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December 23 - 30, 2022


Welcome to Your Weekly News Brief!


Happy Holidays! 

I hope you are enjoying some downtime this week - our whole industry deserves a long winter’s nap! 

Bob Iger recently sent this message to Disney fans, "It is an extraordinary privilege to lead this remarkable company again. I am so grateful for your continued passion for Disney." I certainly feel privileged to bring you The Bloom Report each week and am grateful to our passionate readers and their willingness to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Thank you! 

Happy New Year from Mary and the POP Team! 

"I am a long-time reader and champion of the Bloom Report. The quantity of quality articles on so many different aspects of our industry  is unmatched and  I regularly share and discuss them with my management team as an important business tool."  - Jim Engle, President & Founder, Little Kids Inc. 

"I don't know anyone in the industry that doesn't read the Bloom Report." -Ken Lewis, President, 4Kidz, Inc.

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Book Review - Julia DeKorte

Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design: How to Create Games Children Love by Mark Schlichting

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Mark Schlichting’s Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design: How to Create Games Children Love is more than a comprehensive guide, it is both a map and a treasure chest of information on how to create games for children. Diving into all related categories: play patterns, developmental stages, ancestral biology, the digital world versus the physical world, Schlichting covers any question, concern, or curiosity you may have about designing a game.


Split into six parts and further into chapters, Schlichting writes in depth about every aspect of not only the design process, but the how and the why of play. First beginning with identifying play patterns, reviewing different types of play for different developmental stages, and explaining the biological roots and significance of play, Schlichting creates a foundation for which a successful game can be built on. He then moves into the specifics of the components of a game: physical versus digital, audio and visual design choices, the importance of characters and community. He finishes with the nitty gritty: the predesign process, the design process, the production stage, and testing with kids. A final part includes case studies where he shares personal experiences of designing games applying all the information he just shared. 


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Book Review by Julia DeKorte

Legacy of Laughter: A Grandparent Guide & Playbook

Author: Mary Kay Morrison

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Mary Kay Morrison’s Legacy of Laughter is helpful, heartwarming, and everything a grandparent could need in guiding them to having fun and learning with their grandchild. The book is split into nine informational chapters and a playbook at the end: a compilation of different games, activities, and ways to connect based on the stage of development of your grandchild.


The first nine chapters that comprise the guide half of the book truly set grandparents up for success, with tips, advice, and information about how to be the best companion to a grandchild. Morrison touches on everything from the importance of humor and playing outside to preparing the home for a safe and happy grandchild visit to how to navigate discipline. Any question, concern, or curiosity will be answered in these comprehensive chapters.


Financial and Legal


Brunico Communications, the parent company of brands such as Kidscreen, Playback and Realscreen, has acquired the assets of the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE). The sale includes the US-based trade body’s international content markets, conferences and events—NATPE Global, NATPE Budapest, NATPE Streaming+ and the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards. 

Jakks Pacific has disclosed being impacted by a ransomware attack after having its stolen data exposed by the Hive and BlackCat ransomware operations, reports The Record, a news site by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. In a letter sent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Jakks Pacific said that its servers have been encrypted on Dec. 8, and while "containment protocols" were leveraged...

Meta’s Ad Practices Ruled Illegal Under E.U. Law. The decision is one of the most consequential issued under the E.U.’s landmark data-protection law and creates a new business headwind for the social media giant. Meta suffered a major defeat on Wed. that could severely undercut its Facebook and Instagram advertising business after European Union regulators  found it had illegally forced users to effectively...

A group of video game testers is forming Microsoft’s first labor union in the U.S., which will also be the largest in the video game industry. Communications Workers of America said Tuesday that about 300 quality-assurance workers at Microsoft video game subsidiary ZeniMax Studios have voted to join the union. Microsoft already told the CWA it would accept the formation of the union at its Maryland-based...


***The above posted after December 30th***


Naughty and Nice (R&D) Toy Cos. The list revealed that spending more on R&D was a poor gauge of companys’ innovativeness. Moreover, because most investors use R&D spending to gauge innovativeness, RQ identifies firms that fall below other investors’ radar. This is why the RQ50 portfolio historically outperforms the market.  Since its the holiday season, let’s start with a toy co. which has made the RQ50 all 9 yrs...

3 Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility for Toy Companies. Corporate social responsibility is one of the hottest topics of the day, and it’s one the toy industry can’t afford to ignore. To ensure longevity and success, toy companies only have one choice to move forward. They have to adapt and embrace corporate social responsibility. But what does this mean, and most importantly, what are the benefits?

Amidst Atari's continued money struggles, its one-year CEO is looking to acquire the company outright. The offer, which runs through January 26, 2023, comes after Atari reported a "liquidity shortfall and additional financing requirements." For the first half of the 2022-2023 fiscal year, Atari had a loss of €5.4 million (or $5.7 million), up 54.2 percent from 2021-2022's €3.5 million ($3.7 million).

Yuji Naka indicted over insider trading case at Square Enix. The Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator and another former Square Enix employee have been formally indicted following their arrests for alleged insider trading earlier in the year. Weeks after his second arrest, and over a month after his first, game developer Yuji Naka has been indicted over alleged insider trading during his time at Square Enix. 


Saudi Arabia gains control of AR developer Magic Leap for $450 million. The Telegraph reports that Saudi Arabia has gained majority control of developer Magic Leap in a deal worth $450 million. Through its sovereign wealth fund known as Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia now has a stake in the company over 50 percent. 



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Stories, Comments, and Advice


Steve Reece: Toy Industry 2023: Global Outlook...4 Key Factors. Many of us in the Toy & Game business will be delighted to finally see the back of 2022. Coming out of the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic, we hoped for so much in 2022, but it just became more and more difficult as the year progressed. Between ongoing Covid lockdowns in China through to loss of revenues in Russia after their terrible invasion...


Still friends to the end: the evolution and endless appeal of killer doll movies. Chucky, Annabelle, and M3gan all make rotten playthings, but that doesn’t stop moviegoers from pulling them from the toy chest. America loves its toys to death, at least if movies are any indication. Since the 1987 introduction of the murderous doll Chucky, killer toys have been a staple of the cineplex. Despite the modest returns of the Child’s Play...


How a new generation of gamers is pushing for inclusivity beyond the table. For decades, players of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) have used dice, pens and paper to engage in a form of entertainment that combines collective storytelling with strategic puzzle-solving and combat simulation. Once considered a niche hobby, these types of games are experiencing a boost in mainstream visibility thanks to series...


Pinterest Predicts. People use Pinterest to plan for the future. That means we know what’s next. In fact, for the last three years, 80% of our report predictions came true.¹ This isn’t another year-end trend report. This is a not-yet-trending report—a window into the future, from the place where people go to plan it. Let’s look forward to 2023. This is Pinterest Predicts.


How the Barbie Movie Could Set the Record Straight. The few brief glimpses we get of the film make it clear that Barbie is taking a lot of inspiration from the toy line, from outfits to the brightly colored world itself. But it’s not just Barbie’s aesthetics that will be in the movie — it’s her spirit, or rather, the spirit of her creators. Barbie is largely viewed as the quintessential “girl toy,” and the brand has been criticized for being ...

***The above posted after December 30th***


From the Bloom Report - The Top 22 POP Featured Articles of 2022! Thank you and congratulations to the authors of these most viewed articles (industry commentary, interviews and more) of 2022!

Empathy key to Palos fourth grader's Inventor Challenge win. Three Palos area students won in their divisions after submitting games they created to the 17th Annual Young Inventor Challenge. Carrie Martinez, who taches the class at Palos West, said it’s about more than just making entertaining games. “Aside from being fun, engaging, and meaningful, the Young Inventor Challenge builds and reinforces sophisticated practices such as critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and leadership,” she said. “These essential skills are needed to be successful in the 21st century.”


We’re in a golden age of board games. It might be here to stay.  “It is undeniable — they are gaining in popularity fast,” said Elan Lee, the creator of popular card game Exploding Kittens. The global board game market has an estimated value between $11 billion and $13.4 billion and is projected to grow by about 7-11% within the next 5 yrs, according to market research companies Technavio and Imarc. 


The next toy creator could be a sixth grader. It's definitely not your average Toy Fair inside a school in Cardiff. In fact, sixth graders are creating what could be the next big hit.  It is a school project months in the making.... research, elevator pitches and all! 

Bored by board games? How your old favourites are fighting back. In a world filled with digital distractions, players’ attention spans are growing shorter. So manufacturers are making their games quicker and easier to win. The nation’s board game designers are facing a challenge greater than being able to afford a hotel on Park Lane in Monopoly. How to keep people’s attention on a pack of cards or a piece of cardboard,,,


Gizmodo's Favorite Toys of 2022. It's been a good year for putting lots of silly things on our desks and being satisfied by that. We love toys here at io9, and when we’re not writing about them, we’re probably playing with them. It’s been a killer year for cool nerdy collectibles, so here’s just a few of our favorite things we picked up in the proverbial toy aisle this past year.

It Was My Favorite Toy to Give to New Parents, Until It Went Away. The life cycle of a magical baby-soothing toy. I don’t remember who gave me the hard plastic bug with the mesmerizing light-up wings and the only infant-toy melody I’ve never gotten sick of. But I do remember how they described it: Like a drug for babies. 

The Toy Book’s 2022 Unboxed: The top 30 most-read toy industry news stories of the year. As we close out 2022, The Toy Book is taking its annual look back on the year that was. The news cycle is always an interesting beast because you can’t predict which stories are going to resonate with readers. 


The Toy Book’s 2022 Unboxed: The top 25 most-read features of the year. Original content is at the heart of The Toy Book. For nearly 40 years, our team has maintained a reputation for delivering insightful features that are packed with commentary from powerful voices within the industry. What we can’t predict is what will crack the charts to secure a coveted slot on our most-read list at the end of each year.

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History and Nostalgia

A Brief History of America’s Most Popular Table Top Dice Games. Despite the rise of online gaming, or perhaps because of it, tabletop games remain incredibly popular. From classics like backgammon to longstanding Table Top Role Playing Games (TTRPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons, these games are enjoyed by millions worldwide. Ever wondered about the origins of your favorite dice games?


Who first thought of Nintendo Game Boy? The Nintendo Game Boy debuted in Japan on April 21, 1989. It was designed by Nintendo’s Gunpei Yokoi and featured an 8-bit handheld console that supported interchangeable cartridges but only displayed games in 4 colors. On July 31, 1989, the Game Boy was bundled with Tetris and released in the U.S. On August 1, 1992, Kirby’s Dream Land became the first Nintendo game...


***The above posted after December 30th***


Who first thought of Hess Trucks? In the 1930s, Leon Hess began delivering fuel to homes in New Jersey. By 1964, he owned an empire of gas stations and wanted to give his customers a gift as a sign of goodwill. To that end, he began selling toy trucks at his Hess gas stations. Hess insisted on high-quality craftsmanship and affordability. The very first Hess truck debuted in 1964 and was a replica of the company’s first B61...

Stardust Art Sets from Hasbro (1965). In the mid-1960s, Hasbro released a line of art sets that combined the precision of paint-by-numbers with the texture of velvet flocking powder, aka Stardust. Each “new Touch of Velvet Art” set came with two pictures, six tubes of multi-coloured flocking, one feather, one peel-off stick, and a colour guide. 


Tie ‘n Tangle from Hasbro. Released in 1967 by Hasbro, Tie ‘n Tangle mimicked the party play atmosphere of Twister with a few additional props mixed in. The dexterity game challenged two to four players to literally tie their opponents into knots. Each player selected a disk and ball of the same color, along with a 12-foot length of ribbon. 


A brief Jewish history of the toy and game industry: The United States. The U.S. toy industry, for obvious reasons, doesn’t have hundreds of years of history extending before the industrial revolution that Europe experienced. Before the early 1800s, if you were a child of wealthy parents, you likely had toys purchased from overseas for you or perhaps purchased in one of the new-fangled “department stores” in a major city. 


Licensing and Entertainment 


First look: Universal Studios Hollywood powers up with Super Nintendo World. In 1981 Shigeru Miyamoto created a video game character whose entire personality was contained in what the designer first described as "16 dots by 16 dots." As that character evolved, those pixels would comprise red suspenders, a pouch of a tummy, an oversize nose, a bushy mustache and eventually a whole lot of jumpy pluckiness...

***The above posted after December 30th***

Iconic Toys and Games of 2022: The IP Rights Covering Virtual Environments, First-Person Shooters and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As each year dwindles to a close, IPWatchdog puts together a list of Iconic Toys and Games that have become wild commercial successes, thanks in large part to the patents, trademarks and copyrights protecting the commercial sale of those products. 

Expand Your LEGO Super Mario World with New Sets Launching in January. Super Mario joined the LEGO family in 2020, beginning with a Starter Course set featuring an interactive Mario figure that can make sounds and unlock special features in an app when it scans certain LEGO bricks. The collection has grown over the past few years to include more than a dozen sets featuring Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser...

People of Play


Chief Wagon Officer Robert Pasin ND ’91 keeps Radio Flyer’s wheels turning. Holding his father’s big hand, Robert Pasin walked around the Radio Flyer factory for the first time when he was 5 — starry-eyed, like a kid at Disney World. “Hearing the sound of the punch brasses and the smell of the paint, and seeing all these wagons on a conveyor line,” Pasin ’91 says today. “It just seemed very magical to me.”


Experienced toy buyer Neil Mitchell has joined online toy specialist retailer BargainMax in the role of senior buyer. Neil, who is well-known to the toy community through previous roles at Very and most recently Home Bargains, takes up his new position as from today. He can be contacted on

***The above posted after December 30th***

The Top 22 POP Profiles of 2022. These are the most visited profiles because…

  • The skills and expertise they have included in their profiles are searched often. For example, A&E's History Channel joined POP and used the Skills & Expertise search feature, to find experts for their show, The Toys that Built America.

  • They write popular articles on POP. For example, the Barbie articles Rana Schenke posted when she was our POP intern are still top performers from clicks on her profile as author.

  • Their compelling Fun Facts fuel our popular game, 3 Truths and Lie, and players click over to their profiles.

  • They are Googled, and the POP SEO shows them highly ranked on our POP website. For example, when The Toys that Built America broadcast the Marvin Glass story, new traffic on POP drove Marvin Glass straight to the top.

For those we lost in 2022, may they rest in peace and play.

‘POWER KID PODCAST’ TOP 10 EPISODES OF 2022. Host Phil Albritton of Power Kid Design delivers fresh conversations with some of the biggest names and rising stars in the toy, game, and family entertainment industries. As we close the books on 2022, we’re suggesting a replay of this year’s top 10 episodes — as chosen by you, the listeners. 

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Companies and Brands

9 fascinating details hidden inside Barbie Dreamhouses throughout history. When the Barbie Dreamhouse debuted, it was a vision of a bachelorette pad for a woman unmoored from the expectations of her day. In 1962, women were not yet allowed to have their own bank accounts, so they were not often purchasing their own homes. "But here is Barbie, owning her own Dreamhouse," Kim Culmone, Mattel's SVP...

Wizards of the Coast, most well-known for tabletop games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, revealed that it is scaling back its video game production and will be canceling several video games that were under development. It’s reported that at least five video game projects will be canceled. Wizards is a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., which suffered from a shares drop of 40% last year. 


American Girl unveiled its 2023 Girl of the Year and in a brand first, the title goes to a South Asian doll. Kavi Sharma, an Indian American from NJ, loves to sing, dance and hang out with her friends. Just a short train ride away, her favorite place to visit is NYC — specifically Broadway. Kavi, who takes weekly classical Indian dance classes, and her tight-knit family also celebrate their culture through holidays, food and clothing. 


***The above posted after December 30th***


Hot Wheels: Ten of the weirdest and most wonderful, Perhaps the most famous four-wheeled toy on the planet comes in many forms. Some costing $250k… Recently we dived into the world of Hot Wheels, exploring the creative process and the decisions behind the development of the world's most iconic and obsessively collected 'toy cars' – and the people behind them. Now, we're looking at 10 absolute favourites from the past...


Play through a life story with 'Your Best Life'. WizKids will release Your Best Life, a new flip and write game, into retail in March 2023. In Your Best Life, players will be tasked with managing their Happiness and Joy as they tackle various life choices. Players select cards on each turn with the actions on them that help build-up their character and family unit, then mark their actions on their individual and/or family sheets. 


The Mattel Children’s Foundation gives back with more than 200,000 toys donated to families in North America. This year, The Mattel Children’s Foundation, which has to date supported more than 150 nonprofits globally, donated more than 200,000 toys — estimated to be worth more than $2 million at retail — to more than 100,000 kids and families in North America. In the U.S., more than 300 Mattel employee volunteers...

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Gaming: Digital, Video, Hardware, and Development

Esports: How can they keep growing in 2023?. Whether you know your "split-push" from your "powerspike" or not, it's difficult to miss the ever growing popularity and influence of esports. With hundreds of millions playing and watching worldwide, brand partnerships with the likes of Gucci, BMW and Coca Cola, and a showcase at the Commonwealth Games - it seems that 2022 has been another successful year...


China grants publishing privileges to Gwent, Valorant, and more games. According to Reuters, China's video games regulator granted publishing licenses to 45 globally popular online games. It's the first time the country has approved international games in over a year. China is a very profitable market in the game industry, and several western developers such as Blizzard have done anything they could to...


Elden Ring was the most completed, and most quit, game of 2022. 2022 was truly the year of Elden Ring, with FromSoftware’s latest game exploding into the mainstream unlike anything it had previously created. As such, a lot of people played and finished Elden Ring. In fact, according to one set of data, Elden Ring was the most completed game of 2022. 


The Year In Gaming Apologies. From porn in Splatoon 3 streams to the PS5’s worst game shutting down, there was plenty to be sorry for in 2022. As always, video games had plenty to be sorry for this year. Big delays, busted launches, offensive remarks, you name it. None of us are perfect. Everyone’s trying to do better. Except for Babylon’s Fall. No second chances there. 


DeVito ArtWorks, GameMill Entertainment team for 'King Kong of Skull Island' video game. DeVito ArtWorks has partnered with GameMill Entertainment to create an original "King Kong" video game based on DeVito Artworks and Merian C. Cooper's original "King Kong Skull Island" property. The "King Kong" project is in development for a range of video game systems to be published by GameMill. 

Highlighted Press Releases

OCEAN FRIENDS OCTOPUS, WHALE & DOLPHIN LOOK TO PRESCHOOLERS TO FIGHT PLASTIC POLLUTION. ‘Mission Ocean’ Launches December 1st From Adventerra Games Educational Eco Line Of Board Games That Kids Play, Learn Then Prep To Save The Planet. Boston, MA (December 1, 2022) – We’ve all heard of air and noise pollution. But if our ocean friends could talk, they would sound the alarm for plastic pollution! A new board game, Mission Ocean alerts youngsters to the everyday dangers of floating plastic in our waters. The empowering nature of the fun-to-play board game has been endorsed by the global nonprofit, The Ocean Cleanup. With a roll of the wooden dice — made from FSC-certified wood — kids can imagine collecting plastic waste floating in the waves and scooping it up onto their ship.

Safety and Counterfeiting


Smart Toys Are Still Hackable (We Just Don’t Talk About It). Conversations about the cyber risk of smart, connected playthings and electronics may have been on the back burner for Christmas and Hannukah, 2022. But there’s little reason to believe that any measurable improvement has been made in the cybersecurity or privacy protections of connected toys and personal electronics. If anything, the risk is growing, as the Internet of Things extends its reach to more families, communities and businesses.

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Associations, Shows, Awards, Events, and Festivals


The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) is delighted to announce that the BTHA’s Head of Compliance Jerry Burnie has been awarded an OBE in the 2023 New Year Honours list. Jerry owns and manages his own toy safety consultancy, Independent Quality Solutions, and has been working as the BTHA’s lead toy safety consultant for many years. Heading up the BTHA’s toy safety advisory service for its 150 members...


***The above posted after December 30th***


To celebrate the 250th Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series, Konami Digital Entertainment will host simultaneous events on three continents the weekend of April 1-2, 2023, the company announced.  Events will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, at the Agora Bogota Convention Center in Bogota, Columbia, and in London at ExCeL London. Participants will receive a Game Mat and Field Center Card; winners will...

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RIP - Rest in Play - Remembering Those that have Passed

If you know of a colleague's passing, please send us information so we may share with our colleagues. Archives can be found HERE.

Tom Karen - A prolific designer who had a hand in designing a host of 1970s creations including the Raleigh Chopper, Bond Bug car and marble run toy has died. Tom Karen, who lived in Cambridge, died aged 96 on New Year's Eve surrounded by his family, a statement said. The industrial designer was born in Vienna, Austria, and arrived in England in 1942 during World War Two. A museum in Letchworth, Hertfordshire - currently hosting a dedicated exhibition - called him a "true great". In the statement confirming Mr Karen's death, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation - which runs the town's Museum at One Garden City - said he had overseen some of the UK's most iconic designs.

For years, Mr Karen's role in designing the Raleigh Chopper bike - manufactured in Nottingham - sparked controversy.

It was originally said that Raleigh's design director Alan Oakley had been on a fact-finding trip to the USA and was solely responsible, but Mr Karen said the firm later credited his contribution in helping create the children's classic.

His 1968 sketches of the bike - which sold 1.5 million units - have been stored in the archive of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Mr Karen, who was appointed OBE in 2019, was the managing director of Letchworth's Ogle Design from 1962 until 1999.

During this time, he helped design the Reliant Scimitar car, the Reliant Bond Bug - a two-seater, three-wheeled sports car that was launched at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire in 1970 - and Leyland lorry cabs.

The Bond Bug's unusual chassis formed the base of Luke Skywalker's landspeeder in Star Wars, while Ogle Design's association with Leyland resulted in Mr Karen designing one of the Popemobiles after the lorry firm was commissioned to manufacture them.

Ogle director Philip Martin said the firm was "deeply saddened" to learn of Mr Karen's death.

"He was an exceptionally talented designer and a very special man," he said.

"He was such an integral part of the Ogle success story. He pioneered so much of the work that we continue to do today, overseeing our progress from automotive designs, through the thrill of Star Wars and into aerospace.

"The company owes him a great debt of gratitude."

However, Mr Karen said one of his greatest achievements was devising the plastic marble run after watching his children play with a wooden one.

Josh Tidy, heritage manager at Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, described it as a "simple idea, perfectly realised and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of children for decades".

Museum at One Garden City has been running a retrospective of the inventor's career called Tom Karen Creations, which will continue until 10 March.

"The happy clacking sound of the marbles plopping down the latest creation has been the wonderful soundtrack of this exhibition, and filled Tom with so much joy," said Mr Tidy, who has curated the exhibition.

"His designs, artworks and sheer joie de vivre will continue to be remembered fondly for many years to come."


Archer Maclean, Commodore 64 developer, has passed away at 60 years old.  Game developer Archer Maclean recently passed away at the age of 60. Maclean was a longtime programmer and designer best known for Dropzone on the Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64.

Maclean's passing was confirmed by several members of the retro game community, who wrote that he "produced some of the [Commodore 64's] greatest heart goes out to his family."

Born January 28, 1962, Maclean's first game was the aforementioned Dropzone. Following the success of that title, he would go on to do design and graphics for 1986's International Karate (and its 1987 sequel, International Karate+), and several snooker simulation games, including Archer Maclean Presents Pool Paradise.

Several of these titles were developed at Awesome Studios, a subsidiary of the now defunct Ignition Entertainment. Maclean co-founded Awesome in 2002, and later left the developer in 2005. He went on to found Awesome Play, creators of the 2009 Nintendo Wii title Speedzone (or Wheelspin in Europe).

Though Speedzone marked the end of his time as a game developer, Maclean also wrote columns for Retro Gamer Magazine.



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ICv2: The Business of Geek Culture (US) 

WotC Will Continue OGL for 'One D&D'
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