Steve Jackson Games Announces Layoffs
You should really read the entire announcement at the SJGames website, but for the sake of drawing commentary, I'll post the more informative bits here. They're not going out of business - rather just cutting back based on "incomplete financial statements".
You should really read the entire announcement at the SJGames website, but for the sake of drawing commentary, I'll post the more informative bits here:
1. Steve Jackson Games is not going out of business. Layoffs are not necessarily a sign of impending doom (except, of course, for those who got laid off); in fact, in this case the layoffs are a way for the company to keep from going out of business, by saving money in the most immediate way possible. The downside of layoffs: fewer people to work on products, which can mean missed release dates.
2. The most immediate reason for the layoffs is what's being called "incomplete financial statements." According to Mr. Jackson, the numbers would seem to indicate that the company should be making money -- sales are up, and people are paying their bills on time -- but they're not. Possible areas for the "cash deficit" include overstaffing and projects that aren't making enough money, instead turning into a cash sink.
3. Their Chief Financial Officer left the company a few weeks ago. The only thing this has a direct effect on is the fact that financial reports are now even more of a mess than they were before; already, they're a year out of date, making it impossible to track profit or loss for that entire time. Mr. Jackson himself has been "writing personal checks" to keep money in the bank. End result: company is losing money, even if it shouldn't be.
4. Products under development will still ship, because basically it'd be stupid not to ship them; they're a source of additional funding, which is sorely needed at this point. Products forthcoming include "Frag, Munchkin, Chez Dork" and Car Wars, which ships in October.
I personally think that this is more than just financial troubles at one company. It's pretty clear from the stunning failure of TSR (prior to Wizards of the Coast gobbling them up) that there's a problem in the RPG industry. Perhaps it's oversaturation; everyone already owns a game, and there are too many new games and game companies out there. Perhaps it's that darned computer game industry, which is sucking people's time and money away from pen-and-paper games. Or perhaps it's just that the RPG companies aren't changing with the times; for the most part, RPGs are still designed, marketed and played just like they were in the early 1980s, whereas computer games have come a long way since the Atari 2600 and Intellivision.
Maybe it's time for a change.