Collector’s editions of games are all the rage, and swag like art books and plushies are as coveted by collectors as the games themselves. Limited Run Games co-founders Josh Fairhurst and Doug Bogart founded their company to meet the growing demand for collectibles on games such as Sigil.
I spoke with Bogart about Limited Run’s history and mission, and working with John Romero to design and manufacture the goods found in Sigil’s limited editions.
Craddock: From your LinkedIn career summary, you started out as a wireless sales consultant at Best Buy before getting a job in tech support at Ubisoft. Had you always had your eye on joining the games industry?
Douglas “Doug” Bogart: Yes and no, I knew I wanted to do something with games one day, but I figured it would be music. I was pretty determined to breakthrough somehow in the music industry, but unfortunately, it just wasn't in the cards.
Craddock: What type of work did you do at Ubisoft?
Doug Bogart: I was a GM for Ghost Recon Phantoms for a bit as well as tech support for Ubisoft's other titles.
Craddock: What led you to join Mighty Rabbit Studios, and how did your work there differ from your responsibilities at Ubisoft?
Doug Bogart: I actually joined Mighty Rabbit Studios on a contract basis before Ubisoft. It was because I was at MRS that I was able to hear about Ubisoft and apply. At MRS I started off as a game tester and then went to work at Ubisoft doing technical support, so it was very different, but my skills from talking with people at Best Buy carried over.
Craddock: How did you meet Josh Fairhurst?
Doug Bogart: I met Josh in my sixth-grade science class and we became friends in March of 2000. We bonded over Gundam Wing and started a GeoCities site.
Craddock: How did you and Josh come up with the idea for Limited Run Games?
Doug Bogart: I was working for Josh at Mighty Rabbit Studios and we had just run out of contract work. We only had a little money left and Josh could either pay everyone two months’ pay and shut the door or preserve the one game that was on PSN, Breach & Clear. Thankfully he chose to proceed with Limited Run and brought me on to help.
Craddock: What are your responsibilities at Limited Run Games? What does Josh handle?
Doug Bogart: My job roles include developer outreach, going to events, managing the support team and managing the marketing team. Josh's role is to manage all of us, coming up with new ideas, ordering games and assisting with developer outreach.
Craddock: Including you and Josh, how large is the Limited Run Games team?
Doug Bogart: We are currently at 20 fulltime employees and a few part-timers.
Craddock: You’d worked in game development for several years. What appealed to you about Limited Run Games’s focus on distribution?
Doug Bogart: I had eight years of sales experience and felt like it would be a better role for me. Game development is fun in its own way but being able to talk to developers and customers is something I'm a lot better at.
Craddock: Game collectibles have become increasingly popular. What did you and Josh want Limited Run Games to offer consumers that perhaps they could not find elsewhere?
Doug Bogart: We wanted to bring back physicality to video games. Digital games had been on the rise and it seemed the box experience was starting to fade away. We are huge collector's so we wanted to appeal to gamers and other collectors. We wanted each customer to feel the same joy we do opening new games.
Craddock: I noticed some overlap between your time at Mighty Rabbit and Limited Run Games. What circumstances enabled you to commit yourself full-time to Limited Run Games?
Doug Bogart: Mighty Rabbit Studios is now working on contract work. Limited Run Games actually fully split off from Mighty Rabbit Studios. All the Limited Run employees are fulltime and focused solely on Limited Run now.
Craddock: Limited Run Games offers a large assortment of merch for several game properties. How do you and Josh decide which games to focus on, such as ToeJam & Earl and Chronus Arc?
Doug Bogart: We usually pick games that we are fans of and games our customers would like. A lot of our decisions come based on what genres of games sell well for us or how well known a game is.
Craddock: How do you work out the quantity of a game, as well as materials such as game boxes, covers, etc., to produce? Is that determined by the publishers you work with, or by some means of taking the temperature of a game’s community to find out what they want?
Doug Bogart: We choose quantities based on previous sales and the game's popularity. As far as collector's editions, manuals, cover art go we work with the developer/publisher and see what they would like to do.
Craddock: How did Limited Run Games come to work with John Romero on Sigil?
Doug Bogart: We met John at our local convention here in North Carolina, ECGC a few years ago and we talked briefly about doing something together one day, but nothing really happened after that until his agent reached out to us.
Craddock: Did Romero suggest goods to offer, or did you and Josh handle that?
Doug Bogart: John actually had a wish list for most of the stuff in the box, I think the only things we came up with was imitating the id Anthology box and maybe the statue, but I can't honestly remember, there were a lot of ideas thrown around. John definitely knew what his fans would want though and the sales definitely showed he was right.
Craddock: Romero announced Sigil in December of 2018. How far in advance did you, Josh, and the team at Limited Run Games have to get materials ready ahead of the announcement?
Doug Bogart: We had a lot of the components for the boxes rolling in manufacturing before the sale, but a lot of the promotional images were made pretty close to the sale date.
Craddock: How did Limited Run Games determine how many copies of Sigil’s limited merch to manufacturer? Was that decided in advance of the announcement?
Doug Bogart: We actually had both editions as an open pre-order since we weren't sure what the demand would be for a PC release with a name like John Romero attached to it.
Craddock: What is the general manufacturing for merchandise included in Sigil’s limited edition?
Doug Bogart: We hired a guy named Patrick who worked at one of our local printing partners and he has a "guy" for everything. The component that will take the longest is definitely the statue.
Craddock: I heard from Romero that the manufacturing hit a snag, delaying Sigil from February until April-ish. What was the snag, and how did Limited Run Games go about solving it?
Doug Bogart: There were a couple of things, but honestly, it gave us all time to make sure this product is the best it can be. The snags were more just that we needed more time, nothing was compromised.
Craddock: Doom fans are excited for Sigil because it continues the first game’s tradition of fantastic level design and fast, frantic fun. What has working with John Romero on Sigil meant to you?
Doug Bogart: I'm a massive Doom fan, it was one of the first video games I ever played as a kid. My dad actually taught me how to use MS-DOS at his laboratory in downtown Atlanta. Every computer at his work had a copy of Doom on it, so he would just sit me down at a computer when he worked the night shift and taught me all the cheat codes and secrets in the game.
John Romero is one of the most down-to-earth people you will ever meet. He is a genuine person, very humble despite his legendary status. He can also recall almost any event from his past with the most insane accuracy and detail. We have a lot of mega Doom fans in the office so it was really neat having him here at the office!