If like me you’ve been playing sims for a while you will have no doubt played games made by, or at least heard of Microprose. My very first serious flight simulation was Microprose Gunship on the ZX Spectrum. That game got me hooked and was soon followed by F-19 Stealth Fighter and then just about every other Microprose game they made as I transitioned from ZX spectrum, Commodore Amiga and then PC.
Back then Microprose was famous for delivering its products in glossy cardboard boxes with chunky in-depth manuals. In each manual there would be a picture and brief bio of their charismatic CEO ‘Wild’ Bill Stealey a former Lt Col. in the USAF.
Its hard to believe that a company so highly regarded and with such a strong following fell on hard times but as the industry moved on and gamers were exploring new avenues with the advent of first person 3D shooters and RPG’s the big publishers didn’t seem to have an appetite for producing new games for a niche market. In 1993 Microprose ceased being an independent and merged with Spectrum Holobyte and then Hasbro in 1998 and finally Infogrames in 2001.
Falcon 4.0 was the last big title to bear the Microprose name. It launched in 1998 to very mixed reviews and struggled with numerous bugs and issues that were slowly patched but ceased to be supported when the studio was closed down. The sourced code was leaked a couple of years later and to this day sim fans still play Falcon 4.0 using a community developed very commonly referred to as Falcon 4.0 BMS.
‘Wild’ Bill Stealey surfaced again with Interactive Magic and then iEntertainment – the company that bought the online WW2 flight simulation ‘Warbirds’ from ICI Games. Not much is known about this ‘new’ Microprose or if Bill Stealey has anything to do with it but they have released a few interesting screenshots on their Twitter account and more titbits can be found on their official web-site.