From Table to Digital – The Birth of Fantasy Flight Interactive
Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) has been tearing up the tabletop industry over the past few years. While the company already had some major hits with games games like Descent and Arkham Horrors, they really broke out when they gained the rights to make Star Wars games. This began with the minis game, X-Wing, which is now one of the most successful of it’s genre on the market. They further expanded this into epic ship battles with Armada, campaign skirmishing in Rebel Assault will soon be adding large scale ground assault battles in Legion. But Fantasy Flight Games isn’t stopping there.
Earlier this week, they announced the creation of a digital studio, Fantasy Flight Interactive (FFI). Through this, they would begin to transition many of their intellectual properties beyond the scope of tabletop gaming and onto PC’s, tablets and potentially other devices.
Given their current success in the tabletop industry, this is a huge deal. Board, Card and other tabletop games have been on the rise lately. Some good examples of this are Armello (League of Geeks), Gremlins, Inc (Yukitama Creative Industries), and Faeria (Abrakam SA). This is genre ripe for a massive breakthrough, and FFI has all they need to make this happen.
Consider the possibilities this could lead to. X-Wing, for example is currently the top selling mini’s game on the market. In this, players assume the role of a faction and build a squadron of star fighters to do battle with. There are objectives that can be added, but at it’s core it is about ship to ship combat. Famous pilots like Luke Skywalker or Soontir Fel are restricted to the ships they are known to fly, and all ships, regardless of the pilot have the same stats. The pilot only adds special abilities and better turn initiative.
Turning this into a digital property could be both simple and profitable. They could launch it as a free to play with a small base set. From there, players could compete to earn points or use real currency to buy booster packs with new pilots or upgrade cards. They could also purchase new ships or bundles. They could even create customized skins to make your own fleet. As a digital game, players could build and save custom squads, making it easier to find matches and play. This could easily build into an esport as well.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. With games like Descent, Arkham Horrors or Imperial Assault, players could log in and play a coop campaign against an AI. Here they could work towards objectives and try to survive and progress through a story. This could make a fun multiplayer story driven experience, or just allow them to build skirmish squads and duke it out. With Legion, they could compete even further with Games Workshop and their Warhammer franchise. This would be an attack against them on both fronts. With a franchise like Star Wars, that could be very profitable if done correctly.
Each of these could use tried and true business models. Campaign games could start with relatively priced core set games, complete with online features and scaling AI’s. This could be expanded with new story quests, scenarios, characters and maps. Armada could use a similar model to X-wing, using bundles, ships and boosters. They could even dip into other IP’s to create core and expanded content with those titles, too.
Fantasy Flight Interactive plans to eventually develop other IP’s as well. Regardless of what they do, this will allow the company to expand in ways they couldn’t before. They already have a lot of material to start building with, and plenty of players who would be eager to play their titles. While these look to be launching on PC and mobile devices, they could also find suitable ways to bring it to consoles as well. For board gamers who can’t get together with friends often, this is an awesome alternative; and for video gamers who want to have a solid board game experience, FFI can be exactly what they are looking for. Either way, the gaming industry has a lot to look forward to in the next few years, and Fantasy Flight will be a welcome addition to the digital genre.