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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wizkids is No More!

It’s been a bad year for gaming, and another piece of the sky fell yesterday.

I’m talking about Topps Company shutting down Wizkids, owner of the popular Heroclix game line. The announcement can be found here, and speculations and reactions to the news is here.

The short gist of it:

The Topps Company is announcing today that it is closing down WizKids, its core hobby gaming business, and temporarily discontinuing the WizKids product lines. Topps CEO Scott Silverstein commented, “This was an extremely difficult decision. But in light of the current economic conditions, we feel it is necessary to align our gaming initiatives more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are already being developed within our New York office.”

Right now the Wizkids site and its forums are virtually nonexistent, and as of this writing, the HCRealms site is offline, probably driven to total server meltdown from all the traffic they’re getting. It’s that crazy.

I decided to hold back posting about it as I’m still trying to process the situation, ‘coz going batshit crazy isn’t really going to help this piece get any better. For now, all we have is Topps saying that they will pursue “strategic alternatives so that viable brands and properties, including HeroClix, can continue without any noticeable disruption.” But that won’t ease any fears about the fate of their future plans, including Heroclix’s next, Thor-centric line, Hammer of Thor.

One wonders, how could Topps let this happen? They say it was a very hard decision to make (and I agree…probably hundreds of people are now out of work as we speak), but I can’t help but think how hard it actually is to decide to let go of a company that put CMG’s (collectible miniatures games) on the map. Heroclix just sold out its last two sets like crazy, and the buzz for the game has never been higher. It’s even been injected fresh, new blood in the form of new Brand Manager Jake Theis, whose excitement and obvious love for the game (as evidenced by his blog posts) is making people giddy as schoolgirls with the promise of a better game for everyone under his guidance.

Then again, Heroclix is just one game, and while Wizkids had a stable of game lines including Pirates, Star Wars Pocketmodels and others, I don't think they survived with just Clix as the moneymaker. But judging from the last word from ICv2, Topps seems to want their brands to have homes as quickly as possible, to preserve brand value. I guess that's as good of a news as any.

All we could do right now is speculate, wait or pray until another press release gives us the full lowdown on what happens next in regards to all of their game lines. The guys at my Heroclix player group are nervous but hopeful, and will continue to play the game until then. I want to know what’s next, Wizkids or no Wizkids.

Here’s hoping it’s the former.

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