Friday, 9 November 2012
The truth about Maelstrom Games
There have obviously been rumours about issues at Maelstrom Games for quite some time now. There was the issue with Battlefront Games and Gale Force 9 that actually resulted in them pulling supply of their product to Maelstrom Games, and the resulting fall out all of that caused. You can read Maelstom Games Battlefront Miniatures statement from that particular incident. I guess that was the first sign that things were not all that good and rosy in Mansfield. Then there has been the perennial problems they've seemed to have with getting a ready supply of stock, in particular Privateer Press stock over the last year or so. At first I brought the fact that they (Privateer Press) were struggling to keep up with demand... but that recently evaporated as a plausible reason when you looked around at other stores and saw they weren't having the same issues Maelstrom Games were having. Yet despite my personal suspicions I have never once had a problem with Maelstrom getting me the stock I've ordered, and the only time I had a slight issue it was sorted within 24 hours and that was the Hell Dorado book turning up water damaged.
But today they posted a statement up on their website, which has replaced the holding statement that the website was down for maintenance:
You can of course see it for yourselves here. It seems though that the Internet rumour mill has indeed got it right, and it seems Maelstrom Games are indeed going to the wall with quite significant debts. I would strike a note of warning here that this is Maelstrom Games version of events, and although I have known for some time now that this was the situation I will be personally seeking confirmation from the other parties included, namely Wayland Games and Simple Miniatures.
As I have said I have known of this situation for about a month or so now, and I can only apologise about not being in a position to confirm this state of affairs, as none of the individuals involved were willing to go on the record over this. I uncovered the fact that Wayland Games had purchased roughly £100,000 of Maelstroms Debt's to Simple Miniatures around the end of October. I have spoken with individuals at Maelstrom Games and Wayland Games about this, and asked them both to clarify the situation for customers primarily. This didn't happen for various legal reasons, and given the litigious nature of the activity I did not want to put my own financial ass on the line as it were. All I will say is this, I don't really think any organization comes out of this situation smelling of roses. Firstly how the hell did Maelstrom Games allow their debts to get to such unmanageable levels, it isn't professional, and I'm sure many of you will know I have a more than cordial relationship with Rob Lane. But, on the point about building up such a significant amount of debt I can not defend him or his company and the way it was run.
Secondly, I'd have to question Simple Miniatures for allowing the debt to get so out of hand. I understand that at times companies feel the need to extend credit to their clients, but to allow such a huge tab seems to be exceedingly unprofessional, and while I have the greatest amount of sympathy for them, because it is they who were owed the funds, I have to question the wisdom of allowing more and more credit to an organization that was either unable, or unwilling to pay off its previous debts. Finally there is the third party to all this Wayland Games. I have spoken to Richard Lawford about why it was that he brought the debt in the first place. He has said it was to do with securing his supply chain, and that Simple Miniatures being out of pocket was a potential risk for them, because of the debt owed by Maelstrom Games. He of course has every right to protect his supply chain and to do so in whatever legal way he sees fit. But, there will be questions over whether that was Wayland Games ultimate motive or whether it was an attempt at buying out, or crippling a competitor. As always with such things I extend the benefit of the doubt to anyone, but questions will remain unanswered, and I will be seeking answers from all parties over this.
But what of the fourth party in all of this? You the customer? Well it looks like you've been shafted. I'm not fully aware of your rights under UK or EU law if you have any outstanding orders placed with Maelstrom Games. I'm not sure if Maelstrom Games will be able to fulfill those orders that have been placed, or whether suppliers will allow them to given the current parlous state of the organizations finances. So yet again it appears the customer is the biggest loser in all this, although perhaps financially that might not prove the case. So there is now one less competitor in the marketplace, which can only be a bad thing for consumers. But, in a way it might actually be healthier for the industry as a whole if such large online retailers are removed from the equation. I've certainly heard enough people express that opinion strongly over the last few weeks while I've been trying to get people to go on the record. I humbly disagree. Our industry needs to find a way to support its growth with these large Internet retailers as key players, because I can't see the model going away. However, it has to be sustainable for all involved, and it's clear that Maelstrom Games wasn't. Peace out!
EDIT: Just for editorial impartiality Wayland Games have put up a statement here. As I said there are always two sides of the story, so read their statement as well.
SECOND EDIT: Simple Miniatures have placed a statement regarding the situation on their own website here. Again if you want to get the full picture I'd advise you to go and read their side of things.