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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 11:02 GMT
Games retailer saves BarrysWorld
BarrysWorld logo  BBC
BarrysWorld: Victim of poor investor sentiment despite sticking to business plan
Electronics Boutique, the games retailer, has saved BarrysWorld, the popular online gaming site that went into liquidation last month.

The High Street chain said it had bought the company's assets for 400,000 and would promote BarrysWorld's services through its websites and 300 stores.

"Online gaming complements our existing business and we are delighted to be able to bring this additional service to our customers," EB chief executive John Steinbrecher was quoted by the online internet news site The Register as saying.

In a notice posted on the BarrysWorld website, co-founder "TedTheDog" said the service was now "in a position to pay its way and grow" although it would be "uneconomical" to retain all the company's 35 staff.

"It's up to EB to recruit the staff they feel are required to run it."

BarrysWorld, which had claimed to have 300,000 regular users, last month said it had run out of money and was going into voluntary liquidation.

Devoted fan base

In contrast to many collapsed dot.coms which failed to attract and keep customers, BarrysWorld had a devoted and loyal fan base.

It claimed that 300,000 people regularly logged on to fight each other in online games such as Counter Strike, Half Life and Quake.

Many fans joined together in teams or clans and challenged other groups in tournaments.

Announcing the closure of BarrysWorld, chief executive Ade Brownlow had defended the company's performance to BBC News Online, saying its closure was because of poor investor sentiment towards internet or games-related companies in general rather than any failing of its own making.

He said BarrysWorld had a long-term business plan that it had been keeping to, but the change in stock market sentiment had scared off investors that would have provided funds to keep it going until it hit profitability.

Venture capital guarantee

The British gaming site started in February 1998 and in the early days was run by hobbyists. It only received its first injection of funds last year.

In April, venture capital company 3i provided 1m, and guaranteed that a further 2m would be forthcoming.

Half of this was to come from 3i itself and the rest would be found from other partners.

Ironically BarrysWorld ran out of money at a time when it was starting to set up systems that were beginning to bring in more money.

Pay-per-play

Mr Brownlow said a service that let game clans book servers on which to play was regularly over-subscribed. Other fee-paying services were soon to follow, he said.

An open letter to users in January had contained a plea for any potential rescuers to get in touch. Mr Brownlow said he was aware that some companies had been in touch with a view to acquiring BarrysWorld but could not say whether any would resurrect the service.

Many research reports and analysts have cited games and the communities that grow up around them as one area of internet-related business likely to survive and be profitable.

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See also:

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