It seems the “extraordinary talents” over there have cooked up a “previously top-secret” game that transports players to “a magical age” via a “next generation engine” that uses “lightning-fast frame rates” to produce a “revolutionary CD-ROM.” Anyway, it?s called Dark, coming in late 1997.
Similarly inspired PR from Interplay Productions has Interplay offering free copies of M.A.X.: Mechanized Assault & Exploration to the Pentagon. Specifically, members of the Extraterrestrial War Planning Group are eligible to receive free copies. Can someone tell us if this is for real, and if so, how many of our tax dollars go to supporting this Group?
That cheap divorce just became a little more attainable thanks toE-Z Legal Forms, which has released do-it-yourself divorce forms on the CD-ROM Divorce.
American Laser Games is filing for Chapter 11 reorganization, streamlining its operations, and changing its name to Her Interactive (which is currently a division of the company). Her Interactive was responsible for McKenzie & Company.
Wanderlust Interactive has acquired Western Technologies and its subsidiary, Adrenalin Entertainment, for 800,000 shares of common stock. It hopes to leverage products across all media, including the Internet and television. Wanderlust?s staff will increase from 30 to 80 employees.
Fairfield Language Technologies couldn?t ask for better PR: when NASA sent Capt. Jerry Linenger on his mission to the Mir Space Station, he was packing a copy of Fairfield?s The Rosetta Stone Russian I ? all the better to communicate with his Russian roommates.
More free publicity: Palladium Interactive?s Nine Worlds Hosted by Patrick Stewart is part of NASA?s new interactive exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center.
Southern Star Interactive debuts this month with four discs: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Scarlet Letter and The Old Man and the Sea. S S Interactive is an offshoot Southern Star Group, a 20-year-old Australian company.
Blue Byte Software is releasing Extreme Assault, a helicopter and tank action game that requires players to ? and we quote from the press release ? “BE AGGRESSIVE, TAKE CONTROL & WIPE EM OUT!” Expect it 2nd Q, 1997.
BayWare Inc., creator of several Asian language tutors, has been swallowed by Transparent Language, Inc. Financial details were not disclosed.
Discovery Channel Multimedia (see related article in ALLIANCES, below) has three new games coming in 1997. Byzantine: The Betrayal, Evolution, and WatchWord all feature an educational component as well as an action one.
The hype for DVD-ROM has been around for awhile, but now Cowles/Simba Information has put some (incredibly optimistic) numbers behind it. The company predicts $74 million in sales and complete replacement of the CD-ROM by the year 2000.
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Bloodmeisters John Romero (Doom), Tom Hall (Prey), and Todd Porter (G-NOME) got together and made a company. They called it ION Storm. Now ION Storm has gotten together with fellow gore-lovers Eidos Interactive (TombRaider) to make a bunch of games in time for the 1997 holiday season.
Accolade and ARIES Online Games will join forces to create an online multiplayer version of Jack Nicklaus 4, coming this summer.
CUC Software will distribute software from Maris Multimedia, including Discover Astronomy, Origins of Mankind, Redshift 2 and Solar System Explorer.
McDonald?s characters will be used in consumer software produced by Expert Software, Inc. Look for the first title, Ronald McDonald Becomes A Vegetarian And Apologizes For Teaching Children to Eat Slaughtered Cows, later this year. The follow-up will be McDonald?s Hamburgers: Twenty Percent Mealy Worms?, starring the HamBurglar.
Beginning in March 1997, the first 25,000 buyers of Animal Planet (Discovery Channel Multimedia) will receive a coupon for a free pint of Ben & Jerry?s Ice Cream. At the same time, coupons on four million pints of B&J will get you $10 off the CD-ROM. This is B&J?s first cross-promotion ever. When the whole she-bang is over, Discovery will make a donation to the American Humane Society.
American Express will offer points for membership rewards with the purchase of selected The Learning Company CD-ROMs.
Henson Interactive will use the Muppets and some original characters to create a property for The Microsoft Network. Look for it this summer.
MetaTools, Navigo Multimedia Gmbh of Germany and UC Santa Barbara are combining forces to bring Dr. Steven Hawking?s lecture Life In the Universe to CD-ROM.
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Time Warner Electronic Publishing is trying to juice up the world of typing tutors with Top of the Key, a program that teaches typing through a series of fast-paced basketball drills. It should be out 1Q ?97.
The Magic 3D Coloring Book, also due in 1Q, is the first in a planned series from IBM and Crayola. The title was developed by EAI Interactive.
Freddi Fish and Luther will return this month, courtesy of Humongous Entertainment, in two new titles. Freddi Fish and Luther?s Maze Madness and Freddi Fish and Luther?s Water Worries will retail for $14.95 each.
Digital Impact is raising $3 million to further the career of its hottest property, the hyperactive otter Ozzie. Expect a new CD-ROM, a new web site, and an “Ozzie Trek” contest sometimes in February. Digital Impact expects the web site to account for 50% of its revenue ? thanks to online sales ? by the year 2000.
Castle Rock Entertainment and The Microsoft Network are giving 35,000 copies of Civil Rights: Then & Now to high schools around the country. The disc is based on the film Ghosts of Mississippi.
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Sierra Online, in an effort to promote The Time Warp of Dr. Brain, is sponsoring a contest. The prize: 100 Trek BMX bikes. No purchase is necessary; check out http://www.sierra.com/drbrain4 for details.
The money behind Appaloosa Interactive?s new web division, Appaloosa Online, came from Sega Enterprises, which coughed up $4 million.
Julann Griffin, the creator of Jeopardy!, designed two new online game shows that are debuting on http://www.gameshows.com before moving to CompuServe and America Online. BJP Interactive is looking for $2.25 to push the games, Strike a Match and Out of Order.
Cyberdreams will aggressively market their upcoming CD-ROMs on their web site (www.cyberdreams.com). “It doesn?t make sense for Cyberdreams to let its titles languish simply because retailers aren?t excited about them,” said director of marketing Elizabeth Olson. Titles in development feature Wes Craven, Elliot Gould, Paul Sorvino, and the 1995 Playmate of the Year.
SonicNet has been bought from Prodigy and Sunshine Interactive Network in a “multi-million dollar deal.” The buyer is record company Paradigm Music Entertainment.
Netly News Web site, a hot spot on Pathfinder, has been re-designed and expanded as Netly News Network (www.netlynews.com), curtsey of Razorfish, Inc. This is the first instep in a what is described as “a complete reorganization of Time Warner?s Pathfinder service.”
The next space shuttle mission will be simulcast, with real-time audio and video, on SpaceZone (www.spacezone.com), a site owned jointly by Warner International Communications and Telescan.
The episodic web soap opera The East Village will be cross-promoted with an upcoming feature film, The Wedding. Both properties are owned by Marinex Multimedia. In related news, American Cybercast (creator of the original web soap The Spot) is going out of business. In related related news, ski champion Suzi Chaffee (better known as Suzi Chapstick) will anchor a new web soap called Avalanche, from InterZine (www.iski.com).
Kids Light Internet Channel is offering an animated musical on the Internet (www.kidslight.com). Visitors can do mature things like ? get this ? “design farts.”
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Revised: February 15, 1997.