There’s been a lot of chatter over social media over the last couple of days after word got out that Privateer Press is closing down the Press Gang progam. There’s been more than a bit of emotion, a lot of nostalgia, a decent amount of the-sky-is-falling and a few quizzical now-what’s. If you’re out of the loop, the official public announcement is here: Linky
The Press Gang has meant a lot to me over the years since I was railroaded into it by then-Quartermistress Bobaferret. It’s been the impetus behind many a demo and league and article series here at Lost Hemisphere, and an awful lot of PG points have been used to fill the Lost Hemisphere Prize Pool with nifty things that could be sent out for prizes such as those we use for Paint The Target, and to bulk up the prize table at CaptainCon for our annual fundraiser. I’ve greatly enjoyed the camaraderie of the Press Gang, and over the years have made many friends in black. I fondly remember getting one of the original PG coins, before Privateer started making their own, and my Old Salt coin still resides in my wallet.
So what do I think of the program ending? I’m saddened, and a little nervous for the future of volunteering for Privateer. Before we go any further, I should note that while some of this is based on the communication the Press Gangers received from Privateer, there’s still a lot of speculation involved so take it with a grain of salt.
The Press Gang has over 1000 members worldwide. That’s an awful lot of cats to herd, and in the end, Privateer decided that it was no longer a cost effective way of running things. As the company has grown, so has its needs both internally and externally, and the resources required to manage a 1000+ strong army of Tournament Organizers, Demo Runners, League Coordinators and more are, simply put, pretty damn monstrous. Privateer is a business, and business decisions need to be made sometimes. They’re not made lightly, without significant though, and likely a stupid amount of meetings around boardroom tables where that one guy is always struggling not to fall asleep. Given the sheer ratio of Will’s at Privateer, it may even have been one of them.
The other factor – and again, speculation – that I think may have played a part is the class action lawsuit being brought againt WotC by disgruntled members of their own volunteer corps. While what the Press Gang does (did) for Privateer is different to how WotC demanded of their judges, should the case go the way it’s looking to go, it will set a legal precedent that could open Privateer up for significant potential legal liability. WoTC may well be large enough to be able to endure such a lawsuit, but a smaller company – let’s be honest, PP isn’t the multinational megacorp we sometimes like to think it is – could well be bankrupted. In the interest of protecting the company, making a change like this – dramatic as it is – isn’t necessarily an unwise thing.
The point is, this is not an action that was taken lightly. The powers that be at Privateer may occasionally seem whimsical, but remember, they plan model released up to three years in advance. I’ve talked with the original sculptor behind the Stormwall and Conquest colossals – he finished those models and sat on his NDA for *years* before they were released. So don’t think Privateer hasn’t put a lot of brainpower into making this decision, and figuring out how to move forward.
We don’t know all the details as yet as to how Privateer plans to run events like Lock & Load, Adepticon and GenCon without the Press Gang, but we do know they’re planning to continue to support local events by means of the event support kits. These have always required the store (or club) themselves to order them, and the Press Gangers have coordinated the events. Now, instead of having the Press Gangers report events and get PG points, the kits will include “payment” for the event coordinator by means of … well, we don’t know exactly, but it looks like it’ll be swag, much like how the Heroclix judges would get reimbursed for their efforts by the league kits including copies of the LE clix figures that would go to the judges. Again, the details haven’t been made fully public yet, but this means that those stores where the staff essentially run the events can continue business as normal and have some extra freebies to award to their communities, or should ex-Press Gangers or other volunteers run the event then those individuals will be rewarded swagaliciously.
It may be several months before the minutiae is known, but you can be certain that there has been considerable thought put into the “what next” of current events to minimize the negative impact of the Press Gang’s ceasing to exist, and to hopefully allow things to move forward in a manner that allows for continued growth and expansion without opening up the company to unnecessary liability and risk.
Privateer Press is well aware of the significance of the Press Gang and the role we’ve played in helping Warmachine and Hordes become one of the most popular tabletop miniature gaming systems in the world. Each member of the Press Gang received an email thanking us for our efforts and offering a free “Tribute package” including a Limited Edition PG Black Ogrun (usable as an Ogrun Bokur). It’s a gesture that is very much appreciated, and I will treasure the model.
So now what?
I don’t know about you, but it’s business as usual around here. I will continue doing what I do, because I’ve never done it for the PG points; I’ve done it because I enjoy doing it. The prize pool may be a little lighter going forward, but that doesn’t change a thing in my little hemisphere.
As always, doing my best to avoid the doomtrain,