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> The Great CGL Rumors and Speculation Thread
FrankTrollman
post Mar 16 2010, 07:30 PM
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OK, as you may well have been able to surmise from release schedules, Catalyst Game Labs is in a bit of a financial pickle, and it is somewhat unlikely that they will retain the license to make Shadowrun products. This is not because Shadowrun hasn't been selling enough to cover expenses, but merely because a significant quantity of money is missing outright. Reliable sources put this figure at roughly $850,000. Which sounds like a lot, and it is. It is roughly 40% of Catalyst's entire sales for last year, missing over a three year period. There will of course be lawsuits, and there are already people drawing up legal documents accusing Loren Coleman of having hired people to construct an extension on his house through the company as "freelance writers" and somehow reporting an estimated $100,000 of convention sales as $6,000. Whether that is actually true or not is - of course - a matter for the courts to decide. And decide they presumably will.

But what that means for Catalyst as a company is pretty bad. It costs several dollars to print a book even when the pdfs are finished and ready for publication. A print run of say, 50,000 books (like the print run of Runner Havens) would cost somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000 to print and ship to distributors. And while it eventually sold to distributors at ~$15 a book (a total take home of $750,000), it did so over a period of three years, during which time they were paying interest on loans and paying for storage, and advertisement and so on and so forth. A book like that isn't actually taking home half a million in profits. Which is a bad thing, because it means that even if there was a complete book printed and ready to sell, even a total and rapid sell through would not pull the company out of the financial hole it is in - and the shortfall means that it does not have the cash on hand to start the ball rolling with a new major printing.

The tiny amount of drachmas that are left in the coffers are being used to print up tiny print runs of books that have sold through - another 3,000 books of Runner's Companion for example (~$15,000 to start up, maybe $30-40k towards paying creditors if it sells out). There simply is not the startup cash to bring upcoming books like the SR4 sixth world almanac or corporate guide forward. The writing is there, but the printing costs are not. Beyond that, the freelancers have not been paid, and some of them are withholding copyright until they are - meaning that even a tiny print run of these new materials is simply not possible.

Many SR writers are quitting, have already quit, or have handed in notices contingent on demands which - word on the street - will not be met. And CGL does not even own Shadowrun, it leases the intellectual property from Topps. It seems unlikely that they will be able to make their licensing payment when the contract comes up for renewal - in a couple of months. At that time, CGL will cease being able to print Shadowrun or Battletech materials (they would presumably keep the license to Cthulhutech and Eclipse Phase for at least a little while longer, because those are separate contracts).

So what does this mean for the future of Shadowrun? It probably means that someone else will create a company and start making Shadowrun again. After all, freelancers work for very little, and a well selling book can bring in tens of thousands of dollars in profits. $850,000 of embezzlement is seemingly enough to sink the company (whoever ended up with the credsticks), but I must point out that there was indeed eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars to steal, so Shadowrun is not - as a concept - insoluble. And I also point out that something similar happened to Shadowrun before. Indeed, twice before, as both FanPro and FASA before it collapsed under the weight of people not paying debts and having bags with dollar bill signs vanish mysteriously in the middle of the night. It's somewhat... poetic considering the subject matter of the game itself.

It is entirely probable indeed that when a new company comes to take the licence, many familiar faces will appear in the new company as if they had never left. Certainly back when FanPro collapsed back when I was working for the company, I simply started working for the new company as if nothing had changed. This happened back when FASA collapsed as well - those members of the team that were not extracted by Microsoft simply started turning in writing assignments to the new boss.

And yeah, I regularly go on shadowruns against Catalyst to find out what new releases are in store. Don't you?

-Frank
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Ancient History
post Mar 16 2010, 07:45 PM
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Before anyone calls bullshit on Frank for this, I would like to confirm that what he has stated is absolutely in line with the rumors I have heard from CGL employees. I don't want to name names on this, but my understanding of the situation is that it is that bad. CGL has put out some wonderful books, but I don't believe it can survive a malfeasance of this magnitude.
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bmcoomes
post Mar 16 2010, 07:50 PM
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OK, how about a fundraiser for them. I know I can use the tax write off.

Brent
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HeySparky
post Mar 16 2010, 07:51 PM
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Ummm... a fundraiser to give monies to people who squander them? No, thanks.

Assuming this is true, of course.

EDIT: Not calling BS on Frank, btw. Just hopeful scepticism.
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bmcoomes
post Mar 16 2010, 07:52 PM
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it wasn't squandered it was stolen.
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knasser
post Mar 16 2010, 07:52 PM
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Wow. I guess first thing to say is thank you for being so forthcoming with details and specifics. The worst possible thing for us is to not know what's going on or to have to live off rumours. I guess the second thing is to be glad of the optimism in your post. Shadowrun has been through company failure before. Hopefully it will do it again.

I guess I have the following questions which you may or may not be able to answer. I expect others share some of the same questions.

Given that it seems certain there aren't going to be any upcoming print runs, what's the availability of Shadowrun books going to be like? Are there still substantial stocks lying around and if there are, is there going to be a company still shipping them out to FLGS, etc? I know that's a compound question because the answer will be different for different books, but any general answers (or specific ones) you can answer would be interesting. For example, I was holding off from Arsenal for a second printing but if it's going to start disappearing, I'll grab it. (I was also holding out from Augmentation in the hope that it would get printed with a less awful cover, but that's a different issue).

Is this going to affect PDF sellers - i.e. presumably we can still buy things from Battlecorps and DriveThruRPG.com?

Does this affect fiction rights? When I made enquiries previously, I understood that game and fiction rights were separate. However, when I previously enquired about fiction, I was directed to approach said Loren Coleman. Do you know who the current rights holder for fiction line is and if they have any active licencees for this? It's an outlying chance, but it's not impossible that I might have some interest in this.

Do you have any inkling as to what Topps' approach to this matter will be regarding re-licencing. Basically, at what point are they going to say: "this licence is available, make us an offer" or is it going to remain tied up with Catalyst? Presumably Catalyst have licenced it for a set period and this is already paid for? Do you know when the licence would expire / be forfeit?

That's all I can think of for now. I don't know how many of those you'll be able to answer. I hope you personally aren't caught up too much in being unpaid for any of your own work. I really feel for all the developers - they've done an amazing job with 4th Edition. All I can say on this is if Shadowrun could pull through these sorts of problems with previous editions, then it ought to with 4th which is an amazing piece of work on everyone's parts.

Thanks for telling us all this,

Khadim.
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Nifft
post Mar 16 2010, 07:56 PM
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I'll be happy enough if Shadowrun survives.

Thanks for the news.
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Ancient History
post Mar 16 2010, 07:57 PM
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Khadim, I'd like to be able to answer your questions, but I cannot. FrankTrollman as you all may know is a former freelancer for Shadowrun; he probably heard the rumors making the rounds and decided that the fans have the right to know. As a freelancer myself, I have very little contact with the business end of things and cannot answer your questions, only the people at CGL can.
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Stahlseele
post Mar 16 2010, 07:59 PM
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I can't help but appreciate the irony . .
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darthmord
post Mar 16 2010, 08:02 PM
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What does this mean for those of us who have a 1+ year old pre-order for a book that has yet to be fulfilled?


I've got my own suspicions as to what it means but... I'd rather not be a pessimist.
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knasser
post Mar 16 2010, 08:04 PM
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QUOTE (Ancient History @ Mar 16 2010, 07:57 PM) *
Khadim, I'd like to be able to answer your questions, but I cannot. FrankTrollman as you all may know is a former freelancer for Shadowrun; he probably heard the rumors making the rounds and decided that the fans have the right to know. As a freelancer myself, I have very little contact with the business end of things and cannot answer your questions, only the people at CGL can.


I figured that could be the case, but there's no harm in asking. And Frank has always been fairly ready to tell things how they are to everybody. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)

This is a real shame. A real shame on anyone who would selfishly take away from thousands of people's time and enjoyment in these products which now we don't know when or if we'll get, to get themselves a house extension or whatever. And a shame for all the people who've put work in and not been paid. Like Frank, I hope you personally haven't been caught by this, though you very likely have if anyone has, given your output.

Right now I feel sad about this. It will probably turn to anger soon. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/frown.gif)

K.
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Mar 16 2010, 08:08 PM
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QUOTE (knasser @ Mar 16 2010, 09:04 PM) *
This is a real shame.

That's an understatement, quite honestly: Products like the 6th World Almanach or Corporate Guide are pretty much essential to newcomers that simply won't have the whole old background material available.
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Warlordtheft
post Mar 16 2010, 08:09 PM
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Wow....thanks for the information. Do you know where the lawsuit is being filed or if there is any place we can follow this development? (I realize that it just might be dumpshock postings by those in the know). I'm sure all the catalyst staff that post here have been told to not discuss with the public about ongoing litigation.
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DireRadiant
post Mar 16 2010, 08:10 PM
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Heh, copied to RPG.Net already. 30 minutes.
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knasser
post Mar 16 2010, 08:11 PM
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QUOTE (Rotbart van Dainig @ Mar 16 2010, 08:08 PM) *
That's an understatement, quite honestly: Products like the 6th World Almanach or Corporate Guide are pretty much essential to newcomers that simply won't have the whole old background material available.


I know it's an understatement. I honestly don't know how to express what I'm feeling right now over the Internet.

K.
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gorramfrakker
post Mar 16 2010, 08:15 PM
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If CGL dies then someone will pick up the pieces. Hell, I'll license the IP from Topps, what could it cost, a couple (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) ? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/eek.gif)
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KnightIII
post Mar 16 2010, 08:16 PM
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I only pray Wizards of the Coast doesnt buy Shadowrun. That would mean a 5th edition AND they would probably want to WoW-ify it like they did D&D, utterly ruining it.

Tir Ghost in combat with party Street Samurai: "Ah, so, they have a mage a few meters away... I take her out and they will be crippled..."
Sammie: "Hah! Try it fool, I have aggro on you!"
Ghost: "Doh! Foiled again!"
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Demonseed Elite
post Mar 16 2010, 08:19 PM
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I am so very, very unsurprised.
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Fatum
post Mar 16 2010, 08:20 PM
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QUOTE (KnightIII @ Mar 16 2010, 11:16 PM) *
I only pray Wizards of the Coast doesnt buy Shadowrun. That would mean a 5th edition AND they would probably want to WoW-ify it like they did D&D, utterly ruining it.


Of all places, let's not start a DnD edition war here.
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Stahlseele
post Mar 16 2010, 08:20 PM
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QUOTE (gorramfrakker @ Mar 16 2010, 09:15 PM) *
If CGL dies then someone will pick up the pieces. Hell, I'll license the IP from Topps, what could it cost, a couple (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) ? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/eek.gif)

Try several ten thousand...
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winterhawk11
post Mar 16 2010, 08:23 PM
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AH was kind enough to point me at this thread.

If it's true...I'm simply appalled. There's not really much else I can say.
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tsuyoshikentsu
post Mar 16 2010, 08:24 PM
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Moderator Note: Merging this with the big CGL rumor thread

Shadowrun ain't perfect. But you know what? It's fun as hell, and it would suck to lose that. So here's the deal: I saw what Frank posted, and it's got me worried. I like Shadowrun a lot. I like what CGL has done with a lot. So this is what I will do.

I'm not a professional game designer. Hell, I've never been paid by an RPG company. But I've done some playtesting and "fact-checking" (don't ask, it just pisses me off) for WotC, and G-d knows I've got spare time. And I love this game.

I have no idea how your PDF sales are, but I figure that the actual process of taking a completed PDF file and giving it to DriveThruRPG or whoever isn't that expensive. (At least compared to printing a book.) So... I can write. I can design, at least in theory. I figure that the least I can do as a last ditch effort to help is donate my skills to a company I can get behind. So I will write for you, or playtest for you, for free. Period. And my hope is that other people will do the same.

Think about it, guys: this is the age of crowdsourcing. Anyone here have PDF design experience? Anyone here want to help me with mechanics? Between all of us, we could make a decent-sized PDF and then give it to CGL immediately. Hell, my mom's a contract lawyer; I'll see if she'll write up a donation of intellectual rights contract or whatever pro bono. It's a hell of a dream, but maybe we could help get CGL back on its feet.
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tim
post Mar 16 2010, 08:24 PM
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damn......

that sucks, and god i hope WotC doesnt pick shadowrun up if you guys cant get the money.
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tsuyoshikentsu
post Mar 16 2010, 08:25 PM
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WotC is losing the Star Wars license and bleeding people like hell. I don't think they're gonna be picking anything up any time soon.
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Demonseed Elite
post Mar 16 2010, 08:27 PM
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Your dedication to the game is admirable, but the idea of donating work to a company that allegedly stole from its own staff doesn't seem wise. I mean, basically, that's what the freelancers who haven't been paid have been doing, unintentionally.
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RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 9th December 2018 - 07:57 PM

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