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Ocean Software co-founder David Ward passes away at 75

Ocean Software had a prolific history in home console ports of arcade games and licensed games based on franchises like RoboCop.

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A legend of the gaming industry has passed away. David Ward, who helped found Ocean Software, has died at 75 years of age. Ocean Software was a prolific force in gaming in the 1990s, building a massive library of published and developed arcade ports, licensed games, and further titles.

Ward’s passing was announced by his son, who posted of his death on May 9, 2022 via Twitter. There was no detail on what caused David Ward’s death, but Ben Ward’s posting of his father’s year of birth put David at 75 years old.

“Sad to report that my father David Ward has died,” Ben wrote. “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.”

It was David Ward's son, Ben Ward, that shared news of his passing via Twitter.
It was David Ward's son, Ben Ward, that shared news of his passing via Twitter.

David Ward created Ocean Software with co-founder Jon Woods. It began as Spectrum Games and distributed clones of popular arcade games for the  ZX81, ZX Spectrum, and VIC-20 home computer systems. However, David and Woods eventually rebranded to the iconic name and built an empire of home console ports of popular arcade games like Arkanoid and Berzerk, as well as a massive library of licensed games both developed and published. Ocean’s efforts in gaming produced some of the first and most successful games in franchises such as Batman, RoboCop, and Jurassic Park.

Ocean Software would eventually merge with Infogrames and be rebranded first to Infogrames United Kingdom and then to Atari United Kingdom Limited. The current rights and assets of everything Ocean Software was is currently under the control of Bandai Namco UK.

Nonetheless, Ocean Software was one of the most prolific publisher/developers of the 1990s and 1980s, earning awards throughout its existence in throughout the industry. We have plenty of Batman and other DC games to look forward to in the immediate future, but Ocean was an early pioneer of the licensed gaming scene and Ward was one of the pathfinders that lead it there. Shacknews wishes the best to Ward’s family and friends during this time.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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