History of the Total Entertainment Network

TEN web site as it existed in June, 1997

The Total Entertainment Network was founded in 1995 through the merger of Outland, the first commercial game network available on the Internet, and Planet Optigon, another small company based in Emeryville, CA. Users paid between $10 and $30 a month for access to TEN's library of exclusive and nonexclusive games, which were generally PC titles that were adapted for online Internet play.

TEN's most popular titles were Duke Nukem 3D, NASCAR Racing Online, Magic: The Gathering, Total Annihilation, and Dark Sun Online. At its height, there were over 25 thousand paid subscribers, with peak simultaneous usage ranging between 1-2 thousand players in the evening hours. In this era before widespread broadband availability and adoption, a key competitive advantage was relatively high quality online play through dial-up connections provided by the Concentric Network, servers distributed at the Internet peering points, as well as games that were optimized specifically for WAN latency conditions.

After the rise of free online play through such venues as BattleNet, TEN was forced to change its business model. The company switched its offering to a suite of web games and renamed itself to Pogo.com. The PC gaming service was shut down in October, 1999, but the web game business grew dramatically. In 2001, Pogo.com was acquired by Electronic Arts, the dominant video game publisher of the era. Several years later, Pogo ranked as one of the top ten Internet sites in the U.S. measured by time spent online.