Investors Give No Quarter to Convert-or-Die Video Game
jhutson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Mar 22, 2007 at 05:22:03 AM EST

When Left Behind Games launched its convert-or-die videogame Left Behind: Eternal Forces on November 7, 2006, its stock traded at a peak price of $7.44 per share. Breathless boosters at RedChip issued a "strong buy" recommendation and predicted that within 18 months, the stock would soar to as much as $18.70 per share. Really?

In fact, Left Behind Games' stock chart looks like a ski slope. Not a gentle bunny hill, but a World Cup grand slalom course, groomed for a world-beating downhill run. Today, you could buy a share of Left Behind Games for a quarter -- with change left over. On March 21, 2007, the stock closed at 18 cents a share.

Left Behind Games has sunk more than $27 million and four years into the development and marketing of a game that has been critically panned by gamer blogs, who sneer at its bugginess and built-in spyware, and was boycotted by members of its target audience.

Although game sales have brought in some revenue, the stock has yet to earn a dime of profit, according to the latest quarterly report of Left Behind Games, filed on February 20, 2007. And, according to the quarterly report, "As of December 31, 2006... we had $698,763... of deferred salaries due to our officers." Moreover, in December 2006 and January 2007, a corporate officer made two interest-free loans, totaling $23,000, to help the enterprise with "working capital."

And the road ahead looks even bumpier. For example, the firm is obligated to pay Bible publisher Tyndale House, by March 31, 2007, a hefty $750,000 royalty payment for licensing the game, which is based on the best-selling and profoundly bigoted Left Behind novels co-authored by Southern Baptist minister Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

These concerns are summarized, in wonky accounting language, in the firm's Going Concern statement, found on page 21 of its quarterly report:

As of the three months ended December 31, 2006, we have started to generate revenue, and through December 31, 2006 have incurred net losses of $31,157,019 and had negative cash flows from operations of $6,383,394 since our inception through December 31, 2006. Our ability to continue as a going concern is dependent upon out ability to generate profitable operations in the future and/or to obtain the necessary financing to meet our obligations and repay our liabilities arising from normal business operations when they come due. We plan to continue to provide for our capital requirements by issuing additional equity. No assurance can be given that additional capital will be available when required or on terms acceptable to us. We also cannot give assurance that we will achieve significant revenues in the future. The outcome of these matters cannot be predicted at this time and there are no assurances that if achieved, we will have sufficient funds to execute our business plan or to generate positive operating results.

Our independent registered public accounting firm has previously indicated in its report included with the Form 10-KSB filed in June 2006 that these matters, among others, raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.

How have the mighty fallen?

One thing's for sure, spouts Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon: It wasn't the fault of Talk to Action for breaking the story of the convert-or-die theology behind this videogame.

Mr. Lyndon has publicly proclaimed that the controversy has spurred sales of the game. The controversy, Mr. Lyndon boasted to the Los Angeles Times, "has been great for the product."

So, if Mr. Lyndon is to be believed, if it hadn't been for the consumer boycott first called for by Talk to Action, and organized by CrossWalk America, the Beatitudes Society, Christian Alliance for Progress, The Center for Progressive Christianity, and Campaign to Defend the Constitution (DefCon), then the company would have sold far fewer copies of its sole product.

Yet Mr. Lyndon has not expressed gratitude (not a crumb) to these bloggers and faith communities, to whom he claims to owe so much.

While Talk to Action was the first to call for a consumer boycott of the product -- not because of the level of violence, but because it makes a children's game of hate literature -- no one has called for the game to be censored. Rather, this blog and others, joined by both progressive and conservative faith communities, have asked consumers to reflect on whether they really want to buy a buggy, spyware-laden videogame that teaches mass killing in the name of Christ, and that also lets children switch sides and command the armies of the AntiChrist, unleashing demons that feast on the bones of conservative Christians. (Wait: before you say, That sounds like fun!, just know that the game is programmed so that the AntiChrist can never win.)

If Left Behind Games fails, it won't be because the stock price got blogged down. It will be because they made a crappy, hate-filled product that managed to offend its two target audiences: Rapture-ready Moms and hardcore gamers. As SapphireGrl wrote on, ""Where in the Word does it say to 'kill the infidels'? Where are we told to kill anyone that won't convert? Jesus said to shake the dust from your feet, not to mow them down with automatic weapons!" And as Gameinatrix Cori wrote in a smash-mouth review by a gamer who had really wanted to like the game but found that it stank out loud: "Let's just leave this behind us and never speak of it again."

Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon told the Los Angeles Times that he credits the controversy with spurring sales of his product. The controversy, he claims, "has been great for the product."

And if Mr. Lyndon is to be believed, if it weren't for bloggers, game reviewers, and faith communities drawing attention to the game, then Left Behind Games would have sold far fewer copies of its sole product.

Yet Mr. Lyndon has yet to express his gratitude.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of brotherhood, Mr. Lyndon, you're welcome.

by jhutson on Thu Mar 22, 2007 at 06:23:16 AM EST

It might soon be possible to pull off a hostile takeover for the cost of a large Starbucks latte.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Mar 22, 2007 at 08:41:16 AM EST

from Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, Concerned Women and Jay Sekulow must have really backfired.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Mar 22, 2007 at 02:32:58 PM EST

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