Kalypso Media co-founder and MD dies at 46

The late Simon Hellwig, co-founder of Kalypso Media.
(Image credit: Kalypso Media)

Simon Hellwig, the co-founder, majority shareholder and managing director of the publisher Kalypso Media, has died at the age of 46. The news was announced via a statement from Kalypso's official accounts reading, in part:

"Simon's business acumen and affection for the video games industry began from an early age. Whilst others were developing homemade games in their bedrooms, Simon instead would buy and sell them to magazines. His love of one of the earliest play-by-mail strategy games, Gladius et Pilum, not only combined his interests in gaming and history but also established a lifelong passion for historical strategy games.

"This enthusiasm for the industry culminated in his diploma thesis 'Development of a Business Plan for the Foundation of a Company in the Entertainment Software Industry' which would go on to define the expectations and aims of the Kalypso Media Group. These goals were met and exceeded over the last sixteen years, in which Simon and his team grew Kalypso to become a name in the industry that continues to stand for quality strategy and simulation games."

Kalypso's official statement is bordered by a stylised black ribbon, which is the symbol of melanoma awareness. 

Kalypso is probably best-known for the Tropico series, a humorous city builder/politics sim where you run a banana republic as El Presidente, trying to keep everything going while squeezing as much cash as possible out of the global superpowers trying to use you as a proxy. It bought Tropico from Take-Two in 2008, with Tropico 3 being the first entry under the publisher's aegis (the series is now up to Tropico 6).

The portfolio is wide indeed, including plenty of strategy gold like the recent Commandos 2 remake, but with a smattering of oddities along the way, like its involvement in publishing the MMO Darktide in Europe or the shooter Sine Mora.

"Kalypso Media has lost a hugely respected leader and friend," reads the statement. "Throughout his sixteen years at the helm, Simon has consistently inspired those around him with his dedication to his team, the company and the industry at large. His brilliant vision and endless enthusiasm knew no bounds and he will be sorely missed by his family at Kalypso Media and friends within the industry."

As per Hellwig's planned succession, Dr. Anika Thun is now managing director of Kalypso Media. The company now employs over 200 people worldwide and has offices in Germany, England, France, Japan and North America. Among its ongoing projects are Tortuga: A Pirate's Tale, Tropico 7, and a new Commandos title.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."