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Coleco Chameleon .... hardware speculations?

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I still have a couple of Electronic Games and VideoGames and Joystick magazines to re-read, from the 1980's! And I haven't even started on all the computer magazines yet.

 

To me, those are the best publications because they are genuinely from the time and era. And that essence is captured nicely. Even the ads, too, are now fun to look at.

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Honestly, the only value I see in taking over RETRO is in the existing retail distribution agreements with Barnes & Noble and various game stores. Otherwise, there's probably not a great deal of value in the name or in the operation as it's presently structured. It's probably more hassle than starting over from scratch without all of the baggage to wade through and ultimately deal with.

 

Perhaps instead of going thousands of dollars (or much more) in debt and having to still honor two or three more issues just spend more money on content or advertising a new magazine?

Edited by PlaysWithWolves
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Perhaps instead of going thousands of dollars (or much more) in debt and having to still honor two or three more issues just spend more money on content or advertising a new magazine?

Agreed. While I think Triverse did some good investigative journalism on the whole Chameleon fiasco, I think he also suffers from some of the same odd obsessive and pipedreamer qualities that Mike Kennedy expressed. Triverse seems to be obsessed with the name "Retro" for a magazine which frankly doesn't seem like a very valuable asset given everything that has happened here and the fact that there is already a great magazine out there called "Retro Gamer". Also, running a magazine with retail distribution requires a massive investment in writers and other staff. While Mike may have been able to string people along for a year and a half on a promise of sharing in the profits, you can bet that qualified journalists and writers are not going to make that mistake again. The whole premise of Retro was that some of the great team members from leading magazines of the 90s were going to be the staff behind it. I doubt backers are going to want additional issues of something by an entirely new team that is essentially a glorified fanzine. I think it's best to just let Retro die and if Triverse wants to create a new magazine, there will at least be one fewer competitor out there in an already dead marketplace.

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The whole magazine format is odd. Check out this suggestion to Retro Gamer (the UK magazine, neither Carl nor Mike) that they rearrange their features in a more digital-friendly format, like a searchable database. Their print goggles prevent them from even understanding the question. "Too much work," they say. Also, "check out the spreadsheet to look up a specific feature."

 

I subscribe to Retro Gamer digitally since a print subscription is so expensive here in the US (I usually subscribe for a year and then let it lapse until the urge strikes again), but it is indeed a poor reading experience. It's absolutely not optimized for anything but the print version.

 

You're almost better off designing for digital first and then doing minor tweaks for print as needed. Again, though, that makes sense in the UK, where print is still viable and the oversized magazines they produce are generally fantastic. Frankly, if here in the US you have to constantly Kickstart annual runs of your print magazine, it's probably not a good or sustainable business to be in.

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Parrothead aka Mike Kennedy is watching. Some "Big Brother" 1984 type stuff going on...

 

 

He's probably still just trying to catch up. ;)

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I still have a couple of Electronic Games and VideoGames and Joystick magazines to re-read, from the 1980's! And I haven't even started on all the computer magazines yet.

 

To me, those are the best publications because they are genuinely from the time and era. And that essence is captured nicely. Even the ads, too, are now fun to look at.

 

It may be near impossible to capture the magic those pioneering publications had, although I think the UK Retro Gamer offers the best approximation I've seen. In any case. there's a primary reason - the Internet - why we lost most computer- and videogame-centric print magazines (even ones backed with big $$$) within the past 10 years or so, and it's the same reason why we lost many other genre print magazines.

 

And I'm sure I'm not the only one who constantly gets offers for all kinds of free subscriptions to print magazines (and most of the others who don't you can get dirt cheap). They can't survive on paid subscriptions anymore, so they instead try to inflate their readership numbers so they can solely use the money from advertising to fund the publication. Not a fun business to be in.

 

On a side note, I remember around 2005 when I was shopping around the idea of a print version of Armchair Arcade and being confronted by publishing conglomerates and the reality of how poor their sales were becoming. Unless I could guarantee x number of advertising sales per month, they had little-to-no interest in releasing a new publication as part of even their more niche holdings.

 

As we know from the drive-by Internet journalism surrounding the Retro VGS/Coleco Chameleon story, it's all about volume over quality. I don't see that changing, at least in a sustainable manner.

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Something doesn't seem right. I don't think we're getting the full story here.

 

For someone who loves to call out Mike's PR blunders, why would Carl make such a post brazenly attacking Mike while he's supposedly trying to get something out of him behind the scenes? It doesn't make sense. And why would you announce a "hostile takeover"?? That defeats the whole point of catching the powers-that-be off guard. If it's announced then they know your intentions going in and can thwart it.

 

If Carl is sincere in trying to get RETRO, then this goes back to my point that the deal will never go through because of the bad blood between them. Carl wants to project the image of having his foot on Mike Kennedy's throat but even at his lowest point Mike is never going to stand for that. We know he's a prideful guy and he sees Carl as the enemy. He could just as easily not sell the magazine at all for the sake of denying Carl the use of it after Carl gloated here as if the sale is a sure thing. Then Mike squats on the name till the right buyer comes along in a few years.

 

Mike's problem with RETRO subscribers is very minor. Kickstarter doesn't care, they'd probably even take his side since he delivered two thirds of what was promised, so from their end he was operating in good faith. He could probably settle it the way other magazines do when they go out of business- just give the subscribers a free subscription to another random tech mag like Wired and call it a day. Like Bill said, they give away subscriptions to those. I remember getting a 3 year deal to Wired for like $3.99 a few years ago.

 

So why degrade someone's business practices and announce a "hostile takeover" on a public forum while trying to ink out a deal behind the scenes? Well, it's only a PR blunder if you're actually trying to make that sale go through but it can be PR gold if you're just trying to call attention to your own brand. And don't forget- April 1st is only two weeks away...

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He had "Retro Gaming Magazine" prior to Kennedy's RETRO. I don't think that speaks of "obsession."

I'm fully aware of that. It doesn't change the fact that even before the whole Chameleon thing, he was oddly obsessed with Retro and seemed very fixated on the idea that Retro had somehow infringed on his name when in fact Retro Gamer had been around for longer than both of them and there have been other non-game related magazines and other trademarks in printed media for Retro for many years now.

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Something doesn't seem right. I don't think we're getting the full story here.

 

For someone who loves to call out Mike's PR blunders, why would Carl make such a post brazenly attacking Mike while he's supposedly trying to get something out of him behind the scenes? It doesn't make sense. And why would you announce a "hostile takeover"?? That defeats the whole point of catching the powers-that-be off guard. If it's announced then they know your intentions going in and can thwart it.

 

If Carl is sincere in trying to get RETRO, then this goes back to my point that the deal will never go through because of the bad blood between them. Carl wants to project the image of having his foot on Mike Kennedy's throat but even at his lowest point Mike is never going to stand for that. We know he's a prideful guy and he sees Carl as the enemy. He could just as easily not sell the magazine at all just for the sake of denying Carl the use of it after Carl gloated here as if the sale is a sure thing. Then Mike just squats on the name till the right buyer comes along in a few years.

 

Mike's problem with RETRO subscribers is very minor. Kickstarter doesn't care, they'd probably even take his side since he delivered two thirds of what was promised, so from their end he was operating in good faith. He could probably settle it all the way other magazines do when the go out of business- just give the subscribers a free subscription to another random tech mag like Wired and call it a day. Like Bill said, they give away subscriptions to those. I remember getting a 3 year deal to Wired for like $3.99 a few years ago.

 

So why degrade someone's business practices and announce a "hostile takeover" on a public forum? Well, it's only a PR blunder if you're actually trying to make that sale go through but it can be PR gold if you're just trying to call attention to your own brand. And don't forget- April 1st is only two weeks away...

Yep, not sure how you can engage in a "hostile takeover" of a company that isn't even publicly traded.

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Yep, not sure how you can engage in a "hostile takeover" of a company that isn't even publicly traded.

 

In most countries hostile takeovers of privately held companies are possible, if the owners of the company are for but the management is against the takeover. It would seem that Mike is the 'management' here, but if he is not the majority owner of whichever company owns the magazine then he wouldn't be able to prevent the takeover or sale of the magazine.

 

If you take over the magazine, make sure you get all the associated domains, including:

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So why degrade someone's business practices and announce a "hostile takeover" on a public forum while trying to ink out a deal behind the scenes?

 

 

To get the price down, perhaps? I have no idea what a venture like RETRO might be worth, but it's less than it would have been six months ago, that's for sure.

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Are we debuffing triverse now?

MK is only one of several shareholders.

 

The nomination for this thread's Most Important Post that's Largely Forgotten or Ignored goes to (emphasis, mine):

 

 

 

I wouldn't read too much into things like this, UK has been busy with family, I have family and hobbies that are honestly more interesting than commenting on this daily, would I rather take the plane out and fly the Blue Ridge mountains on a sunny day or rehash this, I'm going flying! I am not deliberately being hermetic, some things need more words than others and I'd rather not repeat myself over and over, many people are doing a great job of making the important points all over the web. I also don't want to play into something that MK has been working at very hard, putting a face on a large groundswell reaction to claim that its just this one guy, or this one podcast or that one forum. I also know allot that I can't or won't comment on for various reasons, simple honest reasons such as people asking to be left out of it, or that the source is communications sent in confidence which I will keep. But I will say that there are a few more people than UK Mike and I that are reading and even commenting on this thread that are stakeholders in all this. I think UK Mikes response to thenavguy's questions was spot on, and summarily ignored. I also bear no ill will toward the Coleco brand, it was my first console and I would love to see good things for that name. Those of us "in the know" are astonished that they did not look into what they were putting their name on closer, there was so much bad news already tied to this thing. I will do my best to explain what you asked though, what are they thinking with some of the issues discussed here.

 

Phases of participating in an MK project. One thing that has been touched on is how John Carlson was thrown under the bus, and backed over. I was amused and annoyed by him but now he is in the same boat that quite a few of us are in; an MK project alumni club. I would sit down for a beer with John if I saw him, he probably had no idea what he was getting into. There is a very clear pattern of how things progress in one of these projects and almost anyone involved in one would have the same story. A few years ago I was looking for a Subaru Baja turbo and they have been out of production since 06 and not easy to find so that meant dealing with the used car market, I found a clean one at a dealership in Manassas and went to look it over. It was one of those buy here pay here kind of places but the truck was clean so I wrote them a check and left with it. While I was there I could not help but feel like I was on the set of some reality show, things felt scripted and contrived as if the employees were playing roles and working from a script. I posted about this on a car forum that I am on and someone responded that I had seen a "system store" in action. As it turns out there are consultants that will come to your dealership and teach you how to process customers to get the highest number of sales with the least effort and there is a flow chart that customers are passed along resulting in getting them into a car or out the door very quickly. I think that MK has developed a system store method for utilizing talent for turning his dreams into reality. The first phase is that he has an idea for a entrepreneurial venture but only that, not the means or methods to make it into a real thing. Phase 2 is finding the people that can and offering them future value in the form of stock or other benefit such as one company paying back the other. There is allot of "WE" in this phase, your damn near partners and it is the two of you 51% and 49% all the way baby. The we is also you working while he is learning what you know and then popping off for a wine tasting while you get the work done. Phase 3 is looking for your replacement while your still involved, that person is given the same deal and story and never told about you if at all possible, if needed new promises of future profits are created, In his own words quoted on this forum, ran out of stock to sell, created a new company. Then your off the project, maybe you just stop getting calls, maybe your called hard to work with, maybe the company is dissolved, but whatever method it is your promises of future compensation are up for re-interpretation. Phase 4 is denial and diminishing. Any negative aspects of the project are attributed to you while your role is continually downplayed "Yeah, yeah, he wrote a few articles but wasn't really a part of it" or "He just made a few phone calls but wasn't really a part of it" etc.

 

Controlling the narrative. Big time issues here and this is not the MIke I knew. I recall one time we made up a poster to promote RetroGaming Roundup at shows we attend and part of it was quotes from iTunes reviews. Of course we put in some of the best positives but we also had a crop of the negative reviews just to be cheeky, one of my favourites is "There are so few retro gaming podcasts out there, it is a shame this is one of the biggest" still makes me laugh to this day. We have never deleted posts or kicked people off our forums/FB/etc. This is all new behaviour but the cause and effect is apparent, there is a huge and very deep backlash to the things that they are doing and people are talking about it, which is of course bad press. If you add up the negative Vs positive youtube views for example it is obvious that the community is not loving this and they simply cannot accept that is the legitimate reaction to the project. That email about him trying to have a video taken down was very telling. The 24/7 deleting and banning on FB coupled with what is very obviously a small and contrived positive group mixed in with a few casual questions is a desperate attempt to control the appearance of legitimacy where they can. What I am seeing is a N. Korea type farcical presentation of legitimacy, so absurd and easily seen through but clearly crafted to be presented to crowdfunding as look we are real, have a real prototype, and have an adoring fan following, hoping that they don't look at anything other than those sources.

 

Lying. I can only factually tell you what I dealt with. When he came up with the idea for Retro mag I had recently bought part of GameGavel, which with me being in the denial and diminishing phase he has referred to me as a "small minority shareholder" also known as the only one of his friends who gave him money, and I asked him if this was a separate venture or part of GG and he affirmed that it was part of GG so I said "Ok". When he was launching it he utilized the RetroGaming Roundup show and its media outlets heavily, on a daily basis and there was allot of promising about how the show was going to be integrated and see advertising and representation but when the first issue came we were no where to be found other than in a top ten listing. UK and I called him up and asked WTF was everything we were promised. At first it was a "yeah you know we really had to rush to put this together and maybe in the future ....." but UK and I pressed him on why he had everything else done and pointed out that we could have prepared those things but were never asked. Finally we got the email where we were addressed in a very cold sterile and stiff manner and were told that magazines simply did not do those sorts of things and thats the way it was. That is when and why UK and I stopped writing for the mag. So when he came up with the idea for the console, if you search this thread I have discussed my role in that already, I asked him a similar question, is this studio (which is what it was at the time, a studio to be followed by a console by that studio) a new business or part of GG/Retro and he affirmed that it was part of GG/Retro and as I recall the phrase was something like "Yeah, yeah, its got the RETRO logo stamped right on the front of it" and I said "Ok". And this is what I believed right up until the Indigogo/kickstart of the Retro VGS. If you search the other thread which is now closed you will find my comment that I stood to make money on this system if it succeeded, at that time I was still unaware of the new company that had been created about a month before the kickstarter/indigogo and the RETRO VGS assets transferred into that, and speaking for myself and two other GG/Retro shareholders we were never told about that. When we found out and confronted him about it the response was absurd and has been quoted in this thread. He claimed that it was always going to be a separate venture but that GG would benefit at arms length by free subscriptions to the mag and such. So quite frankly I don't care if it is the greatest console on Earth. If you look at the dates the companies were created and closed and overlay that with the various announcements and claims made you can clearly see that all but the last month prior to kickstarter/Indiegogo #1 of development of concept and the actual product was done prior to the new companies existence with the logo stamped right on it totally disproving the notion it was a separate thing. When confronted by this his response as UK Mike put it was a Coke and a Smile of how we just don't understand why what it did is Ok and good for us. If not illegal it is certainly unethical so any of this talk about the outrage and indignity at how people are reacting to the project is the most pompous and arrogant position that could be taken.

 

System designed and molds purchased under this company: GAMEGAVEL LLC Entity Number:201029410278
Assets move to this company one month prior to launch: RETRO ENTERTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY, INC. Entity Number:C3823713
Assets were moved to this third company that is selling it as the Coleco Chameleon: RETRO VIDEO GAME SYSTEMS, INC. Entity Number:C3850998

Edited by PlaysWithWolves
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To get the price down, perhaps? I have no idea what a venture like RETRO might be worth, but it's less than it would have been six months ago, that's for sure.

 

But a hostile takeover implies that there is value in there and it's worth getting by unconventional means. If it was worthless it would be bought and sold for peanuts without any fuss.

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PlayingWithWolves just hit the nail on the head. Thanks for finding that post from PiperCub to help us remember that there are more stakeholders in this than just Mike Kennedy!

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But a hostile takeover implies that there is value in there and it's worth getting by unconventional means. If it was worthless it would be bought and sold for peanuts without any fuss.

 

 

I would think there's a middle ground between "worthless" and "valuable."

 

Anyway, it sounds like MK is not the only stakeholder or decision maker. I guess we'll find out more soon enough.

 

And this discussion thread continues to dangle and tease me as if I were a playful kitten.

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The shift about the magazine stuff almost seems like it warrants a different a thread.

 

(I guess this was one way to smash through the 300 pages barrier...)

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Agreed on the comments about the hostile takeover thing. Until we hear otherwise from the source, we'll just have to assume it was poor wording for what is actually happening (or not happening, whatever the case may be).

 

I suppose in some ways it's fitting that this too is playing out in this thread, because the magazine defections and potential devaluation may not have happened (at least this soon) without the halo effect from the Retro VGS/Coleco Chameleon fallout.

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As someone still owed two issues of RETRO from doing the Kickstarter, I'd love to get those last two issues, but I'm not holding my breath.

 

And yeah, the language being used here is confusing. it clearly sounds like MK stiffed a lot of people and owes them money. if Carl does get the assets of the company, would that deal include money from MK to pay everyone off owed? Otherwise Carl could find himself being sued by the writers and editors and ex-RETRO people owed money since any contract transferring over assets would include debt. (Unless the contract was worded in such a way that he gets the assets WITHOUT the debt, but such a deal happens very rarely in the US).

 

The quality of the mag did go down a lot over the issues, but the main problem for me wasn't the shifting of covering to 'new' retro games, as I play those and love them. The major problem was that they started boasting about all this top talent they had writing for them, people like Bill and Willie and others, and then they lost all of them. The writing went WAY downhill after that.

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Well, to throw in my opinion. I don't know if it is so much about getting Retro as it is about getting Rid of Retro. IF a new mag came out in the same market with RETRO as part of the title and basically about the same subject matter to the same audience. I would be worried that the Retro owner would cry foul and bring up some legal issue against it. Taking over retro would give one the subscriber base distribution, and remove a potential legal threat before going back into print.

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Off-Topic fantasy scenario:

 

If you could bring back one company from the ashes and resurrect a console they've made (perhaps with some design changes) into the current market...who would it be and why?

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But a hostile takeover implies that there is value in there and it's worth getting by unconventional means. If it was worthless it would be bought and sold for peanuts without any fuss.

 

Carl could be channeling Jack Tramiel for some retro-style negotiations. Tramiel was famous for basically toying with people who had no other option other than to sell to him. He'd initially offer a low-ball bid. If the other guy tried to negotiate a higher price, Jack would revise his bid even LOWER each time the guy asked for a different amount than what Jack offered. It was often effective, but guaranteed to make everyone who did business with him think he was a major a-hole. It also backfired when the person or company did have other offers. I don't think Mike has any other options. If he did, he wouldn't have to funnel the money he made from making new Jag cases into Retro Magazine, and he would have paid the people who worked on the magazine. So Retro/Mike clearly is in need of money or at least relief of debt and obligations- not unlike when Warner basically gave Atari to Tramiel to relieve them of the debt burden before their next shareholder meeting.

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