In honor of Easter, I decided to take another look at Left Behind Games (small public video game publisher with license to extremely popular fiction series "Left Behind") to see if it was still suffering on the cross or whether it would be rising from the dead. I originally blogged about LBG in October, 2006 (here) when the stock was at an amazing $7 (LFBG.OB), and I pointed out that it was stupidly overvalued based on any reasonable metric.
So what has happened in the meantime? Well, the stock is now at $.31 (yes, that's cents, as in slightly more than a quarter), giving the company a valuation of roughly $8M, but it's recently been as low as $.18 per share. The company did $1M in Q4 2006 as their flagship game product hit the shelves, but the company lost $4M+, giving it almost no cash reserves in Q1, 2007. The game has received mostly mediocre reviews, although I thought it was a reasonable effort, and LBG is pretty much Dead On Arrival at this point.
So what went wrong? Well, you have an incredibly strong license here - I love the Left Behind Intellectual Property - it has tens of millions of books sold, a great fan base, loyal authors, and a rich set of characters that one could mine forever to create rich video games. There are numerous ways one could leverage this brand into multiple video game revenue streams, but their initial game was not one of the obvious first steps.
So what does this management team do with such a strong license? They reverse the company into a shell company to get it public (1st bad move - you couldn't get funding with this license?), then spend an amazing $20M+ on building the first complex RTS game (2nd bad move - do they even know how to build games?), and then, by the way, on the side, they try to build a Christian social media site (www.dreamwebspace.com - this would be the first time anyone has ever mentioned this site) while seemingly forgetting the core shareholder premise - let's build a video game franchise around a huge literary gem.
Without ever meeting the executive team, you have to conclude that there is an incredible lack of competence here. The license rocks - how does one blow that amount of money on producing such a mediocre game while apparently spending more time pumping out press releases than actually doing QA on the game? There were an amazing 8 press releases in December alone, including such gems as "Tyndale House Publisher Supports Left Behind Games", or my favorite from January, "Left Behind Games Receives First Order from Australia" (must be a huge market - can't wait for the New Zealand or Singapore press release)
The company is dead, and it's too early in March to see if resurrection will take place. It's a huge bummer because the license deserves a strong development and publishing partner. I hope Tyndale actually looks for competence next time they choose a video game licensee.