The EMAP Years
Terry Pratt was the original editor on EMAP’s pioneering Computer & Video Games magazine. In 1983, he persuaded EMAP Board members that they should set up a software publishing label, and so Beyond Software was born.
Fast-forward a few years and Beyond had an excellent reputation thanks to a clutch of innovative software titles both home grown and imported, that included the brilliant fantasy wargame ‘The Lords of Midnight’, it’s sequel ‘Doomdark’s Revenge’ as well as ‘Sorderon’s Shadow’, ‘Spy vs Spy’, ‘Shadowfire’ and it’s sequel ‘Enigma Force’ to name just a few.
Firmly established as a successful games publisher on the 8-bit platforms, Beyond Software negotiated for and got the rights to First Star’s ‘Superman vs Darkseid’ computer game. However, it was whilst Superman was being signed up that Beyond’s fate was being discussed in EMAP’s corridors of power.
Terry Pratt had handed over the reigns to Bill Delaney and was back at EMAP magazines by then, but he remembers that his boss, Gerry Murray decided that Beyond was too much of a distraction for EMAP’s core magazine publishing business. So, just over two short years after launch, the parent company decided to sell.
Gerry immediately touted Beyond to TelecomSoft; recently flush with cash after the success of the Elite conversions, and in many ways TelecomSoft looked like a kindred spirit regarding their approach to the deeper, more involved games that Beyond also published.
From BT’s perspective, buying Beyond appeared to be a good deal. The label had an excellent and innovative reputation in the industry, and it appeared to have good prospects for the future with some interesting home-grown titles in development and ‘Superman’ (via First Star) on the horizon. With this portfolio in mind, BT’s Ederyn Williams proposed the purchase to the BT hierarchy, and they agreed.
Once Beyond was put up for sale, Terry Pratt’ explained to EMAP staff that they were selling Beyond Software to BT. Terry remembers the computer magazines were very upset about it. They really liked Beyond. By the time Bill Delaney was informed of EMAP’s decision, the sale to BT was all but signed. The staff at Beyond were not at all happy about the idea. A Management Buy Out (MBO) was briefly discussed, but negotiations with BT had already gone too far for that approach to have succeeded. They feared that the company would lose its identity and disappear, subsumed by BT.
In late 1985, Beyond Software was sold by EMAP to BT for just under £1,000,000. In early ’86 the business was moved lock, stock and barrel to BT’s offices in Upper St Martin’s Lane, less than 2 miles away from the EMAP offices in Farringdon.