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A complicated meme, suggesting feelings of guilt, sorrow, and regret to wargamers who played during the late 1970s.

The circumstances surrounding the failure of Simulations Publications, Inc and the takeover the flagship wargaming magazine Strategy & Tactics by TSR are obscured and muddled. Lawyers are involved, and hard feelings, and big egos.

What can be stated is a brief timeline:

  • SPI loses lots of money
  • SPI borrows money from TSR to make its payroll
  • SPI pays its employees
  • SPI goes bankrupt
  • TSR takes over
  • TSR repudiates SPI's debt

The big problem with the last fact is that one of the largest debtors of SPI were its lifetime subscribers, gamers who had payed $100 or $300 in the early 70s when SPI needed to raise capital, and who in return were promised a lifetime subscription.

Sadly, it turned out to be SPI's lifetime, not the gamers. I never bought another TSR product, and cackled with glee when TSR was bought out by Wizards of the Coast.

Moving from a bare summation of facts to opinion...

Greg Costikyan was a designer for SPI and coined the term, "SPI Died For Your Sins." You can read his take on the meme at http://www.costik.com/spisins.html

Kevin Maroney has posted to rec.games.board about how talked with Gary Gygax during this debacle. Maroney says that Gygax did not act out of malice.

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