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Interplay plans massively multiplayer Fallout title

Embattled publisher Interplay is planning to enter the MMORPG market with a title based on the Fallout franchise, according to CEO Herve Caen - despite the fact that the company is apparently unable to repay its existing debts.

Embattled publisher Interplay is planning to enter the MMORPG market with a title based on the Fallout franchise, according to CEO Herve Caen - despite the fact that the company is apparently unable to repay its existing debts.

"Based on a detailed review of where our industry stands and the level of interest in the gaming community in taking some of our premier properties online, we are now pursuing several options to fund our entry into massively multiplayer online gaming with titles including Fallout," Caen said in an official statement.

The decision to move into the MMO space comes as Interplay filed financial results for the first quarter, ended March 31st, which revealed a net loss of $900,000 for the three month period following poor performance of recent console releases.

The troubled publisher has debts of almost $1.5 million, including over $400,000 in back rent owed to its landlords and $320,000 owed to Warner Bros Entertainment, and apparently lacks the means to pay these debts - it is in default of payments for many of them.

As such, the decision to start building MMORPG titles - a notoriously risk-ridden and hugely expensive venture, as demonstrated by the cancellation last week of Games Workshop and Climax' co-development of Warhammer Online - seems nothing short of utterly bizarre.

However, Caen is adamant that this is the way forward for the company. "Initial feedback from our investment bank and ongoing dialogue with others in the gaming sector appear to confirm that the combination of our valuable and popular intellectual properties with the rapidly growing online gaming community is the best way to maximise Interplay shareholder value," he explained.

Fans of the Fallout series might wish that Caen had shown such belief in the strength of the property last year when Interplay shut down well-respected development studio Black Isle, cancelling work on a Fallout RPG title in the process. A console Fallout game, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, was released during the March quarter; largely derided by fans of the franchise, it failed to achieve commercial success and was one of the titles whose underperformance was responsible for Interplay's Q1 loss.

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.