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Obituary: Ocean Software co-founder David Ward dies at age 75

Ward co-founded Ocean Software, which was well-known in the United Kingdom for its array of ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 titles.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

May 9, 2022

1 Min Read
A photograph of David Ward, with cover art for Short Circuit and Daley Thompson's Decathalon.
Images via MobyGames

David Ward, who co-founded Spectrum Games in 1983 (which would later become Ocean Software) has died at age 75.

Ward's passing was announced by his son Ben Ward. Colleagues, friends, and family on social media described him as a legendary fixture of the United Kingdom game industry. Ocean Software had its heyday in the era of ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 games. He helped shepherd games like Daley Thompson's DecathalonRambo: First Blood Part II, and Short Circuit across the finish line. 

As the U.K.'s Science and Industry Museum notes, Ward and Ocean Games found a successful model for the video game business in an era when its competitors began to flounder. Part of the company's success was built on acquiring cheap licenses for popular films and producing games based on them. 

Ocean Software technically still exists today, though that's because it was purchased by Infrogames in the late '90s. Today, Infrogames is better known as, ironically enough, Atari SA.

In 2004, Ward and Ocean Software co-founder Jon Woods were inducted into the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (better known today as The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, or Ukie) Hall of Fame. ELSPA director general Roger Bennett credited the pair for coining "the terminology of the games industry" and laying the foundation for licensed game adaptations that is still in use today. 

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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