ICE was incorporated in 1980 shortly after the principal founders graduated from the University of Virginia. ICE began by publishing a series of rules supplements, beginning with "Arms Law", which were intended to serve as modular add-ons to other RPG systems offering greater detail. In time these supplements were tied together to form a RPG system of their own, Rolemaster. The company enjoyed a sudden jump in status when it acquired the license to produce an official fantasy RPG based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth, which would come to be known as MERP ("Middle-earth Role Playing"). According to some interpretations, at the time of its publication ICE's Middle-earth Role Playing was the second best selling fantasy RPG after TSR's Dungeons & Dragons. ICE then added the science fiction RPGs Spacemaster and Cyberspace to its line, and, with the rise of collectible card games, the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game. ICE also published a moderately successful space miniatures battle game called Silent Death, based on Spacemaster but with simpler mechanics. Silent Death was released in two major editions, with supplemental books and a fair number of paintable lead miniatures.
Despite ICE's many successes, in 1997 ICE suffered financial difficulties from a rapid decline in its distribution net; nearly 70% of ICE's distributors either went bankrupt or became moribund. The company entered bankruptcy and filed for Chapter 7 in October of 2000. This bankruptcy cost ICE the Middle-earth license, ending both the MERP and CCG lines.
In December of 2001, ICE's assets were purchased by Aurigas Aldebaron LLC, an intellectual property ownership company backed by several wealthy individuals. The new owners license the Iron Crown Enterprise name and other assets to Mjolnir LLC.