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Dziobak Larp Studios Closed

Matt-M-McElroy

What Are You Afraid Of?
Validated User
Dziobak LARP Studios closing post on FB

I note that they don’t actually have solutions for Convention of Thorns of Fairweather Manor (yet), but they sure hope to get someone to fund, organize, and manage these expensive and labor intensive events on a short notice. I know a bunch of people have paid for tickets already, are those orders going to be honored if someone new comes along to run those events? Does DLS have that money set aside for the newpotential organization or is that money already spent and the mythical saviors will just have eat the revenue that would have come from ticket sales?

I guess we’ll find out over the next few months.

M
 

Tumbleweed

Supporting Cast!
Validated User
Yeah, a friend of mine was going to go to the Gangs of Birmingham one, but since it's been cancelled on such short notice it looks like she's got an impromptu London vacation. Sucks that she's likely not getting her money back.

But yeah. I doubt that this is the end of 'blockbuster' LARPs, but I'm not surprised that it went under. "Rent a castle in Poland" doesn't seem like a business strategy that's sustainable in the long run. I mean, the New World Magischola thing isn't Dziobak studios, right? Who else is putting together that kind of high-production-value LARP these days?
 

SJE

Bibliomancer
Validated User
There was a bit more on the financial side here from the owners POV. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rpUfGDrfJ4sicMvy2CcYYe8-pO2WSgbde3Lxz6-Yvqg/edit

I played 3 Dzobiak games and was due to go to Gangs of Birmingham in 3 weeks time- I was always impressed by their vision, ambition and enthusiasm. The scale of their games, the stunning locations, the high production values were eye opening, and I think they inspired a lot of LARPers to dream bigger (and I'm glad to see that happening in the UK more now with ambitious games like Jacobite, Marked, Just a Little Lovin' UK run etc.

But they over-reached a bit and it cost them. Sexual harassment issues around some of their staff, and their treatment of it then cost them a lot of tickets and enthusiasm from boycotts in 2018 and meant some of their expensive games didnt fill.

That said, I had a very positive experience in all their games, and it launched me into blockbuster Nordic LARP and made me hundreds of new friends as a result.
 

Tumbleweed

Supporting Cast!
Validated User
Okay, so ... he mentions the LARP division was subsidized by "other parts of the company." And, uh. Just what other parts are there? Or were there, you get the idea. Like, did they do anything beyond running big fancy LARPs?
 

SJE

Bibliomancer
Validated User
They had a community LARP side which did things in Danish - possibly got state funding for community events.
 

Arethusa

Sophipygian
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Sexual harassment issues around some of their staff, and their treatment of it then cost them a lot of tickets and enthusiasm from boycotts in 2018 and meant some of their expensive games didnt fill.
Is there a place to find info about this?
 

SJE

Bibliomancer
Validated User
Not really, it looks like it's been cleansed from the internet. A female LARPer made a comment in FB saying a man employed by Dzobiak had abused her during a relationship they had together. The man resigned from Dzobiak and released a huge document with screenshots of private chats and testimony from other people who'd witnessed these encounters and their relationship, then said he was suing the woman to clear his name and then took down his document and closed his social media presence down. There was also rumours that the way the man had been supported by Dzobiak and how they handled the affair, and other accusations, some about Claus the CEO who then stepped down.

A bunch of people on FB said they'd boycott Dzobiak till they improved but games like CoW and FWM were still selling out last year, though other events were clearly undersubscribed (such as Gangs of Birmingham).
 

SJE

Bibliomancer
Validated User
In an odd coincidence of timing (since it's been 18months or so) the woman just made the following post and the original man has returned to social media:

“I made a number of public statements that called in to question <former Dzobiak employee> character and conduct, and the character and conduct of his two partners.
These statements were not true, and I retract them fully. I hope that this retraction will begin to repair any harm those statements caused to <former Dzobiak employee> and to his partners.
I will make no further comment about <former Dzobiak employee> or his partners. This is my final statement on the matter. I have retracted all statements about <former Dzobiak employee> and his partners, and the matter is resolved.”

It does sound like a legal settlement has been reached.
 

Dalerik

Preaching Gaming Anarchy
Validated User
Yeah, that was an odd coincidence.

Anyways.
I've known the core danish part of the Dziobak company for a great many years, and for a start-up business, it was insanely unsustainable, not in a small part to the CEO's financial sense. He's a good man, but terrible with money.
There's an immense amount of debt in this, mostly due to an over-reach in interest during their 2017 push. There was also a bit of a community mismanagement surrounding COW, which ended up having the company losing touch with their playerbase, simply because the enthusiastic fanbase was just... not something the company really had a hand in shaping.

"Covering the current LARP expense with the funds from the next one" is not a sustainable model. What kept them afloat was a company called College of Extraordinary Experiences, that really seemed to do something great when it came to team-building and creative consulting around Europe.
There was a lot of "not calling it quits" when they should have. Borrowing money from private persons was a serious alarm bell for me, as the debt had already racked up to the point where no one would fund them anymore.

So. Is this Blockbuster LARPs death? No. But I suspect the hobby will have to contract a bit before exploding forward again. I just hope the people who need to settle the score after this adventure is no permanently indebted, and everyone who are owed money
 
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