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Wireplay up for sale

Gameplay Plc reduced to a shell

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Gameplay Plc is looking to sell its multi-player games service, Wireplay, after suspending the operation last Friday.

It was hoped that Wireplay could be saved by turning it into a subscription-based service but this failed to get off the ground.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that it was seeking a buyer for Wireplay but would not disclose whether Gameplay Plc was talking to any interested parties.

However, what's left is little more than a shell company.

The company has yet to make an official statement about its future.

Gameplay Plc's rise and fall as one of the UK's leading dotcoms goes hand-in-hand with the boom and bust of the dotcom bubble.

Gameplay.com - as it was known then - burst onto the Alternative Investment Market in August 1999.

It raised £31 million - £10 million more than expected - when it floated after its offering was oversubscribed, valuing the company at £53.6 million.

Its aim was to become Europe's leading on-line computer games portal and games community.

It spent £5.1 million acquiring a UK boxed games supplier, Interactive Commercial Enterprises Limited, and £5.5 million acquiring Wireplay from BT.

What followed was an aggressive period of acquisitions, partnerships and new deals that helped diversify and expand Gameplay.com's operation into Europe.

Publishing its maiden results in October 2000 it said this rapid expansion was coming to an end as it reported pre-tax losses of £33.5 million on revenues of £23 million.

At its height in March 2000 Gameplay shares were worth more than 1000p - four months later they had fallen to around 200p. By February 2001, its share price had tumbled below 100p prompting Gameplay Plc - as it was now known - to reassure investors that it had a long-term future.

It had already cut costs by axing almost 300 jobs, but this failed to prevent its slide.

In May this year Gameplay Plc sold its retail sales games operation in the UK and the Nordics for the total of £1.07.

What's left of the company has also been sold off.

Oh well. ®

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