What's inside?

Shareware Heroes takes readers on a deep-but-accessible narrative journey through the golden age of shareware and its part in the rise of indie games publishing and development.

Long before Steam, GOG, or the App Store, and even further back from the emergence of microtransactions and in-app purchases, shareware introduced such ideas as "try before you buy" and "pay to unlock more content". And it was a huge success, with thousands of games, apps, and utilities sold under the model. Very few shareware game authors were able to earn a living from the model, but those who did could make a fortune — and some of them changed both the games industry and entertainment at large with their product.

This is the story of those heroes of the shareware age — the people who changed the world, the ones who tried but failed, and the creatives who just wanted to make something they loved.

The book draws its narrative from a blend of interviews and archival research. People interviewed include:

  • Scott Miller (Apogee and 3D Realms founder)
  • John Romero (id Software co-founder)
  • Ken Silverman( Build engine creator)
  • David Gray (Hugo's House of Horrors creator)
  • William Soleau (Soleau Software founder)
  • Bob Ostrander (Public Brand Software founder)
  • Dave Dobson (Snood creator)
  • Glenn Brensinger (Former Software Creations sysop)
  • Scott Swedorski (TUCOWS founder)
  • Tom Warfield (Pretty Good Solitaire creator)
  • Andrew Welch (Ambrosia Software founder)
  • Ian Lynch Smith (Freeverse Software founder)
  • Joe Siegler (Former Apogee/3D Realms community manager)
  • Rick Holzgrafe (Scarab of Ra creator)
  • John Passfield (Halloween Harry/Alien Carnage designer)
  • Chris Snyder (The son of MVP Software founder Dave Snyder)
  • Alan Farmer (Willy the Worm creator)
  • Ian Scott (Grandad and the Quest for the Holey Vest creator)
  • Meinolf Amekudzi (Oxyd creator)
  • Mike Denio (Captain Comic creator) [very briefly, as he didn't want to be interviewed]
  • Ste Cork (Overkill creator)
  • Al Evans (Cap'n Magneto creator, now deceased)
  • ...and more than 20 other people who made or sold or wrote about shareware in the 1980s and 90s

[still to come - highlights, games and people/companies covered, etc]


Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 - An Experiment in Economics
  • Chapter 2 - Copy That Floppy
  • Chapter 3 - 'Pizza and Beer' Money
  • Chapter 4 - Licenceware
  • Chapter 5 - The Apogee Model
  • Chapter 6 - Invasion of the Vorticons
  • Chapter 7 - Epic MegaGames
  • Chapter 8 - Experimental, Experiential Weirdness
  • Chapter 9 - Ideas from the Deep
  • Chapter 10 - Maelstrom
  • Chapter 11 - DOOM
  • Chapter 12 - Shareware Edition
  • Chapter 13 - Pretty Good Shareware
  • Chapter 14 - Fade Out
  • Coda — Free To Play
  • Developer Spotlights

Out now in the UK, US, and Canada.

Buy your copy

Paperback or DRM-free ebook Bookshop.org (Paperback) Amazon UK (Paperback or Kindle) US Kindle edition Book Depository (Paperback) Amazon US (Paperback) Audible Audiobooks.com



(While you wait, you can play with the Classic Mac-themed website for my other book.)