• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is LIVE! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

Steve Jackson Games Releases Stakeholder Report for 2023

Despite lower revenue, still says 2023 a “Golden Age for Gamers”


Steve Jackson Games released their annual Stakeholder Report for 2023. As is is privately owned by Steve Jackson, the company report to shareholders as a corporation would but still releases the annual report to the public as they consider their employees, business partners, and customers to all have a stake in the company.

In summary, Steve Jackson games had gross revenue of $3.5 million and posted a loss for the year. The company’s TTRPG offerings GURPS and The Fantasy Trip both fell under the “Ehhh” category for products with GURPS having no physical releases for the year and The Fantasy Trip still underperforming in sales. The big sellers for the company were Car Wars and Munchkin Digital. The only failure listed for the company involved delays on an unannounced product.

Big perfomers for the year were the board game Car Wars 6th Edition and the digital version of Munchkin from Dire Wolf Digital. Both the company’s big tabletop RPG lines were listed under “Ehhh”, with GURPS having no physical releases and only PDF and POD offerings while The Fantasy Trip not catching on in the wider market despite continuing to “please its fans”.

Staffing changes also impacted the company with new CEO, Managing Editor, and Marketing Directors joining the company and some key personnel leaving such as ex-CEO Phil Reed and ex-Chief Creative Officer Sam Mitschke. At the year end, the company had “30+ full-time staff including contractors, plus a few part-timers”.

The report also comments on the state of the industry, calling it a “golden age for gamers, with more variety and sheer volume than ever before”. This comes with challenges as distribution issues continue despite lowered shipping costs as printing and shipping costs haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. Distribution issues meant schedules slipping with Q3 2023 releases not shipping until 2024 and retailers expressing difficulty getting product from distributors.

In summary, 2023 was a rebuilding year for Steve Jackson Games. Priorities for 2024 include ensuring the release schedule is met and “don’t get crazy about adding other things just because they would be neat”, designing a strong 2025 release schedule for new Munchkin products, and for the “Seekret Projekt” mentioned earlier as a “failure” for the company to be in shape for an announcement (not a release, just an announcement) by the end of the year.

log in or register to remove this ad

Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

SJG pivoted away from RPGS and leaned heavily into table top games like Munchkin, Zombie Dice, Frag, Chez Geek, etc., etc. which I think was a wise move on their part. Even if 2023 was a bad year, they're still making games.
Munchkin has kept them afloat for decades now, and Steve's quick to acknowledge that. Everything else is kind of a sideline at this stage, but they're fun sidelines.

If you go back through the 20 years of stakeholder reports at the link in the OP it's evident that they've grown considerably over time, peaking around 2013-ish and then starting a slow contraction that they seem to have anticipated and planned for. Even with seven years of downward trending (include the COVID debacle) they grossed about 50% more than the did in 2003 while also having almost twice as many employees. Not looking great at the moment but they seem to understand they need some kind of change to improve direct sales and reduce reliance on a distributors that are in far, far worse shape than most publishers in the industry.

log in or register to remove this ad


Not having a real clue about printing and distribution on the publisher level, but between covid snags, blocked canals and regional conflicts and the high costs and lags incurred with international shipping even without all that, I'm wondering if the RPG industry could investigate adopting a "go glocal" movement. Contracting with regional printers (North America, Europe, Asia, whatever) to print and distribute their books. No clue what size print runs it would take to make it a viable model, but at least it cuts on time and the environmental footprint.

Just an idea.
It's just not viable from a cost standpoint. Companies in China spent about a decade setting up their manufacturing channels. They went to empty land and set it up so that the trees are harvested from the sustainable replanted forests and it's a straight line from plant to plant processing it into pulp and making it into paper/cardstock and then heading to the printers and then into cargo containers and on a ship. The process is incredibly efficient.

Meanwhile, we harvest the trees in Oregon to be turned to wood pulp in Idaho which is made into paper in Arizona which is printed in Ohio. With added costs every step of the way in time and materials.

On top of that, the printers in China are pretty much brand new and have a lot more options and the ability to match colors much better, while many printers in America are decades out of date and either can't reproduce the same results or can only do so at a much greater cost in materials and labor.

I remember one publisher said back when the shipping crisis was at its peak that they looked into moving to domestic printers, but that printing in the United States would've been three times more expensive and only half the quality and the only thing that made it remotely viable at the time was that shipping from China to the US was ten to twenty times more than it was the year prior. Shipping prices are still outrageous, but they've lowered significantly since that time.

If you want an idea of what that means for a small business like a game company, the publisher said that the game in question (which was rather simple as it was just printed custom cards in a box) that they currently charged $19.95 for would have to raise to $49.95 to stay exactly as profitable if printed in the US. And customers won't accept that kind of massive price increase.


It's too bad that Steve Jackson is so tight fisted with the GURPS property. More licensing of the system, more support of third parties publishing supplements would have gone a long way towards keeps GURPS on something besides life support.

It's too bad that Steve Jackson is so tight fisted with the GURPS property. More licensing of the system, more support of third parties publishing supplements would have gone a long way towards keeps GURPS on something besides life support.
Licensing and 3PP support hasn't helped HERO System all that much as far as I can see, and that's arguably GURPS' closest rival in terms of design space these days. They're both fairly high-crunch attempts at a "do anything and everything" system, both have loyal fan bases, and neither has had much luck expanding their audience in years now despite impressively long production histories. Maybe GURPS would be helped more than HERO, but it would really depend on what 3PP actually came out with if they were allowed to play with that toybox.

Fantasy Trip never seemed like something that was going to set the world on fire in 2024. It's very much of its time -- that time being the late 1970s. It's nice that it's available for its pool of fans, though.
Well, maybe. It's a serviceable medium-light crunch fantasy RPG as-is, but there are quite a few of them out there and (at least going by the forum discussions at the game's site) doesn't seem to have been cleaned up as much as I'd have expected before the relaunch. Exactly what you need to buy isn't very clear from the store descriptions either, which probably isn't helping sales much. And even allowing for inflation, both Melee and Wizard are a lot less appealing at $15 a pop than they were at, what, $2.95? Better components is nice but that nice, so there goes a major entry point for the full RPG.

It's interesting to mull over the What If? scenario of SJG getting TFT when they left Metagaming the way they did Ogre, etc. We'd probably never have had GURPS as such, with TFT having 40-ish years of growth and development instead and likely diversifying over time into something like GURPS, but perhaps a bit less complex and a bit less versatile overall. Hard to say if a longer publication history and more design evolution would have made alt-TFT more or less successful than GURPS actually is, though.

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
It's too bad that Steve Jackson is so tight fisted with the GURPS property. More licensing of the system, more support of third parties publishing supplements would have gone a long way towards keeps GURPS on something besides life support.
Preach on, full agree, 100%

Argyle King

It's too bad that Steve Jackson is so tight fisted with the GURPS property. More licensing of the system, more support of third parties publishing supplements would have gone a long way towards...

On the other side of the coin, SJ Games tends to pay well for writing, and they're open to receiving ideas for content.

If you have a good idea and are willing to write it, the company is willing to pay for it.

Voidrunner's Codex

Related Articles

Remove ads

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads