Friday, May 31, 2013

Pathfinder vs D&D

Interesting to see the change in production schedules for Pathfinder products vs. D&D supplements as it relates to the relative popularity of both games. Today we received four new supplements for Pathfinder, all official and all from Paizo. We have not received or been solicited for a new D&D supplement in a couple of months, likely because of the focus on D&D Next.

The question becomes: Is the D&D brand strong enough to over come the amount of headway it has given to Pathfinder? I would bet we will see an enormous amount of interest in D&D Next at the outset, but bet it will prove hard to pull players away from Pathfinder, unless WOTC comes out with a strong Organized Play program out of the gate. While D&D Encounters is good for what it is, what it isn't is a good OP program, on the order of Pathfinder Society or the old Living camapgins.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More on Dueling D and D Movies

Hasbro/WOTC has filed suit against Sweetpea Productions to stop it from proceeding with a D&D movie in conjunction with Warner Brothers.  SweetPea is the Courtney Solomon production company that produced the original 2000 D&D movie and two television sequels in 2005 and 2012.  WOTC's lawsuit argues that the original 1994 contract between it and Sweetpea required a theatrical release within 7 years after the release of the original movie and that a television release did not satisfy that requirement sufficiently to reset the rights.

TSR, the previous owner of the rights before acquisition by WOTC, had sued Sweetpea in 1998 over non-production of a D&D film but the two companies settled the lawsuit out of court, leading to the 2000 production.  However, at the time, no other company had shown interest in making a D&D movie.  Not the case here, so doubtful this will get settled quickly.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Helvault vs. Implicit Maze

I got to ruminating about why Dragon’s Maze pulled in significantly fewer players than did last year’s Avacyn Restored pre-releases, even though Magic sales have increased significantly since Avacyn Restored, then it hit me, so I hit myself, right smack across the forehead.   Avacyn Restored, Helvault, duh!  Remember the Helvault and the hype surrounding its opening last year?  Even the trending hashtag on Twitter #IntheHelvault?  This year, the release had the Implicit Maze, with the winning players getting a badge on their Planeswalker page. Nowise as cool, or intriguing, as the opportunity to see what lurked inside the Helvault last year.  Curiosity is a major driver of human behavior, just as it is with cats and mice, so if you can keep parts of your event secret, and customers/players know that parts of it are secret, they will come to it out of curiosity.  WOTC made all of the details of the Implicit Maze available ahead of time (of course, in fairness, the company had to in order to make sure that tournament organizers knew how to run the event), ergo players were not as intrigued by it as by the Helvault so numbers dropped a bit.

Friday, May 10, 2013

D&D Movie(s)

Looks as if two D&D movies may head into production, or more likely into court to determine who has the rights to them.  Warner Brothers announced Tuesday that it has acquired the rights to make yet another D&D movie and has moved fairly far along on it, prior to the announcement, with a script by the writer of last year's remake of Wrath of the Titans, David Leslie Johnson.  Apparently Johnson based his original script on E. Gary Gygax's original Chainmail game.  Warner's bought the script and has had him rewrite it to better fit the Dungeons & Dragons property.

Not so fast, says Hasbro, which publishes the D&D game through its WOTC division.  Hasbro claims movie rights to Dungeons & Dragons and has announced its own D&D movie as a vehicle for first time director (and writer of the last 5 Fast and the Furious movies) Chris Morgan in conjunction with Universal Studios.

However, Warner Brothers has an ace in the hole in that the studio has Courtney Solomon as one of the producers on its version of the movie.  Why is he important?  Solomon directed the 2000 Dungeons & Dragons movie and, at the time, according to both his and Warner's lawyers, acquired indefinite rights to the Dungeons & Dragons name, with no rights reversion clause.  This means Hasbro can make movies set in the Dragonlance world or the Forgotten Realms, but is on shaky legal ground should it want to make a "Dungeons & Dragons" movie.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Marvel Super Heroes RPG

You may have heard the announcement that Margaret Weis Productions lost/gave up the license for the Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game.  It appears that sales of books in the line did not justify continuation of the licensing agreement.  According to MWP, sales of Civil War, the final supplement in the line, were decent but not large enough to justify renewing the license.  Fortunately for Disney and Marvel, movies based upon Marvel characters have proven extremely successful, thus allowing the companies to  ask for ever increasing licensing fees from companies.  Unfortunately, most RPG companies, due to the fact that RPGs are not particularly lucrative, do not have large enough amounts of capital available to purchase/renew such a license, especially when sales have not justified it.

Firefly may prove a better license as it costs much less but still has a core group of devoted fans.. MWP has announced a Firefly RPG for laster this year, based on the series, unlike their Serenity RPG of a few years ago, based on the movie.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What in the Sam Hill WizKids?

In case you missed it, WOCT had a big release of their new set, Dargon's Maze, this week, Friday to be specific.  This meant we had a pre-release last weekend.  Both are capital and labor intensive, meaning, especially if a store used COD, it had quite a bit of capital tied up in both events and likely had a lot of personnel involved with them too.

So what does NECA/WizKids do? Release not one, but two new sets, one just before the Dragon's Maze pre-release and one just before the Dragon's Maze release.  A store only has so many resources to develop to promoting a new product and an event, so when multiple events occur so closely together, something has to give and in this case it was the new WizKids release.