Kesmai was a pioneering game developer and online game publisher, founded in 1981 by Kelton Flinn and John Taylor. The company was best known for the combat flight sim Air Warrior on the GEnie online service, one of the first graphical MMOGs, launched in 1987. They also developed an ASCII-based MUD, Island of Kesmai, which ran on CompuServe. Founded in 1981, Kesmai has led the online gaming industry as a developer and publisher of online-multiplayer games. The company was best known for the combat flight sim Air Warrior on the GEnie online service, one of the first graphical massive multiplayers online games (MMOG), launched in 1987. They also developed an text-based multi-user-dungon (MUD), Island of Kesmai, which ran on CompuServe.
Based in Charlottesville, VA, Kesmai was a world leader in multiplayer online games and the parent company of ARIES Online Games, Kesmai Studios and GameStorm. The company developed, published, and distributed interactive gaming content to over 12 million paying subscribers of America Online, Prodigy, CompuServe, EarthLink Network, Delphi, and major websites throughout the Internet. Popular Kesmai titles include Air Warrior, Online Casino, Harpoon Online, Legends of Kesmai, MultiPlayer BattleTech, Star Rangers Online, Stellar Emperor, CatchWord, Jack Nicklaus Online Tour and a collection of classic board and card games.
Kesmai GameStorm was unique among early online services. Instead of being a matchmaking service for players of popular retail computer games, GameStorm specialized in proprietary, online-only games for large numbers of players, but it was an expensive service charging $9.95 a month. However, it should be noted it was one of the earliest browser-based service where the player need not download the full game to play.
The company was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in 1994. The company continued to develop massively multiplayer games such as Air Warrior 2 and Legends of Kesmai. News Corp distributed their games through AOL. However, this proved a contenius countship when in 1997 Kesmai Corp. filed a suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia chargeing that AOL is exercising “monopolistic control” over on-line services and Internet access, preventing small on-line content developers, like Kesmai, from distributing its product. It was revealed by the lawyer for News Corp ( Jonathan S. Abady) that the case was settled in Kesmai favor.
Electronic Arts bought the company from News Corp in 1999, but Kesmai studios and subsidaries were closed in 2001 as changes to how online servies were sold to consumers less through services and more through cable providers interested less in making destination landing pages online.