Catalyst Games (Shadowrun, Battletech), which has been dealing poorly with its big internal embezzlement scandal, just got served! Not in the urban dance contest sense, but in the legal sense.
WildFire, the people who write CthulhuTech and were trying to use Catalyst as a publisher/distributor, and some other folks (two freelancers, we think), have apparently gotten sick of getting stiffed and have filed a Chapter 7 request with the US Bankruptcy Court against InMediaRes (aka Catalyst aka Holostreets aka BattleCorps). This is a new one on me – it’s basically filing bankruptcy on someone else’s behalf and saying “give me my damn money, or you’ll get declared bankrupt and your organs will be sold to pay me!”
See the filing docs – DOC 1 DOC 2
Various lawyery speculation says that as Chapter 7 requests are pretty easily defeated by anyone with a pulse, it’s unusual to do this unless you have a real strong case and/or you think they’re going down the drain and you want to get in line first to get your money before they shuffle it off to random personal slush funds.
Catalyst has responded with the predictable “What! Baseless! All will be well!”
Standard posturing. The sad thing is that when it all is settled, probably despite Catalyst collapsing, the primary culprit will still be living large in the big ol’ house paid for with his ill-gotten gains. Hooray, deregulation!
Well, since their well-spun tale of “someone stole some of our money but it’s all OK now, we’re all OK here now, how are you?” Catalyst Game Labs (CGL), the company putting out Shadowrun and Battletech, appears to be sliding into a morass of slime and (semi-?)criminal activity.
Besides the owners stealing an assload of money (check the detailed data/graphs on the RPGSite!, originally from RPG.net, and originating with a Catalyst co-owner named Phil DeLuca) They asked freelancers to lie about financials (see them give details at Dumpshock), aren’t paying freelancers despite selling their wares (and more at Fear the Boot)… And haven’t been paying royalties, this has resulted in Cthulhutech (WildFire) and Eclipse Phase (Posthuman) being yanked from them (CGL was publishing those games too). A number of people (writers mostly) have quit Catalyst due to the organization’s behavior.
Summary: Loren Coleman and his wife appear to have stolen about a million dollars, Randall Bills was trying to cover it up, and loads of folks were and appear to still be involved in all sorts of probably-illegal shenanigans. However, of course Coleman hasn’t even been fired let alone had the cops sicced on him. Note their names down and add them to the list of other scumbags that freely prey upon people in the RPG industry – it’s a long list, sadly.
As usual there’s folks still involved with the company (including Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer) making excuses and saying “If you were all to just continue to buy our stuff, then surely one day we’d pay these freelancers and whatnot…” And fans saying “Well but why shouldn’t I keep buying stuff from them… Coleman shouldn’t go to jail, why that would cause people to lose their jobs!” And the most deluded, some freelancers saying “Well they just hired me and I’m sure they’ll pay *me* for my work…” Oh and of course the standard smear campaign against the freelancers and others who are coming forward with all these details (same thing the sleazebag who inspires us all, Jim Shipman of Outlaw Press, did during his own scandal – they must be reading his playbook). Apparently very few people have meaningful ethics any more, sadly.
More info as it develops – the best source used to be Dumpshock but they banned Frank Trollman, who has the best info, so probably now it’s theRPGSite – proud to be the place where all the people banned from the snooty forums go to die!