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West End Games (WEG) is a company that makes board, role playing, and war games. It was founded in 1974 in New York, but later moved to Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Its current and past product lines include Paranoia, Torg, Shatterzone, Men In Black, DC Universe, Star Wars, The World of Indiana Jones, Junta, Necroscope, Tales from the Crypt, Bloodshadows, and Metabarons.


Development

Previously a producer of board wargames, the company began producing roleplaying games in 1984 with Paranoia. The high production values demanded by the wargames industry made them one of the few companies who could compete with TSR, and they were able to acquire the license from Columbia Pictures to produce an RPG based on the film Ghostbusters. This game, Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game, formed the basis of the D6 System which was to be heavily used in many of their licensed products.

Around 1987, the company acquired the license to produce a Star Wars RPG . Since the films had been released some years ago, and there was (at the time) no new media forthcoming, the success of these books came as a surprise. Their early work on the Star Wars Roleplaying Game established much of the groundwork of what later became the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and their sourcebooks are still frequently cited by Star Wars fans as reference material. Lucasfilm considered their sourcebooks so authoritative that when Timothy Zahn was hired to write what became the Thrawn trilogy, he was sent a box of West End Games Star Wars books and directed to base his novel on the background material presented within. Zahn's trilogy, in turn, renewed interest in the franchise and provided many sales for West End Games. In the early 1990s, the FidoNet Star Wars Echo hosted a message forum for playing the Star Wars RPG on computer bulletin board systems, and some current and future West End Games freelancers took part.

Bankruptcy

Despite the company's early phenomenal success, in July, 1998 West End Games went into bankruptcy. Various reasons for this decline have been debated, including the general deleterious effect the growth of the CCG hobby was having on the entire role-playing game market at the time, a series of extravagant but failed game lines which West End Games had launched in an attempt to match Star Wars' success (the Masterbook family of games in particular, including Torg, Shatterzone, and Masterbook itself) and continued to support well after it was clear that they had failed to find audiences, and just simple poor financial management. A contributing factor may have been West End Game's failure to establish an internet presence even after most other game companies had done so years earlier; the company's only acknowledgment of the web-based community was a contact e-mail address through America Online. Although these might have played a part in weakening their market position, the culminating event involves mismanagement between West End Games and its then parent company, shoe importer Bucci Retail Group. When the parent company filed for bankruptcy, West End Games could not survive the process and had to go under as well. [1]

Current Status

No longer considered stable, all of West End's licenses to produce work based upon various settings were terminated, most significantly the Star Wars license which had produced most of the company's business. West End was forced to liquidate most of its assets, including a large backstock of unsold books. Ironically, the company finally created a web-site while in bankruptcy proceedings in order to facilitate the liquidating of their stock.

However, despite appearances West End Games did not disappear. A European company invested in them, and produced a game using the D6 mechanics for the Metabarons setting, a popular French comic story. Unfortunately the game never found a following with American audiences and did not lead to a resurgence of the company.

West End Games persisted, and in 2004 it was bought by Eric J. Gibson. Currently, their flagship line is a generic version of the D6 system, which has met with general approval from gamers and has led to a line of regularly produced supplements. West End is also expanding back into board games, beginning with a new edition of Junta.

Game designers affiliated with West End Games include Greg Costikyan, Paul Murphy, Eric Goldberg, Joe Balkoski, Jon Southard, Jeff Briggs, and Ken Rolston.

Systems developed

Board games


References

  1. Haring, Scott D. (1999-04-16). Pyramid Interviews: Scott Palter (html). Steve Jackson Games. Retrieved on 2007-04-24.

External links

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