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The Probable End of CGL, Not necessarily the end of SR

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Lars Wagner Hansen

Mar 16, 2010, 5:39:13 PM3/16/10
Disturbing news on the dumpshock forums. It has not been confirmed, but
it has been confired tha Jennifer Harding and the Operrations Managed
has resigned from CGL. Jennifer has also heard tha Adma Jury has


The following is taken directly from Frank Trollmans post:

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?


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