Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gaming: The Fantasy Flight Juggernaut

There are a few big names in the game industry; Wizards of the Coast, Games Workshop, Privateer Press, Rackham Entertainment, Fantasy Flight Games.  Strangely enough, seasons change and systems change, and companies grow or fall, but overall the industry really doesn't move much off true center. 

A few years ago, Wizards of the Coast was high and mighty, Games Workshop was losing money hand over fist, and Fantasy Flight Games was a middling distributor specializing in Board and Card games with few original product offerings of its own.  Now, things have changed.  Wizards of the Coast is flailing about, Games Workshop is strong and profitable, and Fantasy Flight is moving in all sorts of new directions with bold and innovative product lines.

Strangely enough, Fantasy Flight's ascension started with a misstep on the part of Games Workshop's Black Library Press division.  Black Library over-extended itself in the production of the new Roleplaying Game Dark Heresy, and was forced to abandon the ambitious project.  Seeing a potentially lucrative project before them, Fantasy Flight Games snatched up the property and began its own development project to expand Dark Heresy.

After failing at a gamble with the distribution of Rakham's AT-43 and Confrontation lines, Fantasy Flight struck gold with the Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy systems.  In addition to Roleplaying games, Fantasy Flight smashed the boundaries flat with new boardgames like Warhammer Chaos in the Old World and Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy, card games like Warhammer Invasion, Chaos Marauders, and the upcoming Death Angels which is based on the famous Space Hulk board game, and roleplaying games like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying 5th edition, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch, which is getting ready for wide release very soon.

In addition to its massively lucrative Warhammer licensing projects, Fantasy Flight has moved forward on a number of other ambitious projects.  The Eagle and the Lion is a wargaming style of board game similar to the now famous Tannhauser and Dust games that allows you to fight battles between Napoleon and Wellington.  Speaking of Tannhauser, an expansion for that is now in the works.  Constantinopolis is another awesome concept game of city and Empire building.  Meanwhile, pushing the boundaries back into games of the past, Fantasy Flight has also announced the development of games like Dragonheart and Dungeonquest, which will bring even more attention and attraction from the nostalgia market.

The question I have is: Is Fantasy Flight's expansion sustainable, or are they on the path to over-extension?

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