On Friday afternoon Spartan Games announced that they have ceased trading:
The full announcement is on their website. This has been difficult to access, so it is reproduced in full below:
The following statement is issued today, Friday 25th August 2017.
Following a prolonged period of challenging trading and despite the directors’ best efforts to manage through, Rebel Publishing Ltd was unable to continue to trade and the directors have taken the difficult decision to cease. All members of staff were made redundant.
The company, which traded as Spartan Games, is a Somerset, UK based provider of tabletop miniature games which include
- Uncharted Seas, a fantasy naval combat game (now retired)
- Firestorm Armada, an exciting space combat game featuring highly detailed starship models
- Dystopian Legions, a game based in the world of Dystopian Wars using highly detailed 32mm scale figures and vehicles (now retired)
- Dystopian Wars– an exciting journey in a Victorian sci-fi world encompassing naval combat, ground warfare and aerial combat.
- Spartan Scenics – a range of detailed and easily assembled wargames terrain.
Rebel Publishing Ltd was formed in July 2002 and traded successfully for a number of years. Spartan Games was launched in 2008 and grew rapidly. However, the tabletop games market is challenging and has changed over recent years, and suppliers are predominantly a small number of large well-known names and several small, cottage industry, type businesses.
Initially the business outsourced production but following quality control and production management issues, manufacturing was moved in house between 2009 and 2011. Over this time and since, significant investment was made into machinery and infrastructure. The business also expanded to provide models for a well known video game, moving this into the tabletop games arena. However, significant new development costs, timing issues and the deflection of management time from the core games brands resulted in a significant trading loss for 2015/6. The business was able to continue to trade by raising additional finance and refocusing on core brands, and direct / online trading improved significantly. Results for 2016/17 were significantly improved.
However, despite this it continued to encounter challenging trading conditions and it became clear this month that the company could not continue to service its liabilities, particularly given the burden imposed by the amounts owing to finance companies.
The company was in the process of running a Kickstarter project to raise funds for expansion of one of its successful product lines. This was well supported and positive feedback on the new products was given showing the popularity of the product line and ongoing demand. However, this does not, unfortunately, provide the full range of success and resources needed to sustain the business.
In addition to challenging trading issues, one of the directors has suffered from a long period of poor health which became significantly more serious earlier this year and although now back in the business, requires ongoing treatment. That has inevitably taken a toll on the amount of time available to the business so, along with other challenges, has significantly contributed to this difficult decision.
The directors are extremely saddened by this decision and particularly regret any losses incurred by employees, customers, suppliers or other trading partners. The directors fully committed their time, energy and personal resources to effect a turnaround. Employees will receive redundancy payments through state funds and although efforts have been made to fulfil customer orders, it is hoped that anyone who does not receive their goods will be able to redeem their payments through their credit card or PayPal.
If customers have made a deposit or paid for goods or services by credit or debit card and the goods or services are not going to be received by the due date, they may be able to get their money back by claiming a refund from their card issuer. They should contact their card issuer as soon as possible. Further information including time limits that apply is available from the UK Cards Association: Credit and debit cards: A consumer guide. Similar schemes exist in other countries.
Throughout the years that Spartan Games has traded, it has prided itself on the highest level of product quality and customer satisfaction. This has been delivered consistently and is evidenced though annual customer research that the company has undertaken.
We would encourage anybody who may be interested in acquiring either stock, assets or the business to make contact as soon as possible. Spartan Games and its product lines have a strong reputation in its markets together with an asset base which may be of interest to a number of parties, and a variety of machinery in addition to Intellectual Property.
This came as a particular surprise to us as we had only just recorded an interview with Neil Fawcett from Spartan Games last week about their current Firestorm Galaxay kickstarter project (which has now been cancelled) – which we were about to release on this weeks podcast – and there was no inkling at that point that the situation with the company was as bad as it obviously was.
Admittedly, they had faced several challenging situations recently – including their printer going bust during the production of the books for Dystopian Wars 3.0 – and Neil has had some very serious health issues which have obviously had an impact on the company, as he is such a dynamic driving force behind it.
I have got to know Neil pretty well over the years – he gave me my first break in magazine publishing when he published some of my reviews and articles in Wargames Journal – and I must admit that this announcement has left me in a certain amount of shock, and at something of a loss for words.
I hope that Neil, Frances and the family are well, and wish them our very best, along with all the former staff at Spartan Games.
Tor Gaming ceases trading
A couple of hours later, Tor Gaming also announced on their website that they too had ceased trading:
Statement date: Friday 25th August 2017.
Tor Gaming was started back in 2010 with the intention to product the tabletop wargame Relics and with it, bring some originality to your gaming table. We tried to create a world that was distinctly different to what was already being presented from several fronts, and I like to think we managed in this task.
Unfortunately, the last few years have been a difficult trading time for Tor Gaming. Running a business in a niche market is never easy but the gaming industry has become very crowded in the last few years for a number of reasons. As such, I have made the difficult decision to close Tor Gaming and sell off the Relics IP and product range.
The reasons for Tor Gaming closing are many faceted but as I mention above the gaming market is a much more crowded than it was when I started out. The arrival of crowdfunding platforms certainly shook up the industry and made it even easier for new companies to appear and vie for the limited funds our customers have to spend in this hobby of ours. I have made use of them a number of times for Relics and whilst they are good for raising funds I have found each time I ran a project I had a nasty taste in my mouth afterwards.
Coupled with the fact that the traditional ‘distribution model’ of selling product to end users through retailers is a difficult task in this industry as retailers have only so much shelf space and as such are less inclined try out every range that comes along makes continuing to trade in this industry as a producer is difficult.
Over the last couple of years we have seen a steady decline in sales and as such Tor Gaming no longer has the resources to spend on the marketing and advertising required to make our voice heard over all the other voices in this industry. This has ramifications on our ability to develop and produce new products to support the Relics line. We could continue by making use of more crowdfunding projects and moving away from the more traditional ‘distribution model’ for selling but I feel that would be the wrong decision as I am not happy putting the financial risk on to the shoulders of our customers.
It’s been a fun journey but as with all journeys, there has to be an end. For Tor Gaming, that end is here. The journey has been fun and exciting, even frustrating at times. But along the way we have met some great people in this hobby and I am proud to call many of them friends now!
If you wish to contact us about this closure, or you are interested in purchasing the Relics product package and Intellectual property, we invite you to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, we would like to wish those at Tor Gaming all the very best for the future.
Not a good day for the gaming industry.