"Hero Games has been around for 30 years with ups and downs. The economy's been pretty rough lately, as has the gaming market. With declining sales and fewer releases, Hero has reached the point where it's no longer possible to maintain a full time staff of three, so it's scaling back.
Darren and Steve will be departing December 2nd, with our thanks for a decade of hard work that gave us 108 books, and best wishes for their future endeavors, which may include producing new books under a Hero System license. We'll keep you posted on that.
Jason will remain to continue shipping books and handling day-to-day matters. Existing books will continue to be available for purchase, and the company will continue in business, just a bit more slowly. The online store remains open. Steve will continue to answer rules questions on the Hero boards as "the guy who wrote the rulebook."
We're looking into doing a Kickstarter to print Book of the Empress, since it's complete and ready to go.
For the near future Hero would appreciate your kind thoughts and your patience. Transition periods of this sort take time, and Jason has a lot of work cut out for him, so the support of our fans is much appreciated."
Some folks are saying it's the end of Hero. I doubt it. By my count, Hero Games has been declared dead on either four or five separate occasions in the past thirty years. However, I do think that Hero ending up in this position has been something of an inevitability for the past few years. When DOJ bought them in 2002 or so, they were in pretty sorry shape. Darren Watts and Steve Long poured their hearts into the company and oversaw a veritable Hero System renaissance, beginning with the 5th edition rulebook. By a quick count, I have fifty-two Hero 5th edition rulebooks or sourcebooks on my bookshelf, and another 10 books for Hero 6th.
And that, I think, is where the problem comes in. Hero did such a monumental job of fleshing out the Hero System in its many iterations, the almost inevitable 6th edition felt somewhat unnecessary. Yes, it brought about some interesting and in all probability needed rules changes to the old warhorse, but it just seemed to go against the established momentum of the product. While the edition wars between 5th and 6th edition Hero were generally far more genteel than those between D&D 3.5 and 4, they were very similarly divisive, with many old school loyalists (read: the people most likely to buy new supplements) voting with their wallets.
That this announcement came out today feels quite a bit like synchronicity as I've had both supers gaming in general and Champions on my mind lately. There's a pretty good chance my Tuesday group will begin a Champions campaign in the not too distant future, and as I'm one of the resident gurus on the system, I've been dusting off my stuff and looking over the rules. At the same time, I've been reading a superhero novel on my Kindle that, despite some storytelling flaws, occupies a very cool and very gameable setting. So I'm hankering to pick up a big pile of d6 and crank back for a Haymaker.
Today's news is bittersweet. I have much respect and fondness for Darren and Steve. They're smart guys and they'll land on their feet whatever they do. In terms of my own gaming, it affects me not in the least. Way back when Hero was "dead" the first time (in the days before the internet, when "dead" meant you hadn't even solicited a new product in a year and the last issue of your quarterly house organ came out eighteen months ago), I figured out that I had everything I needed to keep playing. Any new material was just gravy. It's still that way.
Steve, Darren, thanks for all you brought to the table. Hopefully, we'll see more in the future, but if not, we'll always have Millenium City.