Citing the tough economic times, Topps announced today it will be shutting down Wizkids. For those who came in late, Wizkids was the studio that made the first clicky-base game MageKnight, and then was able to spin off the concept into their most successful game, HeroClix. They had a string of other clicky-base games, the construct-a-ship game Pirates of Spanish Main, various collectible card games, a board game or two, and a few other miscellaneous products. Topps purchased Wizkids in 2003 (when founder and game genius Jordan Weisman left).
As recently as last year, Wizkids was still a very strong company, running one of the largest booths at Origins, but I don’t recall them having a presence at all in either of this year’s summer shows (though I could be mistaken.)
The ICV2 article notes that they are trying to keep the viable brands going (specifically noting Heroclix, and I’d guess Pirates would be another relatively safe franchise) but I wouldn’t hold my breath for any of their other products.
As always, best of luck to those who recently lost their jobs finding other work, especially the game designers who may have trouble finding work elsewhere, as I fear Wizkids may be only one of the first game companies to fall in this economy. Topps deciding to close Wizkids is a bad sign in and of itself, as it shows that large corporate backers are having problems, which does not bode well for the smaller independant companies.