FIRST ANNUAL UPDATE - June 2016
by Rick Meints - President, Chaosium
Today marks one year since the Great Old Ones returned to Chaosium.
I paused after writing that. The last 12 months went by so quickly, and so much has happened it is hard to take it all in. We in the new Chaosium have worked very hard to transform a company on the verge of bankruptcy into a thriving and profitable company. To that effect, we wanted to share with you some of our struggles and successes from this past year.
The first four months: firefighting, tough choices
The first four months of the new Chaosium consisted of a great deal of research to understand the full scope of all the problems Chaosium faced, and all of the proverbial fire-fighting that comes with dealing with them. We had to turn a company that was losing money every month into one that could at least meet payroll, pay enough bills to keep the lights on, and make real progress on fulfilling its Kickstarter obligations. By making a number of tough and sometimes painful choices, including closing the Hayward office and warehouse at the end of September, we succeeded in all of those goals.
The next four months: evoking the "orderium"
The next four months consisted of preparing to balance the company between being the Chaosium that everyone knows and loves and being a bit more like the "Orderium", a company that has internal processes with consistent standards. Fixing Chaosium needed to involve far more than just writing a big check to pay off debts and cover future expenses. For the Chaosium to produce ground-breaking games that amaze and delight gamers, the Orderium needed to follow schedules, stay within budgets and plan out the most efficient ways to professionally run a stable business. The debts to most authors, artists, and editors have now been paid, and we have a clear path for completing this important obligation. We also dealt with a large number of overdue bills to all manner of businesses, taxing authorities, and governmental agencies.
All along the way it took longer than we had anticipated to get the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition Kickstarter fully back on course. Instead of merely paying the printer to start the presses rolling we had to review, revise, and/or continue the creation of the books, combining them into a coherent package of products that have since been known as the core rewards: The Keeper Rulebook, Investigator handbook, Keeper Screen Pack, Nameless Horrors, and the Petersen Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors. Our work isn’t finished yet, although we take great satisfaction in having delivered thousands of books to the 3000 backers who had been waiting since 2013.
The last four months: reconnecting and looking to the future
The last four months have been about focusing more and more on the future. With our finances in a less precarious position, it is now much more about allocating money to the product pipeline of new RPG books, fiction titles, and card games that we are creating. We are broadening our range of games with the return of RuneQuest to the Chaosium family of RPGs. We will be relaunching our Basic Roleplaying line with a new edition of Mythic Iceland. As for card games, we’re working on a new edition of Credo and have partnered with Reiner Knizia to publish Khan of Khans.
Part of our new approach includes increasing Chaosium’s production standards to much higher levels. Take a look at the new Petersen Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors or Pulp Cthulhu and you will see these new standards in action. We have switched our main RPG titles to full color interiors on a higher standard of paper. If you compare either of those two books to a Chaosium RPG book from a year or two ago you will see a stark contrast in quality.
Another achievement we take great pride in is the rebuilding and restoration of communicating with our customers and fans. They are the life blood of the company. While we learned much along the way, our patient and appreciative audience continues to grow far beyond our expectations:
Thus far, Chaosium’s fallow presence on Google+ has grown from less than 500 members to over 2500.
Our Twitter audience has grown by almost 500% to more than 5750 followers.
The reinvigorated Chaosium Facebook page has gone from 1867 likes to 7368 and rising.
Our partnership with basicroleplaying.org has allowed us to participate more actively on forums relating to all of Chaosium’s games, past, present and future, especially in the increasingly active Cthulhu, Cult of Chaos, RuneQuest, and Glorantha sections. Those forums have seen over 1000 new participants join in the conversations hosted there.
Adding to our corporate voice is our newly relaunched Organized Play group of GMs, the Cult of Chaos. Its ranks have swelled from around 200 to over 1300 participants.
However, there is much left to do and say, and with all the support, suggestions and enthusiasm generated on social media we look forward to reconnecting even more with our audience.
A Company worth saving
We want to close this brief review with a word of thanks to the many many people who supported us all along the way. As we heard numerous times, it could have been far easier to just turn off the lights and call it a day, but Chaosium is a company worth saving. There is a lot of work left to do, and the kind words of encouragement and support truly helped us bring a little order into this wonderfully chaotic and iconic company. For so many things, we thank you.
And I personally can’t begin to thank all those involved in allowing me to have the job of lifetime,