Ocean Software co-founder David Ward dies at 75

David Ward Batman The Caped Crusader box art
Another UK legend passes away (pic: Metro.co.uk)

Many are expressing condolences and sharing tributes to the recently deceased David Ward, a pioneer within the UK games industry.

Younger gamers are unlikely to recognise the name, but if you were an avid video game fan during the 80s and 90s, you’re definitely be familiar with Ocean Software.

Sadly, its name hasn’t popped back up due to a revival or anything as welcome as that. Instead, it’s because one of its founders, David Ward, has sadly died at the age of 75.

The news broke courtesy of his son, Ben Ward, via Twitter, who wrote ‘Sad to report that my father David Ward has died. Born in 1947, he was a computer games pioneer and father of six. We had a complicated relationship and we loved each other. Will miss you Pop.’

Ward founded Ocean Software alongside Jon Woods in 1983. It was initially called Spectrum Games and released clones of arcade games like Frogger for home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.

The company later changed its name and went on to release many well-received licensed games based on popular movies, which Ward served as producer on.

Such games included ones based on RoboCop, Rambo, as well as three Batman games. Two of them were tie-ins to the Tim Burton movies, but a wholly original action game titled Batman: The Caped Crusader preceded both of them.

It also published a number of arcade conversions in Europe, ranging from Rainbo Islands to Midnight Resistance, and even Donkey Kong.

Ocean also published original titles too, including Sensible Software’s Wizball and the Match Day series.

The Manchester based company went on to become one of the biggest game publishers in all of Europe, before it was bought out by Infogrames in 1996. It was shut down only two years later.

Ward himself was considered a pioneer within the industry, with some figures coming out to express their condolences.

‘Another legend of the UK games industry has gone,’ tweeted Andy Payne, vice president of the Special Effect charity.

‘David Ward had such an effect on so many of us in the games industry. His impact can still be seen globally but particularly in the Manchester games scene,’ said GamesAid Trustee Gina Jackson.

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