“The CHAOSium is a relatively new and infant game company.” (ca. 1978?)

This is a “recovered” post I originally made on the late and lamented Google+ social media site. On the original G+ post, Ian Borchardt wrote:

“Unfortunately they made a number of really bad business decisions that haunted them. The first was licensing Runequest to Avalon Hill, who actually did a really bad job producing and selling the game, alienating a core line of income (and a lot of fan support) for the company, while actually requiring more in-house work than producing the game themselves would have. This caused the loss of Different Worlds and put a hold on publishing new games and supporting old ones. Then in an attempt to remedy this fiscal crisis they got into the CCG market just as the CCG bubble was bursting, so had a massive amount of money tied up in stock that wasn’t moving.

This caused them to “sell” (actually both went to settle debts) the established Pendragon and Runequest (they’d just got the rights back) lines which only left them with Call of Cthulhu as a viable product line. To extend that they tried to publish an English version of Nephilim, but it never took off leaving retailers with a lot of unsold stock and a bad taste in their mouth with regard to Chaosium. And finally their distribution house, Wizard’s Attic, got caught up in the D20 bubble and was allegedly engaged in creative accounting before it collapsed, swallowing both stock and funds.

With the departure of Greg (taking Runequest with him) they were pretty well doomed anyway. Issaries subsequent decision to license Runequest to Mongoose was the nail in the coffin, as it was predicated on the fact that you can’t copyright a game system. Which sucked almost all the value out of their ownership of the BRP system, since all it left them with was a set of trademarks and a lot of competition. [A big problem is that they have also not done anything new with the property, just rehashed old mechanisms, and the production quality of the stuff they have put out for it shows their lack of financial leeway.]

Still the Call of Cthulhu fan-base is still pretty solid (although the publishing hiatus brought on by lack of funds has meant that a lot of them has been exploring different game systems such as Savage Worlds). The recent Kickstarter for the 7th edition swung much needed funds their way (the fact that Chaosium was still a strong brand among their fans helped), and may go a great way into resurrecting the fortunes of the company. However they will need to support the new edition with continuing releases (and not just their effectively unedited monographs).”


The Chaosium order form 1


See Also: RAIDERS AND TRADERS (The Chaosium, 1979)

DRAGON PASS: Runequest in a Boardgame (1980)

ICE feedback card, ca. 1982.