Ocean Software Co-Founder David Ward Dies

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We’re sad to report the death of Ocean Software’s David Ward, who with co-founder Jon Woods changed the face of videogaming on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Look at any collection of retro games up for sale on eBay or Facebook and there is a good chance that you’ll find a game from the Ocean Software label. Running from 1983 to 1998, the company was eventually swallowed into Infogrames, with the library currently owned by Piko Interactive, Throwback Entertainment, Ziggurat Interactive, and Tommo.

It is the Ocean games library that is most important to the story of gaming in the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Along with original titles like Daley Thompson’s Decathlon and Head Over Heels, Ocean Software incredibly managed to grab licenses for Hollywood properties and arcade conversions. Think The Addams Family, the Robocop series, Batman: The Movie, Chase HQ, Midnight Resistance, and Arkanoid, and Green Beret.

Ocean Software built its library – which included some good and bad games – by taking risks and grabbing licenses before the idea of videogame licensing had become part of the Hollywood marketing synergy. Those risks (which included a deal with Daley Thompson before he won his Olympic gold in 1984) were made by Jon Woods and David Ward, who co-founded Ocean Software in Manchester, focusing initially on ZX Spectrum, Oric 1, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, MSX, and others before expanding into 16-bit and consoles as the company grew.

David Ward’s passing was announced by his son, Ben, on Twitter.

Sad to report that my father David Ward has died. Born in 1947, he was a computer games pioneer & father of six. We had a complicated relationship & we loved each other. Will miss you Pop.

Ocean Software’s business model lead the industry, at one point becoming one of the biggest home computer and home console publishers in the world. To learn more about their impact, check the video above.

In Memoriam: David Ward, 1947-2022