The Week in BG - Unrivaled, KS & KS Again
Some of the highlights from the news this week in the BG world
Last year, the total revenue generated from eSports - competitive videogames, like DOTA2, League and Overwatch that are played primarily by teams, in big arenas to onlooking fans - surpassed $1.5 BILLION. Also last year a company called Unrivaled tried to bring some of that magic to the board gaming world. The series saw players compete in a large spread of games, including Munchkin, Ascension, King of Tokyo, and Nevermore, for a share in a $250,000 total prize. It was an ambitious first attempt, spanning local store tournaments where players would win invites to a grand finals to play for the cash. Unrivaled made a lot of noise about wanting to be bigger and better, and become the new big standard for competitive games.
Unfortunately it seems their plans may have been too ambitious, as before their second event this year, they have had to cancel everything. It seems like the parent company that owned them, Oomba Inc, has essentially run out of money, and Unrivaled took the decision to cancel early and try and make things square with all the suppliers and partners planned for the event.
While possibly an example of trying to force things too quickly, it was nevertheless a noble attempt. I think there is a real scene out there for people to compete in, and spectate, professional board gaming. However, it's taken videogames A LONG time, and a lot of failures from multiple companies, to get to the stage where we are now. Fantasy Flight Games and Wizards are probably the two biggest organisers of tournaments and therefore the closest to emulating a League or Overwatch style championship, but even they both struggle with the fan and spectator side of things. Wizards still haven't really figured out how to properly cast their events on twitch (many cards, tiny text) and FFG tend to rely on partners and fan YouTube channels to cover their X-wing Miniatures and other tournaments.
Hopefully this isn't the end for Unrivaled and they manage to sort out ownership or new funding and try and give it another crack.
In a Facebook post today Monolith Games announced a "new" way they are going to be using Kickstarter going forward. The company is no stranger to Kickstarter, they recently funded the upcoming Batman miniatures game, Gotham City Chronicles, exclusively on Kickstarter, saying in advance they would not be bringing it to retail.
The "new" way they are going to be using KS to takes this a step further however. Essentially, they will already have games designed, created, and shipped to distributing hubs before the KS runs. Once a KS ends, backers will then be able to receive the game within a number of weeks, instead of months to years for usual KS campaigns. Essentially, they're just using KS as an online store front (hence, "new") and taking the crowdfunding out of the equation.
This isn't new, it sounds like they just want to use the hype around KS to get more pre-orders, and not have to bother with their own store front, which will get less traffic than using KS. It seems mega shady to be honest, and doesn't really seem in the spirit of what KS is for. KS themselves disagree though, as they have apparently discussed this and seem completely ok with being used as a store front. Guess they get their % either way. Disappointing all round.
And finally, there's a chance that the world is ending. CMON have announced their upcoming Board/Miniatures skirmish game IS NOT coming to Kickstarter. Surely one of the signs of the end times, the board game adaptation of the comic and movie series Kick-Ass, is eschewing the crowdfunding route as CMON believe they could not do justice to a full Kickstarter campaign, and will instead go straight to retail. Which means the box you see on the shelf will actually be the full game, and you won't be missing any pesky stretch goals or KS exclusive models.
It's almost like they can afford to make games without raising millions of dollars of crowd funding for each one...