Balance of Power is a computer strategy game of geopolitics during the Cold War, created by Chris Crawford and published in 1985 on the Apple Macintosh by Mindscape, followed by ports to a variety of platforms over the next two years.
In the game the player takes the role of the President of the United States or General Secretary of the Soviet Union. The goal is to improve the player's country's standing in the world relative to the other superpower. During each yearly turn, random events occur that may have effects on the player's international prestige. The player can choose to respond to these events in various ways, which may prompt a response from the other superpower. This creates brinkmanship situations between the two nations, potentially escalating to a nuclear war, which ends the game.
Crawford was already fairly well known for earlier games, especially Eastern Front (1941). His 1984 announcement that he was moving to the Macintosh platform to work on an entirely new idea in gaming generated considerable interest. It was widely and positively reviewed after its release, including an extremely positive review in The New York Times Magazine. It was widely praised for its inventive nonaction gameplay that was nevertheless exciting and a distinct alternative to the more common arcade games of the era. It has been named as one of the most innovative computer games of all time.
Hugely successful on the Mac, the addition of an IBM PC port late in the year made it a best seller. Ultimately selling over a quarter million units although it only ran on relatively new platforms, it represented a not-insignificant fraction of all video game sales through 1985 and 86. It spawned a number of sequels and copycats, but none of these were as successful as the original.
After Balance, Crawford began work on an entirely new game, Trust & Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot, released in 1987 and selling only a few thousand copies. Mindscape was disappointed, and pressured Crawford to do a follow-up to Balance. This was released in 1989 as Balance of Power: The 1990 Edition (sometimes referred to as Balance of Power II) on the Apple IIGS, Windows, Macintosh, Amiga and Atari ST and that is the version we got here at the Museum.