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Games Quarterly Magazine No More

It’s true. I found out from Mark Simmons himself last week. The official release is below.

It’s a crying shame. Mark’s been one of the industry’s biggest boosters, even from before he started the Games Quarterly Catalog 16 years ago. He turned around the Origins Awards before handing them over to Charles Ryan and then went on to rescue GAMA in the aftermath of the quiet doom that was the Miami GTS.

Matthews Simmons Marketing, which ran Games Quarterly Catalog, Games Quarterly Magazine, National Games Week, and the ill-fated Games Expo 2007 died because of the horrible contraction the tabletop games industry has suffered through the past couple years. MSM runs on ad money, essentially, and when companies hit hard times they cut their ad budgets—and sometimes don’t bother to pay their bills.

Still, it’s good to see that the two Richards (Hartnett and Martin Leep) will pick up GQC‘s torch and continue along Mark’s path. I wish them luck.

For me, this means I successfully wrote an article for every issue of Games Quarterly Magazine. I just wish it had been a longer streak. The magazine had the best pay rate in the entire industry. Still, as I told Mark, I’d have written for him for free if he’d asked.

Here’s to Mark and his crew. I hope they all land on their feet and that we see them again soon. They contributed so much to tabletop games, and I can only hope that MSM’s demise doesn’t prove to be the canary in the industry’s coal mine.

April 6, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Owners for Games Quarterly Catalog

Games Quarterly Catalog (GQC), the 16 year old standard reference for the games industry, is now under new ownership. The acquisition was completed today. The previous owner Matthews Simmons Martketing (MSM) sold the catalog to Richard Hartnett and Richard Martin Leep. Mr. Hartnett has been a Sales representative for Games Quarterly employee since the beginning of the year, and Mr. Leep is the former Senior Editor for MSM. They are, as of now, the exclusive representatives for Games Quarterly Catalog.

“I am pleased to see this vital publication continue, with two people who know the function of GQC so well, ”stated previous owner Mark Simmons.

Games Quarterly Catalog lists product lines from over 500 game publishers, with an estimated 42,000 items. It is a comprehensive guide to family, hobby and educational non-electronic games. About 5,000 retail stores and distributors use GQC on a daily basis. The staff of GQC also voluntarily manages, for both the hobby and games trades, a standard manufacturer code system with over 4,400 manufacturers and publishers listed. Most distributors utilize the standard codes, to allow retailers to easily identify and order products from the wide range of companies.

Mr. Hartnett noted that the regular production schedule for GQC will remain as it has for the past several years with a one time delay of two weeks in order to facilitate this transition. This means the summer edition, GQC 63, will ship June 30. Updates and advertising placements have already begun. This edition includes a large quantity of new game and accessory releases for Summer.

Mr. Simmons further announced that MSM is closing after 16 years of service to the games industry. He noted the closure was forced by mounting bad accounts receivable through the past eighteen months and recent losses due to the launch of Games Expo 2007. Games Quarterly Magazine’s publication has ceased. National Games Week, according to Mr. Simmons, is a phenomenon that is likely to continue, with or without management. “However, stated Mr. Simmons, ”who knows what the future will bring?“

Mr. Simmons has become the North American Agent for Shanghai China based MeiJia International, the top board and card game manufacturer in China. He also has taken a position as Marketing and Sales Director for Denver based Vibrant Solar, Inc, which installs solar panel arrays for homes and commercial buildings. Mr. Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

FOR MORE INFORMATION Regarding Games Quarterly Catalog Contact:

Games Quarterly Catalog Company
12568 Tammywood Street
Broomfield CO 80020

Richard Hartnett email: [email protected] phone: (303)437-3218 or

Richard Martin Leep email: [email protected]
phone: (303) 817-1877

Comments 14

  1. (((I can only hope that MSM’s demise doesn’t prove to be the canary in the industry’s coal mine.)))

    Not trying to be mordant here, Matt, but the industry is already knee-deep in dead canaries, the mine’s ceiling has cracked, and fine streams of coal dust are showering down ever faster around us.

  2. (((I can only hope that MSM’s demise doesn’t prove to be the canary in the industry’s coal mine.)))

    Not trying to be mordant here, Matt, but the industry is already knee-deep in dead canaries, the mine’s ceiling has cracked, and fine streams of coal dust are showering down ever faster around us.

  3. True enough if you’re thinking of the second-tier and lower parts of the RPG industry. Still, we’ve been here before. I recall the doom and gloom before Magic: The Gathering hit stores too, and it was about as bad as it is now.

    Also, it’s a wider industry now than just RPGs. CCGs and CMGs seem to be okay still, and Games Workshop appears to be bouncing back in the miniatures arena, while Reaper and Privateer gain ground there too. Board games and card games have had better times than I remember in quite a while.

    It’s not all doom and gloom, but when a core service company like MSM goes down, it worries me even more than the loss of hundreds of retail stores. Of course, you could say that Mark just happened to be too ambitious at the wrong time, but then I’d be starting to argue with myself, and it’s too early in the day for that.

  4. Post
    Author

    True enough if you’re thinking of the second-tier and lower parts of the RPG industry. Still, we’ve been here before. I recall the doom and gloom before Magic: The Gathering hit stores too, and it was about as bad as it is now.

    Also, it’s a wider industry now than just RPGs. CCGs and CMGs seem to be okay still, and Games Workshop appears to be bouncing back in the miniatures arena, while Reaper and Privateer gain ground there too. Board games and card games have had better times than I remember in quite a while.

    It’s not all doom and gloom, but when a core service company like MSM goes down, it worries me even more than the loss of hundreds of retail stores. Of course, you could say that Mark just happened to be too ambitious at the wrong time, but then I’d be starting to argue with myself, and it’s too early in the day for that.

  5. I hate to see something like this happen to anyone, but especially to someone who was so devoted to promoting the hobby I love. More specifically, I liked the way that GQM was constantly trying to reach out to possibly overlooked audiences. From information as to how teachers could implement games in the learning process, to special magazines at Barnes and Noble, Mark just seemed to get how to promote the hobby to create a greater marketplace. It is sad to see that his leap into the gap with his Trade Show might have contributed to an early demise.

    As for the complaint of softness in the Gaming Marketplace. I know that certain figures support that, but from a consumer perspective what I am constantly facing is a market that provides more product on a monthly basis than I can afford, and I am not a typical “poor” gamer. I spend roughly $400 a month on games/gaming related material and there are still products (often indie press things like Spirit of the Century) that I overlook and hunt down later. There is too much walla (as a sound tech might say) and no clear way to determine what is or isn’t worth spending my money on in any given month.

    Sure there are websites like BGG, BGN, and About Games (written by a regular contributor to Knucklebones), but game criticism hasn’t become mainstream enough to assist the potential consumer. That was where Mark will be most missed, I think.

    There are lots of exciting things happening in gaming today, but they are dividing the marketplace into many parts. Just look at the PDF market, there is a lot of product. Some is good and some is awful, but one thing is certain, it is like the d20 boom without the big corporation to blame for glut.

    I was glad that Matt mentioned the pre-Magic period of RPGs because it was a similar marketplace for me. I know that some of what I am going to mention comes after the Magic boom, but the market was overwhelming for me at that time as well. TSR was releasing 5+ products a month (between Mystara, Birthright, and FR I could barely breathe), FASA was on a roll, Pinnacle was in a creative boom, Vampire had just come out, there was a new edition of Champions (with Perez cover and more products than ever before for that system in the pipeline). There is even more I could mention, but suffice to say there was a lot of worthy product with limited market resources.

    We have a similar landscape now. Do I buy Steven Long’s bi-weekly addition to Hero? The three Wotc books? A case or two of their Quarterly minis release? Green Ronin’s stuff? Pinnacle? What about AEG? Fantasy Flight’s boardgames are top notch, but not cheap. Games Workshop, tip top as always in quality. Rackham (I never heard of them 6 years ago, now I worship their sculpts)? Uberplay? Asmodee? Mongoose’s Paranoia? Atlas Games? Paizo Press in the market now?!

    My gameroom looks like Sid Sackson’s warehouse.

    I am overwhelmed.

    I don’t know that the mine is collapsing, but if it is it might have something to do with too rapid an expansion. 500 companies and 42,000 products. That is not an underwhelming number.

  6. I hate to see something like this happen to anyone, but especially to someone who was so devoted to promoting the hobby I love. More specifically, I liked the way that GQM was constantly trying to reach out to possibly overlooked audiences. From information as to how teachers could implement games in the learning process, to special magazines at Barnes and Noble, Mark just seemed to get how to promote the hobby to create a greater marketplace. It is sad to see that his leap into the gap with his Trade Show might have contributed to an early demise.

    As for the complaint of softness in the Gaming Marketplace. I know that certain figures support that, but from a consumer perspective what I am constantly facing is a market that provides more product on a monthly basis than I can afford, and I am not a typical “poor” gamer. I spend roughly $400 a month on games/gaming related material and there are still products (often indie press things like Spirit of the Century) that I overlook and hunt down later. There is too much walla (as a sound tech might say) and no clear way to determine what is or isn’t worth spending my money on in any given month.

    Sure there are websites like BGG, BGN, and About Games (written by a regular contributor to Knucklebones), but game criticism hasn’t become mainstream enough to assist the potential consumer. That was where Mark will be most missed, I think.

    There are lots of exciting things happening in gaming today, but they are dividing the marketplace into many parts. Just look at the PDF market, there is a lot of product. Some is good and some is awful, but one thing is certain, it is like the d20 boom without the big corporation to blame for glut.

    I was glad that Matt mentioned the pre-Magic period of RPGs because it was a similar marketplace for me. I know that some of what I am going to mention comes after the Magic boom, but the market was overwhelming for me at that time as well. TSR was releasing 5+ products a month (between Mystara, Birthright, and FR I could barely breathe), FASA was on a roll, Pinnacle was in a creative boom, Vampire had just come out, there was a new edition of Champions (with Perez cover and more products than ever before for that system in the pipeline). There is even more I could mention, but suffice to say there was a lot of worthy product with limited market resources.

    We have a similar landscape now. Do I buy Steven Long’s bi-weekly addition to Hero? The three Wotc books? A case or two of their Quarterly minis release? Green Ronin’s stuff? Pinnacle? What about AEG? Fantasy Flight’s boardgames are top notch, but not cheap. Games Workshop, tip top as always in quality. Rackham (I never heard of them 6 years ago, now I worship their sculpts)? Uberplay? Asmodee? Mongoose’s Paranoia? Atlas Games? Paizo Press in the market now?!

    My gameroom looks like Sid Sackson’s warehouse.

    I am overwhelmed.

    I don’t know that the mine is collapsing, but if it is it might have something to do with too rapid an expansion. 500 companies and 42,000 products. That is not an underwhelming number.

  7. Good points, Christian. After an expansion like we’ve had, a contraction is only natural. Some of it’s ameliorated by the fact that most gamers aren’t omnivores like you and me and many of the game designers I know. They stick to one kind of game–often one game period–and rarely if ever venture into new waters.

    Pinnacle wasn’t part of that pre-Magic boom-bust cycle though. It debuted in 1996, after Magic was already a few years old. We entered a marketplace going through a post-Magic bust, and RPGs were a hard sell then. Whatever success we had came from the fact we didn’t do that same-old thing but, as they like to say in baseball, hit it where they ain’t.

  8. Post
    Author

    Good points, Christian. After an expansion like we’ve had, a contraction is only natural. Some of it’s ameliorated by the fact that most gamers aren’t omnivores like you and me and many of the game designers I know. They stick to one kind of game–often one game period–and rarely if ever venture into new waters.

    Pinnacle wasn’t part of that pre-Magic boom-bust cycle though. It debuted in 1996, after Magic was already a few years old. We entered a marketplace going through a post-Magic bust, and RPGs were a hard sell then. Whatever success we had came from the fact we didn’t do that same-old thing but, as they like to say in baseball, hit it where they ain’t.

  9. I wasn’t sure about the timeline on when Deadlands etc. came out. I just remember how baffled I was at the creativity behind the idea. I know some people use the term “high concept” derogatorily, but Deadlands is a high concept masterpiece.

    I know there will be a movie/tv series based on it someday.

  10. I wasn’t sure about the timeline on when Deadlands etc. came out. I just remember how baffled I was at the creativity behind the idea. I know some people use the term “high concept” derogatorily, but Deadlands is a high concept masterpiece.

    I know there will be a movie/tv series based on it someday.

  11. Shane Hensley deserves every bit of credit for the Deadlands high concept, of course, but I don’t think he’d disagree that from the inside it wasn’t always clear it would be such a hit. We thought it would do well, of course, or we wouldn’t have started a company to produce it, but we could have barely hoped it would strike fire with so many imaginations.

    As for its future in other media, I can only say I’d love to see that too.

  12. Post
    Author

    Shane Hensley deserves every bit of credit for the Deadlands high concept, of course, but I don’t think he’d disagree that from the inside it wasn’t always clear it would be such a hit. We thought it would do well, of course, or we wouldn’t have started a company to produce it, but we could have barely hoped it would strike fire with so many imaginations.

    As for its future in other media, I can only say I’d love to see that too.

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