Catapult Entertainment Networked Interactive Game Service

Multiplayer game networks were just starting to pick up momentum in the 1990s. The World Wide Web had yet to emerge as a platform for interactive gameplay, so the only option was to subscribe to a proprietary game network service.

Catapult Entertainment seemed poised to be a leader in that category. Its management was like a supergroup of executives from Sony, General Magic, and game publisher T-HQ. It had several big-name financial backers including Blockbuster Entertainment.

Source: Catapult Entertainment, 1994

Owners of the Sega Genesis or Nintendo SNES game consoles could subscribe to Catapult for $5 to $10 a month. They received an XBand modem, shown in the photo, that provided network access through the console. The modem was produced by General Instruments.

The Catapult service had some features common on today’s web-based multiplayer games: game play advice, player rankings, the ability to message other players, and a list of players waiting to play. Every player had to own a copy of the game before they could play.

A limited number of games that supported the service, glitchy game play, and relatively few subscribers (believed to be no more than 15,000) were among the factors that doomed the service several years after its launch on June 7, 1994.