There’s an announcement on the Hero Games web page stating at Steven S. Long (line developer) and Darren Watts (president) are leaving the company. Jason Walters (general manager) will remain the only full-time employee.
It’s difficult to avoid reading a lot into such an announcement. Does this mean the end of the Hero System? Probably not for a while, anyway.
Certainly there are plenty of of folks out there who will continue to play and run Hero System games. And the company has stated that there will be an attractive third-party publisher option out there for those who which to support the system.
There are also indications that Long and Watts will continue to support the system as freelancers or third-party developers.
If this had happened fifteen years ago, I’d declare the Hero System dead. But we aren’t living in the same publishing environment that existed in the 1990s. Look at the 3.5DnD/Pathfinder resurgence, look at the OSR movement. A body of interested, altruistic fans can not only keep a line alive, they can make it flourish.
The barrier-to-entry to self-publish is as low as it’s ever been. Sure, that means a lot of crappy writers and publish crappy books — and we’ve seen a lot of this — but it also means that a pool of talented and devoted fans can produce some very excellent work for no more risk than the time required to write it.
We’ve seen new publishing models develop and evolve over that past decade — models no one could have predicted. Perhaps another model can grow from this troubling announcement.