Fallout in doubt as Interplay fears collapse

Fallout in doubt as Interplay fears collapse

By Rob Crossley

May 30th 2011 at 3:55PM

Eighties-born publisher admits 'substantial concerns' over survival chances

US publisher Interplay has been thrown into financial disarray with several projects in the balance, new information reveals.

The Californian group warns of “substantial doubts over our ability to continue as a going concern”, and has told investors that its cash balance had fallen to $3,000 by the turn of the year, with a working capital deficit nearly at $3 million.

Grave details of financial instability were exposed in an SEC document obtained by Develop. The 76-page report – which was released two months after its initial submission deadline – warns throughout that Interplay could face bankruptcy, and that it may have to generate funds by selling the company.

Interplay was functioning “without a credit agreement or credit facility” by the turn of the year, the company said.

“The lack of any credit agreement has resulted in a substantial reduction in the cash available to finance our operations,” it added.

Interplay said it is currently operating without a chief financial officer, and is no longer giving external developers advance payments for projects – opting instead pay studios after their game is released via a net-revenue-sharing model.

The firm’s substantial financial insecurity, if matters turn worse, could have a harmful knock-on effect for several confirmed projects, including:

  • Fallout Online, developed by Masthead Studios and due for release 2012
  • ClayFighter, a DSiWare game due for release Q2 2011
  • Stonekeep, a WiiWare game due Q3 2011
  • Descent, a WiiWare project with a tentative 2011 release date
  • Earthworm Jim 4, a project still in development but at an unknown state


These projects could be cancelled if Interplay’s situation worsens, or its assets could be sold to another company if any show interest.

'SUBSTANTIAL' DEBTS

“We currently have some obligations that we are unable to meet without generating additional income or raising additional capital,” Interplay said.

“If we cannot generate additional income or raise additional capital in the near future, we may become insolvent or be made bankrupt or may become illiquid or worthless.”

Interplay, which also develops games internally, reported a net loss of $1 million in 2010, along with a stockholders’ deficit of $2.8 million and a working capital deficit of $2.8 million.

Additional financing is needed to fund current operations, the firm said.

“However, no assurance can be given that funding can be obtained on acceptable terms, or at all,” it added.

“These conditions, combined with the company’s historical operating losses and its deficits in stockholders’ equity and working capital, raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.”

Interplay said it is spreading its bets to secure external funding, and is prepared to accept “a sale or merger of the company”.

Other options include a public offering of the company’s capital stock, or selling off its assets to other companies.

But debts appear to have reached a critical stage. Interplay said it owes the Internal Revenue Service some $410,000 in payroll taxes, payroll tax penalties, and interest for unpaid and late payments.

It owes the California Employment Development Department approximately $83,000 in payroll tax contributions, and still needs to pay the Franchise Tax Board about $10,000.

Interplay said it is “in the process of negotiating a payment plan” with these groups.

THE FALLOUT

The firm’s financial woes could, if worsened, bring a premature end to the Fallout trademark lawsuit Interplay is embroiled in.

Bethesda Softworks, the rights-owner of the Fallout brand, is seeking to terminate Interplay’s plans to sell and develop Fallout Online. Bethesda claims the project is in breach of copyright law, which Interplay denies.

Interplay has issued counter claims, accusing Bethesda of breach of contract and rescission. Bethesda filed a motion to dismiss these counter-claims, which in January were denied.

The litigation continues, but Interplay is nevertheless warning that if it cannot generate sufficient funding, its operations may cease.

A spokesperson for the company could not be reached at time of publication.

Interplay, founded in 1983, was on the brink of collapse in 2004 when it had been evicted from its premises for failing to pay rent. It was briefly shut down by California state officials, yet the business survived bankruptcy by axing a huge portion of staff and closing down all its development studios, operating with a skeleton staff in far smaller premises.