JoWood Closing Up Shop
German news site Boerse-Express is reporting that the publisher has failed to recapitalize its way out of crushing debt. For all intents and purposes, the company would now appear to be toast.
JoWood had been granted a stay of execution by a Vienna court in January as it tried to find new investors to inject cash into the ailing company. The two investors that looked most likely to save the publisher have both pulled out, and the huge amount of debt incurred by JoWood in previous years and a disastrously unprofitable 2010 looks to be insurmountable. The standard bankruptcy filing the company is now in could result in individual properties being sold off to pay back its creditors.
JoWood is most known for the Gothic IP. Arcania: Gothic 4 (pictured) came out in October of last year, and has a DLC expansion in the works. What this news means for that product and the Gothic franchise in general is unknown, though many fans of that series have migrated to original developer Piranha Bytes' new franchise, Risen.
The other three reasons you might know JoWood are for its Painkiller, The Guild, and SpellForce properties. Painkiller was a great game at first, but the series went significantly downhill after original developer People Can Fly moved on to different things. The Guild and SpellForce are PC strategy games that never caught on much in the U.S., though they each have their followings.
JoWood purchased Canadian publisher Dreamcatcher Games in 2007, and that branch has served as its North American arm since. Dreamcatcher is known for pumping out a ton of adventure games, as well as obviously publishing JoWood's products on this side of the Atlantic. We don't know at this point what will happen to Dreamcatcher; it was an independent company not so long ago, so it's not difficult to see a situation in which it splinters back off of JoWood or is bought as an individual unit by an outside investor.
It's always sad to see a company go. Best wishes as always to anyone whose employment is affected by this news.