Interplay Sells Off Descent, Kingpin, Earthworm Jim Etc

Don’t call it a comeback. Don’t call it, like, three comebacks. Interplay, once renowned as a house of PC ideas, has failed to get back off the ground across various attempts at resurrection, and it seems matters have gone no better for whoever is currently wearing the well-worn skinsuit. ‘Interplay’ has just announced a firesale of various intellectual properties. Which means that the likes of Descent, Freespace, Kingpin, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, MDK, Sacrifice and Earthworm bally Jim are now looking for new homes.

Oh God, come on, let’s do this. Let’s get the RPS community to club together to buy the rights to and make a new Kingpin game.

The shock sale does not specify exactly what is or isn’t being put out front of shop with a red sticker on it, but the announcement states that Interplay intends “to sell its library of video game assets and intellectual property. The expected sale represents some 70 titles and dozens of characters.” I.e., it sounds like everything is up for grabs.

There is, as you can see above, quite a few of the 1990s great and good, broadly left to die on the vine when Interplay died and was later replaced by an ‘Interplay.’ Us hoary old folk would give our right arms for a new Sacrifice or full-fat Descent, for instance, but I sadly suspect the wider gaming world does not care quite so much. Hence, sale time – presumably one of few options for ‘Interplay’ to make meaningful bank from its portfolio. It’s tried licensing some of its properties a couple of times, most notably with Descent: Underground, but hasn’t managed to set any worlds on fire as yet.

Perhaps I’m just too influenced by what happened with the death of THQ, but I find it hard to imagine that the likes of THQ Nordic and Sega aren’t having a sniff around this. Or perhaps Doug Tentpole wants Earthworm Jim back, or Descent’s original creators want to pin the name back onto their spiritual sequel.

It’s Kingpin and Sacrifice that catch my eye, though. Oh, for a few bob in the bank.

Here’s the full statement, from ‘Interplay’ president Eric Caen:

“Interplay has entertained millions of players with its well-recognized games, including Earthworm Jim, Freespace, Giants, Kingpin, Messiah, MDK, Run Like Hell, Sacrifice, Battlechess, Clayfighter, Dark Alliance, and Descent. As game creators, we are proud of the entertainment these properties have provided over the years. With the proliferation of mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality and other new forms of consumption, we believe that consumers are ready to experience and interact with Interplay’s characters, stories and game play in ways never possible before. We look forward to seeing how this unique portfolio of interactive entertainment icons will evolve for the worldwide audience.”

If you are a Rich Person who is interested in acquiring one of these, you’re instructed to contact this fellow. And to then ask me to design and write it for you.

Question is, will ‘Interplay’ have any meaning whatsoever left once everything it was once known for has been strip-mined? This has been a long and sorry tale, but perhaps an ending of sorts now awaits.

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56 Comments

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    One of my favorite early memories of EWJ was a question in the game. What colour is Jim’s red gun:
    a) Blue
    b) Green
    c) Yellow.

  2. Gandor says:

    I remember playing Kingpin, Messiah, Descent and MDK as a kid. I still have fond memories of those games, even though I’m pretty sure I would dislike them now.
    Emotionally, I want them to make sequels/remakes and whatnot because I wish I could experience the awe I felt as a kid when I played them.
    But seeing how often remakes fail (games, films, whatever), maybe it would be for the best to just leave everything as it is. Make a spiritual sequel. That way the memory stays untarnished, and new generations can enjoy something similar.

    Unless they decide to make something like Monkey Island remasters, then they should go for it. :D

  3. WeeMadAndo says:

    I would be onboard with a new Kingpin. That game was wonderful.

    But what we really need is a HD version of Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Asymmetrical multiplayer would be popular today.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      There was a Kickstarter attempt for a spiritual sequel a year or two back, it failed unfortunately.

      link to first-wonder.com

      • ooshp says:

        Probably because it looked pretty awful.

        A GOOD Giants sequel would be awesome.

    • Henke says:

      I liked Kingpin too, but if someone wanted to make a new ganster-themed FPS it might as well be a new IP, really doesn’t need the Kingpin one. Hell, who even remembers the names of any of the characters in it?

      • frightlever says:

        Try to make a Kingpin game and you might even have Disney breathing down your neck, rightly or wrongly (wrongly).

  4. AbyssUK says:

    More Earthworm Jim… that is what the world is missing…

    • Jalan says:

      Maybe, but would it be worth it if TenNapel wasn’t involved?

      Just looking back at how massive the hate tsunami was toward the man around the time Armikrog. was nearing release (and even before then), I’m guessing some people would prefer he wasn’t involved at all.

      • Niko says:

        Somebody should buy the rights and make Jim totes a queer leftie just to mess with TenNapel.

  5. Lukasz says:

    Too bad I didnt win that 40M AUD powerball few weeks ago. Would know how to spend that money.

  6. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    Freespace sequel?

    • Thurgret says:

      I certainly hope so. As long as it’s good.

      Not a big fan of Interplay for sitting on all this stuff for so long and doing nothing with it.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      It’s the great space game renaissance, isn’t it, so this makes so much sense. Still the best non-sandbox space sim out there, is Freespace 2. Freespace 3 in Volition’s hands would smash any Kickstarter targets, I bet.

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      Elusiv3Pastry says:

      I will back ALL the Kickstarters for a FreeSpace 3.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Apparently Volition really want to make FS3: link to pcgamer.com

      This is from back before they were sold off as part of THQ’s assets. No idea if they’re relegated to churning out Saints Row sequels or what now, but I would love to see FS3.

      • Caiman says:

        More recently both Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog have discussed previous attempts at getting the Freespace license, but Interplay wanted too much money for it (then). Very recently Matt mentioned that Revival might do a Freespace successor once they’ve finished Overload at Revival Productions.

        Revival are basically the original Parallax / Volition team who did Freespace 1 and 2, so I’d be pretty excited if those guys got to work on the IP again. Finally. Oh, and if you loved Descent, Overload is coming along very nicely.

      • Caiman says:

        More recently both Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog have discussed previous attempts at getting the Freespace license, but Interplay wanted too much money for it (then). Very recently Matt mentioned that Revival might do a Freespace successor once they’ve finished Overload at Revival Productions.

        Revival are basically the original Parallax / Volition team who did Freespace 1 and 2, so it would be ideal if those guys got to work on the IP again. Finally. Oh, and if you loved Descent, Overload is coming along very nicely.

    • notenome says:

      Holy shit yes! Freespace 3! I mean System Shock 3 is going to happen so I guess nothing is impossible anymore. Please Volition you’ve said you’d commit murder to make FS3… so kill a rich guy and make FS3 I guess.

      Though thinking about it less enthusiastically, I don’t know if V could pull off the same trick three times in a row (have a satisfying campaign that simultaneously tells you almost nothing about the ‘villains’).

      Screw it, Freespace dude, Freespace.

  7. InternetBatman says:

    I wonder how they’ll rank in terms of value. Earthworm Jim will probably be on the top, followed by Descent. I don’t know about the rest of them.

    I for one could do with another MDK game.

  8. Werthead says:

    If Freespace could be reunited with Volition, that would be cool.

  9. dangermouse76 says:

    UH MDK. Someone with some cash buy the shit out of that IP and make me a new game.

    • Premium User Badge

      corinoco says:

      Non, non rien na change. Worlds most interesting bomb. Ribbon chute. FLANGE ORBITS. I still play this every now and then, I think I know it off by heart. People rave about Psychonauts; yes, it’s wierd – but when the Milkman dreams he plays MDK

    • Faults says:

      MDK is absolutely crying out for a new sequel. Imagine if Ace Team got the license! *heavy breathing*

      • Premium User Badge

        cpt_freakout says:

        An ACE Team MDK would bring tears to my soggy old eyes

  10. dahools says:

    I remember Messiah as a kid it was amazing.
    I think this would make an excellent game now in the hands of the right devs. Maybe people who have worked on things like bio shock or deus ex, a dark and dingy world where everything is bad, society crumbling, criminals everywhere and you are the small gift of light/hope to make the difference, having to manipulate the people all around you to achieve things.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      This. Much better than a Prey sequel, Arkane should get on this. It’s one of those games I only ever played the demo but I played it again and again. Was very clever. Thinking about it the main gimmic, taking over other character’s bodies, is alive and well in Dishonored.

  11. Shar_ds says:

    When you say Kingpin, this is what I remember:

    link to playdosgamesonline.com

    • Shar_ds says:

      okay, talking to myself here..

      But this is an interesting example on memory. I last played this game in 1995 but all my habits and controls came back to me the instant I loaded it up!

  12. JustAchaP says:

    MDK remakes in UE4 pls

  13. Michael Manning says:

    IF there’s ever a time to release a new Freespace game it would be now.

  14. Grim Rainbow says:

    J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Vol. III: The Return of the King.

    24 years. Here I come. Here I come. Make it nice.

  15. Premium User Badge

    keefybabe says:

    I remember the old days you could get a motherfucking crowbar for a motherfucking dollar.

  16. Telkir says:

    This looks like a superb time for the people behind Overload (www.playoverload.com) to buy out the full rights to the remaining Descent IP. Alas, I fear that it would be beyond their budget, but I would absolutely chip in if they decided to get some crowdfunding for it.

    As much as Descent: Underground might be the most official of the recent 6DoF resurrections, I would trust Revival or even the team behind Sol Contingency more than I would Descendant to make good use of it. Sorry, Descendant, but your game just doesn’t inspire me yet.

    • Shuck says:

      Hopefully they can afford the rights to their own game. I suspect Interplay can’t be asking too much for these – it sounds like they’re having to sell everything off to pay legal fees/other monies owed (e.g. back royalties to the makers of Descent), and then they’re going to shut down. At least, I can’t imagine they’d have any existence after that – they only exist now to sell the back catalog on GOG (minus any royalties) and convince game developers to make games they own the IPs to, and then give them a cut of the sales as a licensing fee. And how many games have been released in this manner? One? Although they might be retaining sales rights for the existing games, in which case they could continue to eke out an existence indefinitely.

  17. GallonOfAlan says:

    Ah, MDK. Was there any game more surreal and majestic.

  18. CMaster says:

    What’s included?
    Like, if I buy “MDK”, do I get rights to the current MDK (and 2) games and any available source as well, so I can bang it on GOG as well as making a new one?

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Both MDKs are already on GOG, though.

      • Jalan says:

        Speaking of… perhaps another “everything must go” sale is looming on the horizon in regard to the Interplay titles.

  19. syndrome says:

    Interestingly enough, there was a now-established indie-scene guy who approached Interplay regarding the Descent licence, and they asked for 1M dollars, no negotiations.

    Interplay is just one office, full of documents. That’s it.

    Like a dragon, they’re sitting on a pile of once hugely important and successful names in the history of games. All of it should rot away, in my humble opinion.

  20. MajorLag says:

    It’s a shame that the kickstarter to buy THQ didn’t work. I’d have loved to see something similar here, where a bunch of gamers come together to release beloved franchises back to the public domain. These days, it’s pretty much the only way culture is ever going to become public.

    Instead it will probably be picked up by some already huge player and nothing of interest will ever happen with it again except maybe a few AAA reboot flops.

  21. xcession says:

    Somewhere, on a hard disk gathering dust in my office, I have an mp3 containing every “fuck” from the Kingpin audio files, spliced into one file.

    I think that speaks volumes about how important that game was to me.

  22. TillEulenspiegel says:

    What’s with writers using the “don’t call it a comeback” quote in completely random places? What Mr. Cool J, whom ladies love, actually said was “Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years”

    He was responding to…oh never mind.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Yes, and? Most referential turns of phrase are used outside their original context. That’s the whole point of them.

  23. Mr.Dreadlock says:

    Sacrifice is one of the best games, I’ve ever played.
    Why it went so much under the radar for so many, I have no idea.

    • Sin Vega says:

      There was no internet back then, really, and most game coverage was dominated by boring AAA cack.

      • Mr.Dreadlock says:

        C’mon it was 2000 not 1990. I remember it was still all about gaming press, but that’s how I learned about it.
        Great graphics, superb voice acting, Interplay back then, basically it was AAA title.
        That’s why I don’t get it.

        • Nucleus says:

          I remember PC Gamer UK raving about it, having it on the cover and giving it a ridiculously high score though.

      • Karyogon says:

        There was a lot of internet back then actually, in some sense there was a greater variety of videogames sites. Print mags and demo discs were already practically dead at that point.

  24. Gabbo says:

    I know it might be sacrilege here on RPS, but aside from giving the IP to companies trying to make Giants and Descent successors, I want Earthworm Jim in Smash Bros worse than bad. He fits perfectly in my opinion

  25. Premium User Badge

    Elusiv3Pastry says:

    While we’re selling off IPs…who owns the rights to Die By The Sword? A Vive sequel would be killer.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      It would be the reward that game always deserved but never got (probably because it wasn’t all that great, alas). Wasn’t the whole point of the first one to start a vr revolution that never happened?

      • Premium User Badge

        Elusiv3Pastry says:

        I don’t recall hearing about VR being a goal for it, but I do remember the big stink they made about the amazing technology they created to control every possible axis on each limb individually and the dismemberment thereof. I want to say the same awful control tech was licensed for use in Jurassic Park Trespasser but that might just be coincidence.

  26. Jalan says:

    Not much to mention beyond “Finally!” All these IPs just sitting lifeless for so long (whether any of them hold up to scrutiny in modern times or not) was just depressing to a great extent.

    One thing I’ve seen mentioned (elsewhere) by people speculating about who might buy up this stuff is whether Night Dive will take a swing at it. If this were less than a year ago, I’d probably be rooting for that to happen but after getting some knowledge about how they tend to operate in regard to older IPs, I’m not sure I’d want to see any of these end up in their hands (and true enough, with the state of some of the titles they’ve kept alive and/or rescued from obscurity, it’s for the best they don’t get them).

  27. melancholicthug says:

    Quick, someone that actually has a Twitter account has to tell Volition to jump on that Freespace! I want to know what happened to that madman Bosch.