Fantasy Flight Games and Asmodee Digital have announced they are teaming up to create Fantasy Flight Interactive. The full press release can be found at the bottom of this post, but let's take a look at what this might mean.
To start, some background on Fantasy Flight Games. They are among the giants of board game publishers. There are a number of reasons for this, but having the rights to some heavyweight I.P. certainly helps their cause. They are the publishers of extremely popular Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings games. On top of some money-printing IPs, they also release Android: Netrunner which is one of the most successful Living Card Games out there, and a group of games under the Arkham Horror umbrella, including Arkham Horror, Arkham Horror The Card Game, and Eldrich Horror, among others. FFG titles are famous for the amount of expansions they receive. This is inevitable for the various card games they release, but many of their board games also have frequent expansions. FFG undeniably has some of the most popular game series and IP in the business, so any foray into the digital world is worth getting excited about.
As for Asmodee Digital, well, if you've found your way to this site, you should know all about them. Check out our review database to see how many of their games we have reviewed. They produce quality ports on a regular basis, either as a developer or as a publisher, the quality of the games under their name is a constant.
What Do We Know?
Not a whole lot, unfortunately. The press release was mostly short on any real details. It named a few names of people involved and went through the motions of explaining how excited everybody is about the situation. For specifics, the release does mention "build[ing] from the ground up for Steam." This is somewhat discouraging for mobile fans, but it is hard to say with certainty at this point that none of these games will be coming to iOS or Android. We simply don't know, but the wording is somewhat concerning. The other big takeaway is that the press release mentions a few times that they will not simply be focused on adapting existing board games for digital consumption. They don't rule out that they will make ports, but they also appear set on creating new games within their existing properties. While many people will be hoping for ____________ to get an immediate port to digital, it sounds like FF Interactive will also be spending considerable time creating new games along the way.
What Do We Hope?
Now, the fun part, letting our imagination run wild! There are so many amazing games, and properties, within the FFG portfolio that we could spend a long time drooling over every possibility, we'll try not to do that. Instead, a few we would especially love to see, limiting it to one per game property:
Android: Netrunner: The insanely popular LCG would make a fascinating port to the digital world. How would they price the expansions? Would people drop large amounts of money into the game if they made everything available? Would anybody play another game on their phone if they could play Netrunner 24/7?
Star Wars Imperial Assault: This is practically a video game already, right? Campaigns played out over missions which allow you to gain experience to increase your skills. Epic fights, great heroes, etc... With so many loud complaints about the quality of the actual Star Wars branded video games lately, there would likely be a huge market for a digital version of Imperial Assault.
Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: This is another LCG with many, many expansions. Like Netrunner, it would be fascinating to see how they priced this game and the expansions. So many people love LotR, and this game is a lot of fun as a co-op card game, it is hard to see a digital port of this not taking off.
Arkham Horror: Elder Sign already has a digital port and it's quite good. Arkham Horror would likely work well too based on the game, Eldritch Horror would also be high on our list of ports we'd love to see. I would have picked The Card Game here, but three LGCs felt like overkill.
Others: Less you think every major title from FFG falls under an IP umbrella, their list of standalone titles is also extremely impressive. Just a few: Twilight Imperium, Cosmic Encounter, Mission: Red Planet, Letters from Whitechapel, Fallout, Doom, and of course Civilization the Board Game, which opens itself up for the chance at Civilization: The Board Game: Video Game Version.
What Do We Expect?
That was fun, but what do we think might actually happen? Less fun, of course, but still promising. Just in case you think we're plugged in on this situation, we aren't, you will only find wild speculation below, nothing grounded in any actual information. We suspect they have been working on their first title and we'll hear about it soon. We expect the new, digital-exclusive games will outnumber the ports. We expect that none of the LCGs will actually make their way to your phone (sorry, it doesn't seem like a sound financial decision unless the board game version is dying.) We don't expect to see any Star Wars or Lord of the Rings games, as that seems like a licensing no-no given other companies are actively making video games for those brands. We do expect they will port a few games over and feel out the market for that versus original titles. We expect they will likely take their ports to mobile platforms, but probably not the new original games, which we suspect will more closely resemble traditional video games rather than board game ports.
We look forward to being proven wrong on most of our predictions, but that's okay. Mostly, we're looking forward to seeing what comes from FFI. Check out the full press release below and then start your own wild speculations.
Full Press Release
MADISON, Wisconsin – Oct. 24, 2017 – Fantasy Flight Games and Asmodee North America today announced the newest addition to the global board game publisher’s digital arsenal: Fantasy Flight Interactive. Focused on not just adapting tabletop games, but creating fresh, new digital experiences based on Fantasy Flight Games’ beloved brands, Fantasy Flight Interactive is a new development studio with projects already in the works for Steam and other platforms to follow.
“We didn’t create a new company just to translate board games into digital games. We’re focused on the bigger picture of the experiences our fans can have on new platforms, and this will take our brands in new directions,” said Christian T. Petersen, Founder of Fantasy Flight Games and CEO of Asmodee North America.
Fantasy Flight Games will continue to develop hybrid digital board games, while Fantasy Flight Interactive focuses on more expansive video game projects. Fans can anticipate richly strategic experiences with easy-to-understand UI, built from the ground up for Steam. Asmodee Digital will serve as publisher for all of Fantasy Flight Interactive’s games.
Much like Asmodee Digital for Asmodee’s properties, Fantasy Flight Interactive is translating the development and design sensibilities of Fantasy Flight Games for the digital realm. Fantasy Flight’s philosophies, like smartly designed, carefully curated play experiences will be adapted for digital gaming, with the same emphasis on fun, balance and polish.
Headed by video game industry veteran Tim Gerritsen, the Fantasy Flight Interactive team combines a wealth of both board game and digital gaming expertise to bring the best of both worlds to players. Gerritsen has over 25 years experience working on video games like BioShock Infinite, Prey and Rune, as the former Studio Director of Irrational Games, and CEO of Human Head Studios.
“We’re incredibly excited to be bringing Fantasy Flight Games’ best game properties to life as amazing video game experiences,” said Tim Gerritsen, head of Fantasy Flight Interactive. “Fantasy Flight Interactive is made up of developers who love both tabletop games and video games and we are striving to create games that capture the best aspects of both media to entertain our fans.”
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, Fantasy Flight Interactive is part of a growing midwestern tech and game development hub. The nontraditional headquarters is fitting for a studio with a fresh, nontraditional mindset.