Initial Thoughts on Suspending Harpoon Operations

I’m going to be posting some thoughts about the milestone event of “tying up” the commercial Harpoon Commander’s Edition and Advanced Naval Warfare product(s) after more than 25 years.  Matrix will continue to sell the Harpoon Ultimate Edition .  It’s just AGSI (and friends) will no longer maintain them.  Further, AGSI will continue to support the Harpoon 3 Professional (H3 MilSim) product as long as there is active demand.  See our website for more information (

The original Harpoon was ~20 man years effort, Harpoon II was around 10 man years  Since then both products have had quite a bit more effort invested in them.   Today, developers have access to several different graphic libraries, unlimited CPU, storage, Ram, GPU’s, the internet, digital maps, and collections of unit image libraries.  

NONE of these existed in 1987-1989 when the first Harpoon was shoe horned into 8088 powered machines using 640×350 4 color CGA displays using only integer math, 640k of RAM and 5.25″ floppy disks.  Every unit was hand drawn, the maps where hand digitized, and we had to write some of the graphic libraries ourselves.  That is why the older game took more staff time.

We made the decision over 25 years ago to focus on simulation accuracy, precision, and utility as our graphics were state of the art at that time. Today, the market’s taste has changed and we were not successful in building a business case to develop The Next Generation Harpoon.

When most of us started on this journey we were young, single, childless, and the Internet didn’t bring trolls into our faces.  The market wasn’t filled with competing “I don’t want to think” products, phones only had buttons, music came on cassettes.  Facebook, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and those pesky Birds didn’t exist either to compete for the time and minds of the world.

I’m going to wrap this up based on a comment my wife made one evening when she came into my home office, looked at the original “Tom Frisina” Harpoon poster and asked “He’s been serving for over 25 years, can’t he retire?”.

I wonder what kind of email I’ll receive now.  Will there be people saying “thanks”, or people who think they can be the next Byron or Jesse?  Maybe silence because they are all busy playing the new Matrix product?  I don’t have any expectations.

I’m going to start inventorying all the Harpoon historical artifacts.  I’ve had two different Universities ask for the material.  I see no reason to keep it in my house (well aside from the poster and a few boxed copies).  I have notebooks, source code on floppy, micro disk, CD and DVD.

A long time “Harpoon Head” sent me about a dozen of the original “Tom Frisina” posters.  That’s the one with the Navy caption with the sunglasses reflecting a ship, a sub and an aircraft.  The top read “NATO vs USSR”.  It is a brilliant and powerful poster.  The reason we call it the “Tom Frisina poster” is two fold.  One, Tom Frisina was the President and marketing wizard who positioned the original 1989 release and … we all swear Tom was the model for the officer!  I think I’ll auction them off sometime in the future – I’d like to collect some autographs on them first….



5 Responses to Initial Thoughts on Suspending Harpoon Operations

  1. Thanks for all your hard work over these years.

  2. Ronald Munie says:

    Thank you for a great effort. It is a bit sad though, I have to admit. The game still holds a place, really, in my heart, for the way it helped shape me.

  3. Chaco says:

    Thank you for Harpoon. I haven’t played it in years, but can still see the ghost images from the 6″ black and white screen of my Mac+: the Soviets vampires closing on my battlegroup; the sub contacts around Iceland; and trying to squeeze as much range out of a Tornado as I could over the North Sea. What a great ride. Thank you. Best wishes, and squeeze as much range and beauty as you can out of the life ahead of you.


  4. Marco says:

    Yes, we live in a fast-pace time and I could not express it myself better when you say “I don’t want to think” products,

    It’s sad…I’ve played the original Harpoon on the Amiga when I was a teenager…the cold war was in its final stage and this sim – together with other great games like RedStormRising and the great novels from Tom Clancy boosted my interest in naval warfare and naval history.

    I cannot judge if CMNO is now a worthy successor – since I do not own it, yet.

    The question for me is who would buy the license of Harpoon now …? Wouldn’t it make it much more sense to create Harpoon from scratch ? But yeah, who should finance this…

  5. Jeff says:

    Thank you for all of your tireless work making Harpoon. I was a teenager when the original launched and I often site it as one of the primary reasons I joined the silent service. I mourn the dearth of modern naval combat simulations like Harpoon and Red Storm. I have many fond memories of playing Harpoon for hours and hours in my youth. Thanks again.

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