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Report: Mindscape Leaves Video Game Industry After Nearly 30 Years
Report: Mindscape Leaves Video Game Industry After Nearly 30 Years
August 10, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

French software publisher Mindscape has closed down its last internal development studio, Punchers Impact, and is preparing to exit the games business after nearly 30 years, according to reports.

The studio confirmed the news to Develop, saying that its Punchers Impact closure would result in 40 lost jobs.

According to a company spokesperson, Mindscape put a lot of stake into the studio's PC multiplayer online battle arena game Crasher, which according to the source was "not a success," and as a result, the company is "no longer going to work in the game software business."

Though Mindscape as a game software brand has existed for around 28 years, the current company bears little resemblance to the original, which was founded in 1983 by former Scholastic executive Roger Buoy and published 1980s computer games that included Deja Vu: A Nightmare Comes True!! and Chris Crawford's Balance of Power.

The company was acquired by The Software Toolworks in 1990 and switched its focus to accommodate the resurgence of the home console market, primarily with Atari arcade conversions, licensed properties including Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and the music teaching keyboard peripheral Miracle Piano Teaching System.

Mindscape was passed around to a handful of new owners in the latter half of the 90s, becoming a division of The Learning Company along the way. It became a separate entity in 2001 after a purchase by former TLC Edusoft executive Jean-Pierre Nordman, who has overseen operations since.

In the absence of game software, the company is currently focused on a "house robot" line of toys called Karotz.

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Martain Chandler
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I played Chris Crawford's Balance of Power on a Mac. It was a game, a teaching tool, and a window on the future. We need more games like that.

Bart Stewart
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I'm with Martain. BoP was that rarity: an intelligent and well-designed game that somehow became an actual product. (Today's games are one or the other but not both. I blame consoles. Or sunspots, maybe.)

It's almost a shame Balance of Power wasn't released in the past decade; given the obsession of publishers for sequels, BoP might have become the house franchise that could have kept Mindscape going.

Gregory Kinneman
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I don't think many people are willing to experience that kind of challenge in a game. The barrier to entry on BoP even in easy-mode (bipolar, only sending weapons/troops) was immense. Despite how great BoP was, I don't feel that there is a big market for a remake, and I don't see what a remake would add besides a slightly prettier UI.

Bart Stewart
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>> I don't see what a remake would add besides a slightly prettier UI

I've heard the same thing said of more than one game franchise that keeps getting sequels.

As for barriers to entry, how is requiring thought more of a barrier to entry than requiring a high level of hand-eye coordination and fast-twitch muscle response? The market for a game that's about more than just killing things and taking their stuff may be larger than many developers (or publishers) believe.

Victor Reynolds
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i used to play their port of paperboy on the NES, I even remember the TV commercials for it. IIRC, they had another game released at the same time as paperboy, with a similar commercial...i just dont remember what that other game is.

ahh, good times.

Alan Rimkeit
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Mindscape? French? When did that happen? I used to work as a Jr. Network Admin at a Mindscape in Novato, Ca. Is this the same one? O.o