"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."
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.”
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.