All Gameplayed out

Wireplay MBO

Gameplay is reduced to a shell after selling its last remaining business, games ISP Wireplay to an MBO team.

To be precise, the management team, grouped under a new company called Arena Technik Ltd, is buying the assets of Wireplay for £132,500.

News of the impending acquisition was leaked to The Register two weeks ago (Story: Wireplay still up for sale).

Arena Technik in effect inherits a name, software and customer lists. But there doesn't appear to be much in the way of goodwill: Bruce Heck, former GamePlay CTO, and Tim Gummer, former head of GamePlay Studios, published their mobile phone numbers last week on their new Website. According to Eurogamer.net, "this attracted quite a lot of attention from former Gameplay fans and employees, with whom the pair weren't all that popular".

Wireplay has been in suspended animation for several weeks and up for sale even longer. Wireplay's editorial/content team defected last month to a games ISP start-up established by BlueYonder, the broadband arm of Telewest. The Blueyonder games op goes live in September.

The games ISP market in the UK looks up up for grabs: Wireplay and Barrysworld, historically the two biggest players, have both been bust, and NGUK, a niche operator, looks likes it has lost the will to live. Its servers appear to have been switched off, as of September 1.

The free multiplayer gaming scene in the UK has been great for consumers, but crap for business. The sector will only become reasonably healthy, if the operators charge reasonable subscription fees to gamers. Who will be the first to lose their nerve? ®

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