Philly Game Forge calls it quits - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 22, 2016 10:43 am

Philly Game Forge calls it quits

The coworking space for video game developers is closing its doors at the end of the month.

The Philly Game Forge, pictured here in 2013.

(Courtesy photo)

The Philly Game Forge, a coworking space for Philly’s indie game developers, will be shutting its doors on June 30. Its last day is a Thursday: double whammy.

"The business model didn't work. It would have to be treated more like a company than a bunch of friends helping each other out."
Will Stallwood, Philly Game Forge

See, the Old City space — founded in 2013 as a way to cut costs for three burgeoning gaming companies — also served as a longterm venue for Philly Dev Night, a weekly, Thursday-night gathering where local developers would meet and network.

Will Stallwood, manager of the soon-to-be-closed space and cofounder of Cipher Prime Studios, said the Forge had been representing a big financial loss over the past year, making it harder to run the studio he cofounded with Dain Saint in 2008.

“I’m bummed about it,” Stallwood told Technical.ly. “We were trying to give the space to another team to run but nobody wanted to step up and do it.”

Will Stallwood at Philly Game Forge.

Will Stallwood at Philly Game Forge, October 2015. (Photo by Juliana Reyes)

But what happened? The space had been the home of 14 companies since ’08, five of which were founded in Philly. At its highest capacity, the Forge housed 57 members, and just last year, the Old City space got a nifty writeup in a coworking trade mag.

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One of the major blows to the stability of the space came in 2015 with the departure of Flyclops and its seven-person team (they moved to a separate HQ). The company needed more space and people to sustain operations, effectively slicing the Forge’s income in half.

“The business model didn’t work,” said Stallwood. “If we were going to do it again, we’d have to make a more it a more traditional business model. It would have to be treated more like a company than a bunch of friends helping each other out.”

What’s more disheartening about the Forge’s downfall is Stallwood’s read on the current state of Philly’s game industry: He said the ecosystem for a Forge reboot probably won’t be here for another five to ten years.

“I see more and more people coming out of Drexel for game design and they just leave immediately. We go to Drexel and talk to them all the time and it doesn’t seem like they want to work,” said Stallwood.

A silver lining amid the shutdown of the space is how Philly’s gaming community has rallied around Dev Night, a project that yielded 11 games just last April, and landed Philly companies and developers top spots in national game competitions.

The final and surely nostalgic edition of Dev Night at the Philly Game Forge will take place on the 30th. As of press time, organizers were still looking for venues to continue the weekly gathering. Hit up team@phillygameforge.com if you’re interested.

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Roberto Torres

Roberto Torres became Technical.ly Lead Philly Reporter in May 2016. Prior, he was a freelance contributor to Technical.ly and Al Dia News. The native Venezuelan moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after reporting on research at his alma mater, the University of Zulia. Whenever he's not fencing deadlines, he can be found standing in line at Overbrook Pizza in West Philly, running Netflix/Hulu marathons with his wife or reading news from Venezuela.

  • 173 people subscribe to the meetup for a Malvern PA based Game Dev meetup. There has been a lot of excitement and interest. Some people tell me they drove hours to make it. Others tell me they couldn’t find any kind of game dev “teaching group”. We still have meetups scheduled, and definitely would love to see it grow: http://www.meetup.com/Philly-Game-Works-Microsoft-Malvern/

    We had a fun and successful night hosting PHL Collective as they shared how they made Clusterpuck 99. The attendees peppered them with questions all night and we got to play a great game as we discussed game dev as well!

    Kids and parents are a source of interest. The parents want to see their kids doing “something productive”. The kids want to make games. Career professional developers wonder what the black magic is to make games. Gamers want to see how it’s done. Artists and musicians have an incredible creative streak and have decided maybe they’ll have to learn the development ropes themselves.

    It’s just been hard to get everyone together at ONCE. Weeknight meetings might be part of the fragmentation. A game dev Saturday may be the way to go, here… as it might be more convenient for people who live further away, for parents and kids, or for weary developers who just want to get home after work.

    If you are in the Philadelphia region, please consider subscribing to Philly GameWorks meetup. If you think you can be a mentor, please reach out. If we could get enough support and mentorship to run weekend workshops, we might be able to get more attendees.

    Thanks for reading. Thanks for this article.

  • mhalkyer

    So sad! I heard about the Forge and thought it was such a cool idea. I’m curious how others have made this business model work. We need more places like this on the east coast!

    Btw, the Philly GameWorks meetup is AMAZING, and I highly recommend it.

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