The 3DO Company
has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. The company is best known to Mac gamers as producers of the Heroes of Might & Magic strategy game series.
In a statement, 3DO chairman and CEO Trip Hawkins said his company’s plan is to sell itself or its assets to another organization, though they’re hoping that their bankruptcy “will generate additional new opportunities.” The company will continue to operate while it’s being supervised by the Bankruptcy Court.
3DO’s financial condition has been no secret to long-time watchers of the company; it has made several announcements about different refinancing plans, credit terms with various financial organizations, and maneuvers on the NASDAQ stock exchange listing. In late-December 2002, 3DO lined up a US$10 million loan from founder Trip Hawkins himself. In March, Hawkins noted that 3DO had “emerged again as an operating company,” but this latest turn of events would seem to dash hopes that 3DO will continue indefinitely as an independent entity.
Last November, 3DO shipped Heroes of Might & Magic IV for the Macintosh, and more recently,
an interview with 3DO’s marketing manager
revealed that the company had planned to produce the sequel, Heroes of Might & Magic V, for the Mac as well. It’s unclear how 3DO’s financial problems may affect future plans for the HOMM franchise.
Trip Hawkins, who also founded video game giant Electronic Arts, started The 3DO Company in 1993 as a manufacturer of video game consoles. Hawkins partnered with venture capitalists, AT&T, Time Warner, MCA and other companies.
While Nintendo, Sega had struck gold (as Sony soon would again with its original PlayStation) by manufacturing proprietary video game consoles, the 3DO Company took a page from the PC clone market: Any manufacturer could license the basic design from The 3DO Company and build a 3DO console themselves.
Panasonic, Sanyo and Goldstar stepped forward with their own 3DO systems, but 3DO never found the marketshare or staying power it needed to survive in the enormously competitive video game console business. Eventually Hawkins reinvented 3DO as a third-party publisher of game software for PC, Mac, and video game console systems.