Founded in 1986 by Sylvia Schmitt and Todd Mark, Working Designs began its life as a software developer for the transportation industry. After Todd Mark's sudden death, Victor Ireland and Sylvia Schmitt were now in charge of the company's future. It was at this point that Working Designs became a video game publisher that specialized in the localization of Japanese RPGs and shooters. Famous for their unique packaging, localized pop-culture references and humor, niche-based focus and outspoken CEO, Working Designs enjoyed success as one of the premier publishers of obscure games.
After several years of success publishing games for Sega's hardware, Working Designs famously and publicly abandoned working on Sega hardware after releasing the final game for the Sega Saturn, Magic Knight Rayearth, with limited production. They eventually succumbed to the financial strain of increased publishing costs, aided by the expansion of the RPG market and increased willingness for Japanese publishers to localize in-house.
After leaving Sega, Working Designs continued their localization track record on the Playstation and PS2.
On December 12, 2005 Working Designs closed their doors, laying off their entire staff and posting the following notice on their website:
First of all, sorry for being incommunicado for such a long time. It's been a busy time, as you'll see.
There's no easy way to say it, so I just will. Working Designs is gone. All the staff has been laid off and the office is closed and has been for some time. Yes, the website is still here, and I am going to do my best to keep it tucked away somewhere on the 'net so it doesn't become an illicit domain. (Of course, some of the haters may be of the mind that it's been illicit all along, heh!).
The most frustrating part of all of this is that I know that our fanbase is still there. Growlanser Generations sold well, but of course not better than it would have sold as two separate titles. We just spent too much time fighting the good fight to even get it out, and other games approved.
Though almost finished and substantially improved from the Japanese release, Goemon is dead for the US, and that was really the final straw. If I can't guarantee that the games I personally choose for us to release in the US can actually get approved and come out, there's no business to be done. There is a possibility that it may be released in Europe (as well as Growlanser Generations), but nothing is finalized yet.
I know many of you will have lots of questions, and there will be some I can answer, and some I can't. Sony has made it clear that they do not want the details of their dealings with any publisher made public. Suffice to say that you would buy what we wanted to sell if we could sell it.
I want to thank each and every one of you personally for being a fan, buying the games we released, and telling your friends. You HAVE made a difference, because you bought the crazy things we did. Thanks to YOU, there are deluxe packs, pack-in soundtracks, better packaging, great hint guides, and better localizations in general. We said it a lot, but it really was true. We were nothing without you.
For the future, there are still great opportunities. I have been in touch with a number of other publishers and manufacturers and I will be working with some of the WD staff to do games for other publishers for the time being, but not as Working Designs. One thing that holds a ton of promise is xbox 360 RPGs, and I've contacted Microsoft about getting what's underway in Japan out in the US and helping to get more done worldwide. We'll see what happens on that front, but please let them know that you want more rpgs here. There's some amazing stuff coming for the '360 in Japan, and I know I want it - I think you will, too.
Thanks for everything. It's a tough road ahead for games that aren't of the least-common-denominator variety. The choices you make with your hardware dollars are more important than ever for the generation that is upon us.
With that, I bid all of us...
...Good night, and Good Luck .
CEO and Founder Victor Ireland later announced he had started a new company, Gaijinworks.