LiveJournal posts and RPGnet threads aside, the fact remains that Canadian RPG company Guardians of Order has had a rough time of late. Rumors have circulated that GoO was closing its doors, or had laid off its entire staff to become a struggling company of one member. Though the company has suffered considerable financial loss due to the declining strength of the US Dollar (“nearly a quarter million (Canadian) dollars,” according to President Mark MacKinnon’s statement, below), GoO has stated it will still be releasing anticipated titles such as Tekumel, Dreaming Cities, A Game of Thrones, and BESM Neon Genesis Evangelion. But to make sure that happens, the company is holding a Save GoO Campaign sale, with the stated goal being “to raise $50,000 in US funds in a short period of time so we can continue to publish the great books you have come to expect.”
Reposted from Guardians of Order website:
Guardians Of Order’s New Year’s Message
From President Mark C. MacKinnon
31 December 2004 (Edited 3 January 2005)
NOTE: This message may be reposted to other internet sites and distributed freely.
[EDITED (3 Jan 05): While I was originally going to post this message on New Year's Eve, the recent tragedy in Asia gave me pause. I didn't think it was the right time, given the magnitude of the pain and suffering that makes our woes seem so very insignificant in comparison. That said, certain information, and mis-information, leaked today to the gaming community today, and I owe it to our supporters to respond quickly. This address, plus the explanation on our Enlightened Self Interest page, should put most things in the correct context.]
On this uncharacteristically warm New Year’s Eve I sit at my computer desk sipping hot chocolate as the sweet sounds of Bach’s Violin Partita in B minor plays in the background. I am thankful that all is well in our great country, and mourn the terrible losses that have devastated many families in Asia after the earthquake and tsunami. We are witnessing the incredible power of Nature, and I cannot help but be humbled.
Thinking about GoO’s 2004 business year, I am proud of what we accomplished but also disappointed with what could have been. A few key products needed to be delayed for various reasons, which unfortunately turned 2004 into our “year of sequels” (with sequels, conversions, and revisions) rather than our “year of new products.” Throw a weak economy into the mix, and it can be a recipe for disaster. Faith manages, though, and we pulled through. But sometimes … faith needs a little help.
SUMMARY OF 2004
To recap the developments at Guardians Of Order in 2004:
In total, we released 24 products — 23 books of our own and one co-publication with Hero Games — in 2004, effectively matching 2003′s releases. Breaking down the products into lines, we have:
As you can see, nearly three-quarters of our output involved original or licensed anime material — our signature strength. If I had to pick just a few must-buy stellar highlights, I’d recommend Ex Machina, The Authority RPG, Slayers d20, d20 Military Vehicles, and Path of the Bold.
SALES AND RPGs
I have talked to company presidents, renowned retailers, distributor representatives, and industry gurus. If there is one thing they all agreed on in 2004, it is the remarkable downturn in role-playing game sales. I’m sure the reasoning behind this trend is complex and varied, but the final result cannot be argued: RPGs were seriously hurt this past year.
Clearly, as an RPG-only company, this should have devastated our sales income, right? Well, no, actually. For the third consecutive year, Guardians Of Order has enjoyed an increase in gross sales revenue, and we achieved this remarkable fact without A Game of Thrones RPG (which, unfortunately, is delayed until spring/summer 2005). I’ll admit that releasing larger and more expensive books accounted for much of this increase, but it is still a great accomplishment for us in a declining marketplace.
Why, then, is our net income the lowest it has ever been?
LARGER THAN RPGs — THE SLIDING US DOLLAR
To put it bluntly, over the past two years the American dollar has had the snot kicked out of it by all major foreign currencies. Unfortunately, this includes the Canadian dollar and as an exporting company that calls the Great White North home, we’ve been hit hard. Really hard. We pay most of our fixed expenses (company overhead, such as salaries and rent) in Canadian dollars, which means that we must convert our US dollar revenue into Canadian funds for disbursement. One American dollar used to fetch $1.60 Canadian a few years back when the US economy was stronger, but the continual decline for two years has dropped that to about $1.15 — a loss of nearly 30%. This “exchange rate deficit” comes directly out of our bottom line, and has resulted in us losing nearly a quarter million (Canadian) dollars since the start of the decline.
There is no end in sight for the weak US dollar, and so our business plan is forced to adapt through downsizing and cost-cutting. There comes a time when you have to say “that’s enough.”
A PLEA FOR ASSISTANCE
Although we are firmly dedicated to having a full release schedule in 2005, we can’t do it alone. We have an abundance of inventory in our warehouse — partially the result of low sales, and partially due to greater-than-expected book trade returns — and we need to convert a large portion of it to cash quickly and efficiently.
Starting today, we are launching what we’re calling an “Enlightened Self Interest” sales campaign to help us convert inventory into cash. If there’s a book you’ve been thinking about buying from us, but have been waiting for the “right time” … well, now is most certainly the “right time.” The page also has a few older gems for sale, but copies are extremely limited. We have many books waiting in the wings, but the company needs an influx of revenue to remain healthy. Please take a moment and visit our Save GoO webpage for more information.
This New Year’s Eve message is about looking back and look forward. I don’t want to dwell in the doom and gloom, but every bit of support helps. The sky isn’t falling … at least not yet.
REVIEW OF GoO IN 2004
Although we have been under tremendous strain over the past year, I think we still did excellent work. Briefly, here is my review of our company’s performance in 2004:
- With all the tools at our disposal — message boards, mailing lists, website, and a weblog — we should be able to communicate frequently and efficiently with our gaming community. Unfortunately, many hours of my time must be spent on financial management (budgeting carefully and moving monies from place to place) each week, which has prevented us from keeping in touch.
- Not everything worked out as planned this past year, but we collectively worked very hard under difficult circumstances.
- We worked through a lot of backlog in 2004 (BESM Space Fantasy, Fushigi Yugi and Hellsing fan guides, SAS supplements), but due to many unfortunate circumstances Tekumel and A Game of Thrones RPG have still not yet made it to press. Tekumel is finally approved, though, so we are very, very close; AGOT is also well on its way, with a March 2005 release planned for the Deluxe Limited Edition.
Innovation and Leadership: C
- Unfortunately, “leading” took a backseat to “producing” in 2004. Although we had a few highlights — Ex Machina and The Authority RPG in particular — we’ll pick up this ball again in 2005.
- We produced simply amazing stuff in 2004. This would have been an A+ if not for the unfortunate error in BESM d20 Revised Edition.
Overall Analysis: B-
- Although I had hoped to rate my company better this year, it was not to be. I think we stumbled in 2004. Not terribly, but it happened. I think we can turn that around in 2005 if plans hold.
THE CRYSTAL BALL OF 2005
The future is always a tricky thing in this industry. You don’t want to announce many ideas too early, for fear you can’t follow through in time or that someone else will beat you to the punch. At the same time, fans want to know what you have planned and announcing plans early builds hype. This year, I’ve decided to lay the cards on the table and give you insights into our future:
I don’t want to give away too many details, but a number of products are planned for later in the year. Here is a partial list, edited to remove my secret surprises:
THANK YOU, AND GOODNIGHT
That wraps up this address of 2004 … a bittersweet reflection of what was, and what could have been. With a strong release schedule planned for next year, I predict that 2005 will be the fourth year in a row in which we see increased sales. It will be a tremendous year for me personally as well, for my wife and I are expecting my second son to arrive in mid-January.
If you enjoy the products we create, and want to see us continue in our mission, please consider purchasing a book or two today from your local retailer or our webstore (http://www.guardiansorder.com/store). Additionally, you would not believe how much good press (reviews, discussion threads, telling your local retailer what you think of our stuff, etc.) helps. We need your support now more than ever.
Thanks for reading, and best wishes for the new year!
Mark C. MacKinnon
Guardians Of Order, Inc.
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