[Musings of a Game Store Owner] Dead Games

As a FLGS owner, I see plenty of games come and go. Some of that flux is due to local purchasing patterns and interest levels (sometimes called “meta” by those internet weirdos) and some of that is because a game in question doesn’t exist anymore.

I have a pretty long list of games that just -aren’t there- anymore, just from the past couple years. My list could get longer if I go back to when the store opened, and even longer if I go back further than that.

We get requests for and questions about “dead” games all the time. In many cases, our customers really do expect (or hope) that we have “insider information” on why a game has shut down or isn’t readily available for them to buy. Sometimes we do have some info and sometimes we plain don’t know.

Recently I have seen an attitude in comments that kind of implies ANY game company other than GW can and does have a shot at success now. There does seem to be a provision that as long as the company has a visible website and somewhat cool models, they will have a legitimate shot at moderate success. I think this is a pretty recent thing that wasn’t true even just a couple years ago.

While there have been companies who tried to make it before, lots of them are just out of business. Rackham is one that went down huge. from supply issues, to language barriers (I am hoping Corvus Belli learns from this one), to customs problems, new editions ( I think this one is a curse for nearly every company out there)- there were too many problems to list.

The mere existence of AT-43 and Confrontation in the marketplace years before Privateer Press became a powerhouse is an important landmark for plenty of upstarts. A lot of credit is given to PP for blazing the trail for “non-GW” companies in the miniatures market, but there were others out there doing that stuff before PP. There were other companies out there that were trying to break down the walls built up by GW, but didn’t get through.

Maybe it was because they didn’t get enough exposure. Even just a few years ago the internet didn’t offer the same hobby vibe as it does now (at least from what I have seen) and many games just didn’t get any traction.

Where is Alkemy today? What happened there? Why can’t I get WOD anymore? What happened to DOJ that they couldn’t publish games for almost three years? All of these questions (and more) are part of the bigger picture of the gaming economy. There are no easy answers. It’s not like it’s ONE single element that causes a game or company to go south. However,  there’s definitely an idea that all a company needs to do is “be awesome” and poof, they can sell lots of games and make crazy money.

Hobby blogs, forums, the strange life cycle of FTW and places like HOP have really encouraged and empowered gamers to explore and write about new games. The freedom to discuss new shiny stuff has encouraged others to do the same.  Kickstarter and/or social media have had some to do with how well games get noticed as well. This openness and interest in new stuff has made it easier for new games to make it, and then they get talked about on the net. Some crazy cycle, huh?

So what makes a game go bad? When do you finally give up on a game that you think has promise? What have you seen a company do to make itself go under?

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