In the two years since its rebirth, MacPlay has slowly but surely become a powerful force in the Mac gaming community. Like many new start-ups, it struggled early on to find its identity and place in a turbulent market. But in those two years the company has not only managed to survive in a tough market, it has prospered thanks to some ingenuity, aggressiveness, and willingness to take risks.
On a recent visit to Dallas, Texas, I got a chance to visit MacPlay to get the inside scoop on what has transpired at MacPlay in the past two years and what we can look forward to from the company in 2003 and beyond.
A Brief HistoryThe MacPlay brand has a long and storied past in the gaming market. It began as a division within Interplay in the early 1990’s and released hit titles such as Out of this World, Descent, Fallout, and more. Much of MacPlay’s success and passion for delivering top-notch Macintosh games fell onto the hands of Bill Dugan, who had the distinct title of High Priest (better known as a producer) at the company.Despite the company’s success, Interplay eventually abandoned MacPlay in 1997, as Apple’s future laid in doubt and the Mac game market entered a dark and dreary period. Nevertheless, other companies such as MacSoft and Aspyr quickly helped fill the void. MacPlay had left. MacPlay, it seemed, was dead and buried.
In 2000, however, the MacPlay name was resurrected, thanks to Ron Dimant, a feisty and keen Englishman, who licensed the brand from Interplay in a blockbuster deal with the later that helped launch Dimant’s new company. The new MacPlay launched its first two titles in December of 2000 with the release of Sin and Majesty.
Growing PainsMacPlay’s resurrection got off to a slow and troubled start. After shipping Sin and Majesty in December, the company's half-dozen or so titles such as Baldur’s Gate II, Icewind Dale, and Sacrifice endured long development times.
Dimant also faced other pressing issues early on that would test his mettle as a CEO. In order to get Diane Zammit to leave a cushy job at Apple, Dallas-based Dimant opened an office in California so that Zammit could continue to live in California. Dimant also used that opportunity to build a development team called Mumbo Jumbo that would go on to create Myth III: The Wolf Age. The relationship (and the distance) between Zammit and Dimant would prove to be fruitless as an apparent power struggle ensued. Zammit left the company six months later and the California office was closed after Mumbo Jumbo shipped Myth III in late 2001.
Dimant used this opportunity to move MacPlay to a central and focused location: Dallas, TX. Soon after Zammit’s departure, Dimant hired Mark Cottam as its new President. Cottam helped bring a sense of stability and much needed experience to the table. Indeed, Cottam’s cool nature, savvy business experience, and attention to detail provided MacPlay with direction.
Under Cottam, MacPlay began to make wholesale changes in its personnel. Cottam brought in seasoned and experienced players such as Henry Price as its Director of Sales and Marketing, Rob Minnis as its Technical Project Manager, and Joshua Smith as its Creative Director.