News Digest Episode 126
This is a copy of the “script” we used to organise Brainwaves Episode 126. It is not a full transcript but should give you an overview of the news as we reported it. Quotes are in italics.
- Originating in 1978, the Spiel des Jahres has long been considered the pinnacle of boardgame awards. While many others have popped up as the hobby has grown, the Spiel award has always held a special place in our hobby and is coveted by designers and publishers alike.
- Every year a panel of judges sample games that were released in the preceding 12 months in the German language to determine the winner of the prizes.
- Yes that was prizes that I said. For you see the Spiel des Jahres may be the main award but there are also two other accolades. The Kinderspiele des Jahres, or Kids game of the year, and the Kennerspiel des Jahres, often referred to as the Connoisseurs award.
- On the 16th of July, the winners of this year’s awards were announced:
- Mysterium Kids, designed by Antonin Boccara and Yves Hirschfeld, and published by Libellud won the Kinderspiel des Jahres
- Challengers, designed by Johannes Krenner and Markus Slawitscheck, and published by 1 More Time Games and Z-Man Games, won the Kennerspiel des Jahres
- Dorf Romantik, designed by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach, and published by Pegasus Spiele, won the Spiel des Jahres
- There are interviews on the cast with the winners and jury member Martina Fuchs
Upper Deck vs Ravensburger
- Back in episode 123, we reported on the move by Upper Deck to bring a lawsuit against publisher Ravensburger. The suit alleged that Ravensburger was infringing on Upper Deck’s intellectual property by producing the Disney Lorcana game. The game is being designed by Ryan Miller, a former employee of Upper Deck. Upper Deck allege that Lorcana bears some resemblance to a game that Ryan was working on for them before he left.
- The case has now advanced slightly, being move to the California Federal Court.
- Paul Lesko, who is an attorney we have shared information from before, broke down what the new documents meant.
- The case is being moved to a federal court because the defendants are not in the same state as upper deck, so the federal court is where the case should reside.
- Ryan Miller confirms when he worked with Upper Deck, from Dec 2018 to Oct 2020. He began work with Ravenburger in November 2020. Paul points out that this makes clear there was no overlap in his working for the two companies.
- Ravensbuger also filed a declaration from Florian Baldenhofer who is the international category director at Ravensburger North America. In this declaration they state that more than $75000 have been spent in producing Disney Lorcana. This is because that is the minimum that has to be at stake between citizens of different states if the case is to be heard in a federal court.
- On Thursday the 13 of July, Ravensburger issued a formal response to the Upper Deck Lawsuit. In they said the case was based on
- “Baseless claims that are entirely without merit”
- They went onto say
- “Upper Deck claims it would have sought the return of confidential information and/or prevented its employees from communicating with Mr. Miller if it was aware of Mr. Miller’s employment at Ravensburger and the company’s work on a competing TCG. But Upper Deck was aware of Mr. Miller’s employment with Ravensburger and work on Lorcana when the game was announced in September 2022. And despite that awareness, Upper Deck did nothing. Upper Deck cannot now lament that it was damaged by its own inaction.”
- Ravensburger moved to dismiss the case outright and have brought on legal heavyweight Brian Lewis. Lewis was responsible for some of the protections that Magic: The Gathering still enjoys to this day and it is likely the world of Trading Card Games would look very different without him.
- On the 19th of July, Upper Deck responded. In a statement they said:
- “Ravensburger’s attempted dismissal fails to address Upper Deck’s merited lawsuit to protect Upper Deck’s intellectual property. This is a strategic deflection of our core allegations. We will continue to prosecute this case to enforce our rights and to ensure fair play within the gaming community.”
- The motion to dismiss will be heard on August 14th, 2023, after the game launches at Gen Con.
Petersen Games Pallet Peace
- On the last episode of the cast we reported on the trouble that Petersen Games seemed to be in with regards to their Daemon Sultan Kickstarter. They had been asking backers for funding for individual pallets and pledging to get games out as soon as they could to backers. Backers could pay towards the pallet their game was on to get shipped, but some backers were being asked for money even though they had their games. The whole thing is a mess.
- It does seem however that something is going on. Posting in an update to backers that is also public, Petersen Games says:
- We have secured funds from a fan who wishes to remain anonymous which will allow us to fulfill all remaining backer orders for Cthulhu Wars™ Onslaught 4.
- They go onto say that anyone who has contributed to pallets will be getting a refund.
- Further down this update they say this:
- It has been a very turbulent few years at Petersen Games. Everyone has an opinion on everything we’ve said and done, and we’ve certainly made our fair share of mistakes (perhaps more than our fair share!). Fortunately, we anticipate that these years of turbulence are happily coming to an end very soon.
- In addition to securing funding for backer fulfillment, we are penning an agreement that would mean the biggest shift ever to transpire for us.
- Here is all I can say at this moment:
- 1. The news is HUGE.
- 2. The news is ENTIRELY GOOD.
- 3. The news will paint a clearer picture regarding our other outstanding Kickstarter projects, as well as future game releases (and keeping product lines like Cthulhu Wars™ in stock!). It should restore confidence in the future of Petersen Games.
- More news in coming weeks → especially heading into GenCon!
Naylor Games move closer to delivering ITB projects
- Back in episode 119 we had James Naylor on the cast to talk about the recent acquisition of Inside The Box by his company Naylor Games.
- James Naylor, head honcho of Naylor Games, is a patron of the Giant Brain. We thought we should be clear about that before the rest of this update.
- Naylor Games have now put together a Gamefound project to get games to backers. The project is a pledge manager only and is allowing backers of those projects to pledge shipping money to get their games delivered to them.
- To remind listeners when we spoke to James in episode 119 he made it clear that there was stock produced of many of the ITB projects, but that Naylor Games would not be able to absorb the cost of shipping those games.
- The pledge manager allows an individual to see all the games coming to them, and how Naylor games have worked out the shipping.
- At the moment Naylor Games are planning to begin shipping in September and will leave the Pledge Manager open for the next 3 weeks.
- The Spiel des Jahres is not the only award doing the rounds at the moment.
- The Indie Game Developer Network (IGDN) is, in their words:
- an international volunteer trade organization that supports indie game developers creating, publishing, and promoting fantastic games.
- The organisation supports all sorts of different tabletop games as well as Live Action Role PLaying.
- This organisation also has its own awards, which I don’t think we have reported on before. There is a wide range of nominees for the following awards
- Most Innovative
- Best Art
- Best Graphic Design
- Best Rules
- Best Setting
- Game of the Year
- The winners of the award will be announced on the 29th of July.
Hornby buys stake in Warlord Games
- Hornby is a UK company whose main product is model railways. Established in 1901 that company has continued to thrive and had annual sales of 55.11 million GBP in 2023.
- The company announced recently that it has bought a stake in Warlord Games.
- Warlord Games are a company that specialise in historical wargaming miniatures and produce games such as Bolt Action, a World War 2 game, and Hail Caesar, a game set in the early Bronze age. It was founded in 2007 by two former games workshop employees.
- Warlord games has previously collaborated with Horby on a dogfighting, that’s aerial combat, game called Blood Red Skies that could use Airfix models.
- Hornby now owns 25% of Warlord games a stake that amounts to about £1.3 million. This is a minority stake for now, so Hornby don’t have control of the company completely. The option remains for Hornby to increase its holding should it so wish.
Haba in trouble
- As first reported on Austrian board game website Spielweese, Haba, a Germany-based games company that has a focus on children’s games, seems to be in a lot of trouble. Haba, based in Bad Rodach in Upper Franconia, is the largest employer in the Coburg district of Germany.
- Haba has so far not said much about the situation. All that has been publicly announced is that Haba was
- “forced to make massive staff cuts.”
- The cuts were said be to be
- “a slump in sales, especially in the end customer business”.
- As far as we know, on the 11th of July, staff were sent information that of the 2,000 employees, 650 are likely to lose their jobs. The plan seems to be that redundancy and other packages would be negotiated by the middle of August. However, it is not clear who may be affected by these job losses.
- According to Haba’s own figures, sales at the company decreased from 364.2 million Euros in 2019 to 347 million Euros in 2021. Some unofficial sources say that sales continued to decline in 2022 and eventually plummeted at the beginning of this year.
- Suspicions over the company’s health began at the toy fair in Nuremberg at the end of January, when Haba had only four news games available. Then company directory Tim Steffens, who had been in office since June 2019, left the company at the end of March. Shortly after, a new management team, including a granddaughter of the company founder, took over the helm of the Haba Family Group in April. A few days later, Haba announced that the eight locations of the Haba Digitalwerkstatt, a digital learning hub which started in 2016, would be closed.
- Ultimately though, it seems that migrating all brands service to a new, uniform piece of software is to blame for the Haba’s troubles. Around 38% of the company’s sales are direct to end consumers, through web shops and similar channels. While these were really successful previously, the new software removed certain functionality, leading to frustrated customers, who voted with their feet.
FTC warns board game content creators to get their act together
- Coming to us from Boardgamewire it seems that board game content creators are coming under the watchful eye of the Federal Trade Commision.
- The Federal Trade Commission is the United States government agency responsible for consumer protection.
- The organisation has just updated its guidance on endorsements and testimonials in advertising to include online influencers working on social media platforms.
- This guidance makes it clear that folk have to make it clear when they receive free games, payment for advertising or even items like travel and accommodation that could be seen as influencing their opinion.
- Speaking to Boardgamewire an FTC spokesperson said:
- “The FTC Act and the principles underlying the Endorsement Guides apply to game companies and game influencers.
- “If some followers of game influencers don’t expect them to get the games for free and if knowing about the free games would affect the credibility that followers give to the endorsements, then the free games should be disclosed.
- “We have brought cases against companies whose influencers have not disclosed material connections.”
- Jamey Stegmaier, founder of Stonemaier games which publishes Wingspan, said:
- “I’ve noticed more creators in Instagram tagging their content as ‘paid promotion from the publisher’ for games we’ve sent to them.
- “I’d like to see Instagram offer more accurate tags/labels, as there is a literal difference between getting a cardboard box and receiving money to express an opinion, but it will do for now.
- “Up until now I’ve put the impetus on reviewers to be transparent about receiving free review copies, but this is a good reminder and opportunity to take some of the responsibility ourselves.
- “So I’ve added a paragraph about this on our reviewer guidelines and in the template I use when I contact reviewers each month.”
GAMA Diversity Grants
- The Game Manufacturers Association, GAMA is offering grants to those based in the United States or Canada.
- The grants are $1000 and come with mentoring. They are aimed at new board game publishers and retailers from under-represented communities.
- Successful applicants will get a GAMA membership worth $300 and free admission to the next GAMA expo in March 2024 alongside a complimentary hotel stay and $1000 towards the cost of flights.
- GAMA said of the programme:
- “We welcome as broad a range of publishers and retailers into the tabletop community as possible, but there are some key components that applicants should possess.
- “Ideal publisher participants will have an existing title in-market or a late-stage prototype and a strong potential for growth.
- “Ideal retailer participants will have an existing brick & mortar retail store established within the past three years or an online retail business with a strong desire to open a brick & mortar retail store.”
Origins Awards Winners
- At the end of June the Origins Award Winners for 2023 were announced.
- The Origins awards are one of the biggest American awards and is handed out by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, a subsidiary of the Game Manufacturers association.
- There are quite a few categories so we are just going to highlight a couple
- Game of the year: Boop by Smirk & Dagger Games, designed by Scott Brady
- Best Card Game: Scout by Oink Games, designed by Kei Kajino, personal favourite of Iain’s
- Best RPG Core Book/System: Coyote & Crow, published by Coyote & Crow and designed by Connor Alexander.
- There are a whole list of other winners on the site. Congratulations to all of them.
- Discussion: Well most of them. The best review category is a big pile of rubbish. It’s not terrible, it is just very pedestrian. Good criticism, good reviews should be revelatory. They should be written with style and delve into what makes that game truly great. I like the idea behind rewarding good criticism, but this isn’t it.
Cubicle 7 donation
- Cubicle 7, the publishers of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG, have made a large donation to the Children’s Health Foundation.
- The donation was made possible by fans of the company who bought game bundles through the site Humble Bundle.
- The donation was 52,450 euros £45,538, and goes towards supporting sick children and their families in Children’s Health Foundation hospitals and urgent care centres.
- Dominci McDowall, Cubicle 7’s founder and CEO said this;
- “My son receives amazing care from everyone in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, which is supported by the Children’s Health Foundation, and as a family we are so grateful for their efforts in keeping him healthy and well. From the medical staff to the ward cleaners and porters, everyone there has supported us as a family through a very challenging period. I’m delighted to be able to help support their work to help sick children and their families through this donation,”
- Discussion: Always nice to be reminded of the generosity of gamers. Charity auctions are a common feature at conventions.
OliverJobs, Opportunities, and Events
- Airecon, the annual play focused convention in in Harrogate, is expanding its reach once more.
- Having previously announced a new show called Airecon West for Telford in October of this year, the organisation is now launching Airecon Northwest in Manchester on the 8th and 10th of December.
- Tickets are available now, with exhibitors and events to be announced.
- Scott James from Minerva games is running an event called Playfest in London on September the 9th. It will be taking place in the Queen Mary University and is focused on helping designers to playtest their games.
- A 2 hour playtesting slot will cost £10 or if you just want to go along and play it is totally free!
- Playtesters have the opportunity to win games from some of the publishers supporting the event.
- There will also be a digital playtesting talk from Dr Raluca D Gaina who had her students use machine learning to analyse the Pandemic board game.
Metallic Dice Games
Promo Code: ROLLWITHBRAINS
- Tenth edition Warhammer 40k is upon us and with that comes a new meta.
- Why pay attention to that meta though when you can just cheat.
- At a recent tournament an attendee was caught using weighted dice to win turn order roll offs. They were asked to leave the tournament. On their way out they flushed the weighted dice down the toilet and they were later discovered by someone going to use the facilities
Critical Role sell out Wembley
- Before we sign off we just wanted to bring this slightly mind blowing information to your attention. Critical Role, the RPG streaming juggernaut, is attending London MCM Comic Con and hosting a show at OVO Arena Wembley.
- This is a 12500 seat arena that they have sold out.
- Discussion: Just wow.
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