Working Designs closes up shop

Victor Ireland confirms niche publisher's demise in message board posting on company Web site.


Almost two decades after it formed as an accounting software company, niche publisher Working Designs is gone, according to company president Victor Ireland.

"There's no easy way to say it, so I just will. Working Designs is gone. All the staff has been laid off and the office is closed and has been for some time," Ireland wrote in a message board post on the company's official forums.

The news comes just over a year after the company's last release, Growlanser Generations, hit shelves.

"We just spent too much time fighting the good fight to even get it out," Ireland wrote of Growlanser, "and other games approved."

One such game the company apparently failed to get approved was the PlayStation 2 action adventure game Goemon.

"Though almost finished and substantially improved from the Japanese release, Goemon is dead for the US, and that was really the final straw," Ireland wrote. "If I can't guarantee that the games I personally choose for us to release in the US can actually get approved and come out, there's no business to be done."

Ireland, who has butted heads with publishers before, seemed to take a parting shot at Sony in his posting.

"Sony has made it clear that they do not want the details of their dealings with any publisher made public," Ireland wrote. "Suffice to say that you would buy what we wanted to sell if we could sell it."

He also noted that Growlanser Generations and Goemon might still see a release in Europe, though details like how, when, and under what publisher were left up in the air.

Working Designs may be done, but Ireland isn't ready to leave the gaming industry entirely. He plans to work with other Working Designs staffers on projects for different publishers for the time being, and he said he would like to help bring Japanese Xbox 360 role-playing games to the US.

Ireland signed off by thanking Working Designs' fan base and warning of potentially dark days ahead.

"It's a tough road ahead for games that aren't of the least-common-denominator variety," Ireland wrote. "The choices you make with your hardware dollars are more important than ever for the generation that is upon us."

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 96 comments about this story
96 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
  • 96 results
  • 1
  • 2
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for zinoalex

Working Designs deserved a beter fate. Imagine the out cry from gamers and fans it the same had happened, at the time, to Nis.The reason for their demise may be unclear but they leave a lasting legacy among gaming titles thet were successful and to a broad generation of gamers.

Avatar image for SaberStrike

It's funny how long ago this happened, but it still makes me sad. What with all the crap going on nowadays with closing businesses, it just sucks.

Avatar image for Dreadfall

I know this is old news but Working Designs really did it to themselves. They started out making really awesome RPG'S for the Sega CD, then they deviated away from the games that made them femous, like Vay and probably others I can't remember, Lunar was another awesome one. Had they stuck to RPG's and stayed away from games they weren't good at making, they'd most likely still be around.

Avatar image for S_o_G

Yeah this Sux, And its really sad that most of the fault was on sony's side. which is why he made the comment about them.

Avatar image for noxian

to play some Devil's Advocate, the big issue i heard with WD, and Ireland somewhat admits, is the fact that WD was INFAMOUS for taking 5-6 years to do their localizations. Now I liked WD as much as the next JRPG fan, but lets take that into perspective. The amount of time WD took to localize a game, those same Japanese studios would have already made/released another 1 maybe 2 brand new games (new content, new engine, brand new). Ireland himself admited that the time WD took trying to do Goemon, they could've done 5-6 games. Now i know some are going to say, "WD was just taking the time it took to do it right." But y' some point you're going to have to come back down from the clouds, back to earth, and face reality. If you're a writer (average professional writer, not anyone particularly influencial), you're expected to produce a certain number of books a year. if you're a fashion designer, a certain amount of designs in a period of time. a researcher, a certain amount of research in a period of time. a movie producer is expected to finish within a certain window of time. my point is, in life, in business, you have time limits. while some limits will be more relaxed than others, some bosses will be more relaxed than others; there's a difference between taking some extra time to do a good job, and just taking far too long. and like it or not, WD frankly did the latter. When other publishers like Atlus were doing the same special deluxe packaging style, and doing similar quality translation work, and doing so in a quarter of the time; your days are starting to be numbered.

Avatar image for shelby1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for shelby1

well heres the thing you say it was just sony thats not the case okay it was one there lake of advertisment i rember when lunar first relasesd and i only saw one add for it and precceding that was a bigg old add for EA oha and atlus the primary rights holder for geomon acually helped pull the plug on it becuase they told sony (and i rember reading this a while back) that it wont sale in the US beacuse we lack the geral quality of rpg gamers.....which is BS and along with that atlus the main ppl who have supplyed WD wit game rights and what not pull almost all there games in becuase of cost and started o trabslate them there selves IE manag carta that started in translation welll over a year ago and most of those jrpg games that "might " come to the 360 are also on other systems and since they have fired the SCEA CEO for his lake of well work this new guy is allowing all sorts of stuff in jus look at the releas for the ps2 about 60% of those are japanese imports hell u know the old guy denied cowboy bebop for release here in the states....... and this might have been unavoidable with sony no longer following the region codeing (ie PAL ect ect) and with more and more games becoming muliti langage cmpanys like WD have no place in this new era of games which i think is at a all time low because most kids today follow what is cool and dont really seprate because most kids i hear them saing whats that oh its one of them rpgs is stupid or boring or some damn thing and now u have compays who are just flooding the market with crappy games that are really no fun to play and then u have square if u remeber a whil back they claimed oh we might go to another compnay well what do u think sonys gonna do keep giveing special att. to a company that take 3 yrs to translate a game that is pretty damn good or give that att. to a multi billion dollor comapny who make them billions now i do love WD i've loved hem since i first played iron storm and have waitied thru all there delays and from vics own post he is gonna keep trying to bring j-pgs here to the states just with other comapnys not just xbox like all them xbox fanboys think that lunar is gonna be on the 360 and its not they sold the rights for US publishing back to its original company along with alll there other rights now me i have a 360 i dont work right and im pissed because i sent it to microsoft and got it back and it works for i dont know about 10min then shuts off and they claim its my fault becuase some how i voided the warrentee...... and in all good night and good luck to WD's staff

Avatar image for fireballhado

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! When I read this i really cryed.This is the saddest news all year.The only company that really cared about its fans.The ask for nasty letters for negative things about there games only to improve in the newer games and give people want they want.This is sad.I cant belive it.Well im off the sell my psp and ps2 and waste my money to pre-order the ps3 on some gamecube games.But im keeping my working designs games forever.Lunar 1 and 2.Arc the Lad collection and others will be in my collection forever.Lets have a moment of silence for the company that gave us hope in video games.That made us feel for the story the characters.For the company that made me cry over a video game.Good luck.i will miss you guys.

Avatar image for OtterX

See what happens when big corporations take over the world? Smash out the small guys. GOTTA LOVE THIS FRIGGIN PIECE OF **** WORLD WE LIVE IN.

Avatar image for RyanSaotome

This really sucks that WD is gone.... I'm such a big fan of japanese RPGs, and this means less for me to get :(

Avatar image for ZeTecThreaT

Game Arts makes Lunar so its not the end of that series.But this is sad news none the less and he's right dark days are ahead for gaming.

Avatar image for YukoAsho

I agree with Skerrit. Yes, Sony had a part in this, but it's not like WD couldn't have just packed up shop and published games for GameCube, Xbox, DS and GBA. And yes, Sony still takes chances on the niches. EyeToy anyone? And while I loved them to death, there was nothing 'unique' about Working Designs' games save for their localizations. They published RPGs that adhered to the mold set by FF4. They published side-scrolling shooters which, by this time, had become a dime a dozen. Yes, this is a sad day for gamers. However, this is not the death of innovation in gaming. Atlus has shown an ability to stay afloat, and companies are still taking chances on titles such as Shadow Hearts. EA and Rockstar are just two companies, and their size doesn't make them the only companies that matter.

Avatar image for katieschmitz

I'm stunned. I'm shocked. I'm sad. I really have nothing else to say other than that this is a sad day for me :(

Avatar image for SavoyPrime

It's a shame that this has happened. Especially with me being such a RPG fan. Working Designs was iconic in the RPG world. He parted with some cryptic words for the next-gen. Let us see how things pan out.

Avatar image for MSM2

And Sony destroys another great company. Working Designs was innovative as a company, as they took Japanese RPG's to the American audience, and actually made a statement that Import RPG's can still as good as American made RPG's. With a loss of this company, it's hard to say that even more great RPG's will never see the light of day over here. I salute you Working Designs.

Avatar image for BigD

Sony doesn't like hardcore gamers :( It's policy like this that will hurt Sony in the long run.

Avatar image for Peter_Skerritt

Some folks still don't get it, apparently, regarding SCEA's approval process. Complaints about SCEA's approval process are kinda moot. We still saw Mega Man 8. We still saw Metal Slug. It's not like 2D games weren't "allowed" on the PSX at the time-- but with more and more gamers back them clamoring for 3D, you can see why SCEA was kinda hesitant to say OK to 2D. SCEA has approved more than its fair share of niche titles over the years. We never thought we'd see Mad Maestro or Mister Mosquito over here in the US... but we did. SCEA took a chance on picking up PaRappa the Rapper. What about Jumping Flash!, a game about a... robotic bunny? If you want to blame someone, try blaming people for not buying WD's work... or how about blaming Vic for his company's slowness or his own arguably poor choice of localization targets?

Avatar image for bradiusmaximus

I owned a Saturn, so this news is sad to me.

Avatar image for JimRune

We are all dissapointed, yes, but there is still hope a new company will take the place of Working Designs, and make all of our lives much brighter.

Avatar image for billysea

Will we ever see the light of a sequel to Dragon Force?

Avatar image for da_zing_man

Hmmm... This is rather unfortunate.. I've always had a certain appreciation for them.. =(

Avatar image for jimbo102671

I agree. I admit, I'm not as big a gamer today as I was just a few years ago, and I believe the lack of creativity may be to blame. If this current trend continues, this industry may lose me as a customer.

Avatar image for shabulia

This is a sad sad day indeed; although I am not surprised at all. Take a look at what is popular today. Games that are a dime a dozen and virtual clones of each other (GTA, True Crime, anything EA...) are selling in droves. This industry is growing so rapdily it is leaving little to no room for niche titles. To be honest this happening to Working Designs has me worried about other great publishers. Atlus, Agetech, and the few others brave enough to bring many Japanese imports over to the States may suffer the same fate. This industry has become a major cash cow. And big name publishers are making it worse. As more and more corporate execs try to milk this industry for all it's worth, good games will become fewer and farrer (is that a word?) between. Thank God for Nintendo. Without the big "N", we gamers may not see any innovation in the future. Compare this all to Disney. Yes, Disney makes billions of dollars every year, but one can't deny that the quality of movies that used to be put out simply isn't there anymore. The same is happening to games. Today, hundreds of titles are pushed in our faces with ads saying "BUY BUY BUY!!!" and often, reviews of games are ignored. As a result, people buy crap and more crap sequels are made. That's what happens when something gets too big. It leaves no room for the little guy, who just might offer something fresh and new as opposed to the tried and true. Working Designs fought hard to give us something unique and I will miss the company dearly. The way I see it, this is a bad sign of things to come. I have grown up with games and I love them. But I hate to think of what is happening to my beloved hobby. I hope enough people realize that we need companies like Working Designs in order to keep the creativity alive. Otherwise we are going to be left with nothing but clones of games that were once great, but squeezed of all their creative juices down to the dry bone.

Avatar image for Mit_Man

Man, what's the big deal? They're just a publisher. >_> The games they brought over and such are still being developed and things. All it means is another publisher needs to come along with the same idea. I'm sure plenty of other publishers are interested in porting popular Japanese games that have a chance in the US, and now they're probably all over getting the games Working Designs had. I'm sure we'll still get games they used to port over.

Avatar image for SeeD-LW

Companies rise, companies fall. I'd say 20 years was quite a landmark, considering the current situation. And nothing prevents the former staff from opening up shop elsewhere, under a different name. I see much of Working Designs' altruism in ATLUS, specially since they are trying to bring Metal Saga over to the US. Not exactly the kind of news one would expect to read so close to the end of the year, though. I wish that fortune smiles upon these people in their feature endeavours.

Avatar image for Chronixxxx

Agh! Working Designs was a good company....I remember them best for their PS game Alundra.....

Avatar image for OPOLO

Yeah, bring the Japanese 360 RPG's on - PLEASE

Avatar image for thepyrethatburn

I only just heard about this when I noticed Gamefaqs poll today. Sadness.

Avatar image for joyer

bleh... i didnt know they were really still around... i was always jelous when i saw ads for special lunar star packs in american magazines cause it looked exactly like what rpg fans wanted.. bit of a shame

Avatar image for CrazyPancho

Working Designs was the best in the biz as far as role-playing games were concerned. They showed how much they cared about their games with all their cool deluxe packaging and extras. All RPGers out there reading this, I implore you to play Dragon Force and Lunar so you can see what kind of quality games we could potentially miss out on. Working Designs, R.I.P. - A.G.

Avatar image for zentrad

Soo more WD means we won't see any rare Japanese RPG get translated

Avatar image for Spincut

this is terrible, working designs influenced me when i was most impressionable, but ironically faed away just before i can enter the workforce, as in college i'm currently studying business, branding and video game production. WD is the type of company i would have been most keen on working for, for its taste, style, and balance. it's a pity they had to become so lazy, yes i do think they are partly to blame for their own failure to continue. WD as always been known for having a very independent taste and a perfectionist attitudem, but lately they have been even slower and less responsive in the past, and unlike the past, they didnt have nearly as much software power to warrant it, i beleive they became a bit spoiled. i am almost angry though because they were truly a pioneer when it came to bringing over "the good stuff", but in software, and the amazing packaging they used. they were one of the main reasons to even give the saturn attention. i'm so sad they're gone, but even more so baffled despite what i said about it making sense. I had always wondered how they stayed afloat in the past 5 years, but assumed that if they;re still around now then they must have a workable way, i guess i should have not been so surprised to hear they laid everyone off a while ago and the very un-updated website had just been sitting there. but to get on the internet late at night and here a random poll question i but barely glance at at gamefaqs, it was just a bizarre way to find out,what a sad day. and the worst part it is, it feels like an April fools prank that WD just may have done......

Avatar image for ruizc83

The only two Working Design games I bought were both very good. Alundra and Lunar Star SSSC. WD always appeared to be a publisher that only cared about providing great games. The difference between Working Designs and other mainstream publishers can be seen in the difference in quality between Alunda (published by WD) and Alunda 2 (published by Activision).

Avatar image for ewjim

Hmmmm... What will it be?! *thinking*

Avatar image for sinlesskinship

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for sinlesskinship

Yeah. They (Capcom) also had trouble getting Sony to approve Megaman X4 as well. Same situation as with SNK getting Metal Slug 3 to be approved by Sony (which ended up being an xbox exclusive in the states). It's amazing how some 1st part devs overlook 2d games in general, unless they're woven into some sort of bundle collection.

Avatar image for Sonicgod

DID i mention sony wanted to not sell mega man 8 back in the 32 bit? for the lame reason it was 2d, and capcom had to "beg" sony? I remember being shocked at how dumb sony can and how they are making so much money. MEGA MAN 8! Not only did it become a "greatest hit" But for god sakes Seriouslly it is mega man! back then sony should have been begging capcom to let them have mega man 8. That is almost like telling nintendo NO no WE don't want your little mario games OVEr here in USA on our system they are 2d i dont think they will be popular.

Avatar image for Sonicgod

IT pisses me off when a company that brings over games i want to play and in huge box sets that i still keep all nice closes. Hell I have been buying there games since cosmic fantasy 2 for my tg16 and turbo duo. I still have it with the box what other company brings out those huge collectors boxes for lunar and arc the lad? Nobody! one even came with a shiny heavy metal pendant! That was some of the best money i ever spent on games About the only game i can think of that was not grade AAA was shining wisdom on the saturn i dont know why i got it.. then all good games from working are having a hard time stuff like bad boyz the game gets put out possible one of the worst ever in milion copys? I bet even people bought it more than these games that is sad,This is why i boycott most everything that is A. SUCKY B ,overrated C,\. yearly sports games trying to get more money for the same sport again every year. D. CLone games that just keep coming how many bad GTA clones do we need? Hell I boycott anything that sells well that is not a good game for that matter. I will be chooseing will with money still i bought Katamrai damacy and psychonuts. psychonuts is nice new little game that got crushed under pop culture crap I was happy to pay my money for it to bad only buying one don't help.

Avatar image for sinlesskinship

WD will truly be missed indeed. What I really find ironic is how when a company shuts down or goes out business, people start moaning & groaning as to how great the company was. When in all actually, they couldn't have given a damn about them when they were still around.

Avatar image for nemes1s3000

TranMan's got a good point.

Avatar image for bountydog

this sucks :(

Avatar image for Ornihopter

Sure im sad that the company that gave me Growlanser is gone but NIS and Atlus is IMO are alot better at bringing over RPGs from Japan.

Avatar image for firestarter

To those who blame Sony, the fact is, stuff like this was bound to happen. Gaming became corporate the moment Sony announced the original PlayStation. It became disgustingly corporate the moment Microsoft announced Xbox (oh, how I would love to see their beloved Jason Allard (not calling that wanker by a letter) impaled vertically for all the world to see). 1993 was the year things changed, not 1997.

Avatar image for VFG

NOOOOOO!!!!!!!! *sobs like a little girl* Working designs was THE BEST software company for RPG's. The Lunar serires is one of the best ever. It's really sad to hear the news. I think they spent way too much time trying to get publishing rights and not enough actually doing what they do best, updating and reinventing games into modern masterpieces. I will certainly miss the company and hope that one day the legacy of their work will continue.

Avatar image for Peter_Skerritt

Such dramatic overreaction! Some of you are going to give up gaming (allegedly). Everyone hates Sony now, despite Sony's fairly reputable track record in allowing niche titles (Mister Mosquito, Katamari Damacy, etc.) to be released. How about a little perspective here? Victor Ireland didn't always further his cause... look at the conveyor belt of delays and some of the game choices he made. Goemon has NEVER sold well in the US, so why start now, especially if your company's finances are in the crapper? I feel bad that Working Designs is no more-- I loved a lot of their localization work-- but Victor Ireland himself is at least as responsible for the demise of his company as he claims that Sony is.

Avatar image for wizo59mt

I am shocked that sony went and did that to themselves, they took a cool specialized product from there line of offerings and might have thrown it to the wind like it was trash. And the old saying goes one mans garbage is another mans treasure. Well anyways sad to see it...i love working designs works, you will be missed vic, i just hope you stay in the gaming industry and make jrpgs for xbox 360's XBOX LIVE ARCADE. I see you making some bank that way, talk to em.

Avatar image for vanhalendlrband

I didn't know they were still around after Playstation 1 and Saturn. I enjoyed there ideas, hopefully EA or SEGA will do something and just get these RPG's out here. Like who was it that decided in the first place that RPG's don't sell well over here? Half of them weren't released here in the first place. Instead we get to have Wolfenstein 3d remade a thousand times in various forms from being a US Soldier to an Alien Killer or whatever. Snorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, i can't be bored by these games anymore. I want RPG's and lots of them for XBOX and if not then i'm done with gaming.

Avatar image for barnold81

Why is Sony being so difficult for Working Designs? Is it this difficult for all developers? I'm sure Sony doesn't give Square Enix or Rockstar games difficulty when it wants to release a game. And don't tell me that Square hasn't released a few stinkers. Maybe it's because historically Working Designs games haven't sold well. No killer apps. Also, a lot of the games are re-releases of old games it seems. No completely original content really. However, I don't see what Sony would have to lose by allowing the company to release all selected games for the system. Could there potentially be some conflict of interest underlying this situation? I'm not sure what it would be, but I just can't find a good reason for these problems. BTW, I played through Lunar: The Silver Star Story Complete and I have Lunar: The Eternal Blue Complete, but haven't finished it. I played Alundra as well, and I really enjoyed it and found it challenging for a game of its type. This is a great injustice in my opinion.

Avatar image for vaejas

I shall certainly miss their excellent titles, kooky localizations, and the best worst voice acting in the business. Thanks for shaping a genre worthy of fandom.

  • 96 results
  • 1
  • 2