Working Designs closes up shop

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

96 Comments

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."

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Avatar image for StabbyYooStyle
StabbyYooStyle

Lunar for Sega Cd was the first rpg i had ever played and was the single reason for getting me hooked on rpg's/jrpg's in the first place. RIP Working Designs

Avatar image for Eclipse_ShinRa
Eclipse_ShinRa

Working Designs made some of the great games, there was like the 2nd S-E to me..I knew when S-E or Working Designs, made a game I wouldnt be let down and I never was...this is sad news in the gaming RPG world.. I mean this was a great company gone. I hope they make a big come back..I would love to see that... edit and I do agree with everything megasdkirby said. it isnt Sony's fault. It is his own fault.

Avatar image for YukoAsho
YukoAsho

Indeed, the games Working Designs published were among the greatest ever made. And, even though I feel horrible, I'm not going to cry. Vic's throwing his lot in with MS, and since MS is making a huge effort to get more Japanese product for the 360, I've no doubt in my mind that we'll see those wonderful translations again. The 360 just went from being a maybe to being a surefire purchase for me.

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soxs

Though this is bad nooz too all who loved the Lunar Saga (sniff, sniff), we should be happy that they were around enough time to show us that theres a whole new world of RPG

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solsticeblue

I wasn't particularly fond of Working Designs for their RPGs. Instead, I was fond of their "Spaz" label which brough to the US the Layer Section shooters (aka the Ray series). Still, I've had a great time. All good things must come to an end, and I hope to see you off with a smile.

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jimbo102671

It's always sad to see beloved publishers go the way of the dinosaur. But after reading the "butted heads with publishers" link within this article, I'd have to agree that a certain WD prez had something to do about this. If WD comes back from the dead (like Atari and SNK have), it needs to be without him.

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GregK

Working Designs' games convinced me to get a TurboDuo, one of the best non-obvious gaming hardware purchases I've ever made. When I was a kid I also wrote a bit of fan mail to Vic, on account of all those great games Working Designs put out...and against all odds, he responded back, which blew me away. I'd say I'll miss Working Designs, but the truth is a lot of those old games have really stuck with me and so in a way I consider them a part of me. Best of luck to the former staff in their next pursuits.

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Raven_Yuri

That's pretty sad..It was nice that Working Designs was trying to bring over more foreign titles to the US market..That and they always seemed to put in some kind of bonus for when you bough their games..*tips his hat* Nice job Working Designs for trying..I hope that you guys come back sometime or maybe work for another console that will support you more..

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doomed51

damn, another good company......gone..... hope they get in with other companies though!

Avatar image for Z3r02007
Z3r02007

I would have bought Goemon for the PS2 if they releassed it. I loved the 64 game. Screw Sony for never taking a chance with the market! *pours drink on floor* And this is for my otaku brothers who will never play so many great Japanese games.

Avatar image for megasdkirby
megasdkirby

The thing is, it is not entirely Sony's fault. It is HIS fault...most of it anyway. First, he would only support ONE system at a time (first TG14/CD/DUO, then the Sega Systems, then Sony systems). Every time one would ask why he would not support any other systems, he would come with lame excuses about "oh, there are no good games to import" or something like that. And as we all know, that was NOT true AT ALL. If he would have released games for at least two publishers (the other one being either Nintendo or Microsoft...or better yet, both), he would have gained alot more income. But no... Secondly, the price of his "Collector Edition" titles. True, they were excellent, but roughly $30 more for nicknacks? Come on. I understand $10 more, like some games that re released now at days, but his prices were incredibly steep. Third, he would take an incredibly long time releasing titles. Two years to release a game...and another year or two to release another one? It was a miracle they survived so long. And why close down the company? Why not sell it to Nintendo or Microsoft? Please don't get me wrong...I love the company, ever since the TG-16 days. But it was bound to happen. And it was mostly his fault. With more personel, proyects, and mutiple system support, they might have had a fighting chance. I hope that in the future, they come back. Their translations were excellent...all the way to 11.

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forever_blank

lol, AlexandriZ, if you think you had a bad birthday this year, well think again, my mum died on my birthday..

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forever_blank

Doesn't matter what they were, it is always sad to see a company die out... poor company....

Avatar image for Ravidrath
Ravidrath

DFalcon99, please don't misread my comment and assume that I'm a translation purist. I am pro-localization all the way, but please don't conflate my opinion of WD's localizations and localizations as a whole. It is possible to localize poorly, and I believe Working Designs is a fine example of how not to localize. To use the well-deserved WD joke stereotypes, I don't want jokes about Bill Clinton and farting in my games - it is possible to localize without resorting to that sort of puerile, lowbrow humor. Well, at least for other companies. Either way, I feel confident that Victor and crew are guilty of overlocalizing - just like their inability to balance shooters and action games, they are equally incapable of balancing the developers' original intent with their own need to "entertain."

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Mullinator

"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." I'm still trying to figure out exactly what he meant. Is he trying to denounce Sony and promote Nintendo as a matter of opinion? I say Nintendo and not Microsoft because I get the feeling he would place Microsoft along with Sony if anything but I really can't be sure.

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joeamis

I keep losing more respect for Sony each generation, for reasons other than this. Their "quality control" was always something I despised, i.e. remember when no 2d games were allowed? It's sad that Working Designs is gone, due in part to the actions of another company in the industry... WD was truly a developer to look up to and admire, a diamond in the rough. If people keep buying the least common denominator variety and corporate stronghold continues on the game industry it will suffer greatly. We are already seeing this in the proliferation of sequels and stifling of originality and creativity.

Avatar image for LanceSummerhous
LanceSummerhous

meh. I like the Lunar games quite a bit, but I never cared for the silly pop culture references and anachronisms WD liked to include in their localizations.

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swanlord

May working Designs live be reborn on the Xbox360!!! We will take you arms open wide!!!

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LancenWithmart

One of the finest game companies to this world is now gone. I pray for your recover in the future.

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BillyLeeBlack51

Lunar SSSC and Eternal Blue are 2 of my all time favorite RPGs. Working Designs did some great work bringing these games to North America. It is very sad to see the company fall. Goodluck to all the staff, I hope they find a way to continue their great legacy.

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reallaughingman

"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." what does he mean by this. Is he denouncing sony?

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dengl

Well, nuts.

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LiquidSanek

\this is truly a sad moment for real gamers, and if you don't think so then you aren't.

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Game_Jeremy

*Doesn't remember any good rpg coming out on xbox that has interested me enough to even buy the system* Btw I've never heard of 'Working Designs' so i guess its no lost to me :/

Avatar image for XenonHID_VQ
XenonHID_VQ

truely a great publisher of our time....

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m3g4t0ky0

Rest in Peace, Working Designs. I absolutely loved Lunar and Growlanser.

Avatar image for edwardryan
edwardryan

No, no, no, no, no! No Working Designs!?? Damn you, Sony! I'm sure Microsoft will be far more receptive to receiving RPGs from Japan than Sony ever was (might it have something to do with Sony's Square/Enix relationship, I wonder?). Totally sucks! Here's hoping Ireland and staff make the move to another system ... we still want your games!

Avatar image for DFalcon999
DFalcon999

Ravidrath- Yes, WD inspired others to carry on in it's place, however they never "hurt" the industry. And what you call "sophmoric translations" are actually fine examples of LOCALIZATION. Localization is adapting something so that it clicks better with audiences outside of the game's made-in country. A straight up translation is NOT always the best, in fact it can sometimes be horrid if locals know nothing of Japanese culture.

Avatar image for Statictrance
Statictrance

Wow... Let's give a warm remembrance to other lesser known *yet just as good* games by Working Designs, like Popful Mail, Vay, and Iron Storm. Just knowing that they will not be around anymore makes this gamer's heart feel a bit jaded and further proves the capitalization of the games industry is truly killing it's creativity and breadth of catalog. I am truly stunned for the second time today...

Avatar image for Ravidrath
Ravidrath

This isn't a loss. Yes, the original Lunar releases were great and Growlanser Generations was surprisingly good, but people should move on - there is a new generation of nimbler, more talented, better-logoed niche publishers now (Atlus, Xseed, Mastiff, Agetec, etc.) to more than make up for Working Designs' departure. Since Final Fantasy 7 was released and RPGs became marketable in a broader sense, Working Designs has consistently shown itself incapable of competing with publishers both large and small. From their sophomoric translations, damaging game rebalancing and ridiculous localization times, Working Designs always pretended to be serving the gaming community when, in fact, in many cases they hurt the games and delivered them long after their relevance faded.

Avatar image for Terran499
Terran499

That sucks that they hav to shut down. I'd like to have a seen a n improved follow up to Gungriffon Blaze

Avatar image for rhaigun
rhaigun

I think the line evryone should take notice of is: " The choices you make with your hardware dollars are more important than ever for the current generation that is upon us." Not to mention he expressed interest in porting JRPG's to the Xbox 360. If my mind wasn't made up before, it is now. R.I.P. Working Designs. You will be missed.

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8aihu

When some franchises come to an end others will begin. I wonder if those copies of Lunar on SEGA CD will be of even more value.

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Robio_basic

This is sad. Working Designs really was a group that didn't try and cater to the lowest levels to try and make a buck. Their name alone was just about all the assurance you needed to know it was a quality game. Curious to know exactly what Sony was pulling. Oh well, one more reason to add to my 9 book volume of reasons on why I won't be buying anymore Sony hardware.

Avatar image for tunnelrat99
tunnelrat99

Farewell to a company that knew what GAMERS wanted and not just what the big companies wanted. Your company got me into RPGs in the first place. Perhaps one day we we see you back in one from or another. You have my dollars the day that happens. You are truly about the fans and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now a part of me shall always be "eternal blue"

Avatar image for AlexandriaZ
AlexandriaZ

Man, after reading through it over and over, I am still in disbelief that WD is gone. I can't believe there is no more Working Designs. Sony has just lost a customer, killing off my favorite US publisher is unforgivable.

Avatar image for NeoFreak330
NeoFreak330

oh, Dragon Force...oh, Albert Odyssey, your days have come and gone; but when I look at your shiny spines upon my shelf, I still smile. Working Designs, you were always a "10" in my book, no make that "11".

Avatar image for AlexandriaZ
AlexandriaZ

This is the saddest news I heave heard, on my birthday of all days....WD has and always be one of my favorite publishers of all time. Today is truly a sad day.

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Rorie

And lo, the crying emoticon was verily overused at RPG forums all across the internet...

Staff
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Quezakolt

Another reason to hate how Sony does its business

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PringerOtaku

After getting excited about Valkyrie Profile's port and new addition.... this comes along. This is truly sad news, WD was the master of bringing over niche games.

Avatar image for AA7
AA7

My life is now worthless.

Avatar image for Kcube
Kcube

No more Lunar? :( They mentioned Goemon is that Mystical Ninja in the US?

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Haklong

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

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bdub20791

they better be working if they want my money...

Avatar image for ViViORO
ViViORO

Working Designs was an amazing company. Best known for bringing Lunar series to the states and Growlanser series. They took alot of risks with bringing JRPGs to the states though. Good luck to them in the future and hopefully the workers find a job.

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