Founded in 1994 by Ian Lynch Smith with his brother Colin, Freeverse quickly became a name that everyone in the Mac shareware scene knew. In their early days, they were the perfect embodiment of the basement independent development environment that so many tiny Mac studios shared at the time. Their first release was Hearts Deluxe for the Mac, and they'd go on to ship more card and casino style games before getting involved in more gamer-games like Hordes of Orcs and even eventually porting classics like Marathon to Xbox Live Arcade.

When the iPhone launched and the App Store followed, Freeverse was in a perfect position to capitalize on this emerging market. Games like MotoChaser [$0.99] look incredibly dated by today's standards, but it was some serious cutting edge stuff back in the day. They went on to release tons of other games both developed in house and published on behalf of outside developers.

In early 2010, Freeverse was acquired by ngmoco and in an interview with ngmoco CEO Neil Young the initial plan for Freeverse didn't seem to involve the total disappearance of the company in the following months:

Addressing why they choose Freeverse, Young was very complimentary about the company and described them as "wonderful people" who shared their vision and values while also having a pool of talented people and intellectual properties that complemented Ngmoco. Freeverse will remain functionally independent and retain the Freeverse brand. According to Young, to the outside world, things won't look very different initially.

Following the acquisition, the Freeverse that Mac users spent over a decade following slowly started to vanish. Game releases stopped, the brakes got slammed on publishing, and over the next two years key Freeverse employees who had been with the company for years started leaving. Today, this is punctuated by the two founders walking away from the very company they invested so much of their life into.

It's shockingly depressing to see such a long-standing strong brand like Freeverse laying along side Atakama Labs, Lionside, Stumptown Game Machine, Miraphonic, and Rough Cookie in the graveyard of studios lying in the wake of the ngmoco business machine. So, I guess let's pour one out for Freeverse and wish Ian and Colin the best of luck on whatever it is they do next.


  • Erik Young

    They didn't have to join ngmoco. So I really don't feel sorry for them.

    • Eli Hodapp

      I'm not sure how true that is. Freeverse was in a very strange position in that they were there when the App Store launched and built a business on the assumption that prices weren't going to instantly drop to 99¢. MotoChaser launched at $5.99, and people thought that was a great price at the time.

      They had a real office in Brooklyn with real employees making real salaries with real healthcare benefits and all that expensive stuff. No one ever said anything on an official level, but it always seemed to me that Freeverse made a "deal with the devil" so to speak to not need to fire anyone when the App Store shifted so drastically to ultra-cheap mini-games and their old school business model couldn't keep up.

      IF that's actually the case, it's a pretty huge sacrifice on the part of Ian and Colin to keep the "Freeverse family" together. But, who knows, as soon as ngmoco got on board getting any actual real candid statements from anyone with the company was totally impossible.

      • Erik Young

        Here's something weird, if you go to ngmoco's website and click on games, it takes you to Mobage games. What's the story with that?

      • Paul Hopper

        Mobage is their new cash cow. Some sort of cross platform functionality between android and ios I believe.

    • Adams Immersive

      I feel sorry for all of us not getting to play the games Freeverse could have made! Maybe those games will start to appear now...

      And when they made this decision, they surely had more info than we on the outside have. They made it expecting the best, not expecting Freeverse to stagnate, and I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

      Now... time to play some Hordes of Orcs! (The Freeverse game that made me finally give tower defense a try.)

    • Frank

      they shoulda left the company as it was. da's

  • Ashley Esqueda

    Man, that's a bummer. I can only hope Ian and Colin find the next chapter quickly! 

  • Sanuku

    Let`s put it that Way - Everything is nowadays better then what Ngmoco has become. Good luck Guys...

  • c21jack

    So what is going on with ngmoco? I am so confused to how Freeverse and ngmoco are disappearing from the app store... So much money spent and nothing happened.

  • Krautboy

    You make it sound so sad while to me it sounds like the best thing happening to these guys in 2 years. I got a sneaky suspicion it won't be the last we'll hear of them. Cheers!

  • Aswat Zephyr

    they stopped updating the first Top Gun game even though its buggy as hell and keeps crashing. they just stop caring about their customers. 

    • Bruce Morrison

      Unfortunately Top Gun was under Paramount, not Freeverse.  We provided them with updates, but they were not able to get their crap together to post the updates.  They had extremely high turnover of staff.

  • Aswat Zephyr

    they stopped updating their first Top Gun which kept crashing on newer ios. that sucked. actually nowdays, there are so much rubbish on the appstore. if you live in the states, i guess dont see much asian porn apps or gambling apps such as what im seeing in the malaysian appstore.

    good games like arkham beatdowns are not available here. so i guess theres the gambling games and porno games to look at sheesh!

    • ImJPaul

      Thank God I live in the USA. That sounds terrible man. I am very sympathetic towards your debacle. And I boycotted ngmoco a long time ago and I'm glad they got out of the never ending cycle. Hopefully they get back on their feet and think of this as a fresh start. I'll be following these guys every step of the way.

  • famousringo

    Eh. Freeverse is just a brand name. Now the guys are free of the machine and can go back to making great software again.

  • zadillo

     I really wish they would have made versions of Hearts Deluxe and Spades Deluxe for iOS - still haven't found anything that matches up to those games.

  • Jeremy Price

    Sad. Burning Monkey Solitaire is still the best there ever was.

  • Soul_of_Wit

    I still have a Freeverse Hearts game on my current Mac.

  • Justin Fic

    This is super emotional news. Not only is this Ian and Colin's last day, it's also the last for Mark Levin, their long-time lead coder.
    I've been playing Freeverse's games since the beginning, when I was just a punk kid on AOL downloading Mac game demos. They kicked off my own career when they published my first game and I was stoked to join them for both Marathon XBLA and their iPhone titles. They were an awesome bunch of folks.

    I owe these guys a whole lot, and wish them the very best in whatever they do next.

  • Scamper Robinson

    No mention of WingNuts, their best game? Am I the oldest one here? I spent many happy months playing those games, and there’s still nothing like it on iOS (which is a shame, because I think it would adapt quite well).

  • dmarcoot

    That sucks. I was thinking of Hordes of Orcs just a few days ago. Sadly, this story is too common when companies are acquired. Only Bungie was smart enough to escape that I can recall.

  • dmarcoot

    Yes, burning monkey Solitaire was one of the best games ever. This really does suck as they put love into those products.

    • Capone

      I was really a fan of Freeverse back in the 90s. Games like Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab were just awesome. And not to forget Jared... 😉

  • Uh Morphous

    I'm actually excited for Ian and Colin, and for the indie Mac community. You can't keep a good indie game developer down! Here's to unfettered creativity and the freedom to rebuild. I wish them both the very best. I have a feeling they'll be regaining some of their old staff as well.

  • AweWyld

    I've been playing Freeverse's card games for nearly a decade. They are still the best designed card games I've played. After Freeverse shut down GameSmith, a core group of us continued to play local games over the internet. One of us hosts and the others join. We arrange games by Email and  there is usually a 3D Hearts Deluxe game going every night. Occasionally a Spades game will be organized. I still hold out hope some amalgam of former Freeverse personnel will come out with new card games and a new game server. Ian, Colin et al., all the best!

  • DecafTable

    If you sell out your own company you've got to be prepared for the worse. I'd like to see some companies with pride stay with it and not let greed force them into bad decisions.

  • Ell Tee

    Honestly, I don't even aware that ngmoco is still exists. Freeverse is far no better than them.