Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wizards of the Coast: Say Goodbye to Star Wars

Now this is crappy news. I just bought a bunch of Star Wars minis and then this happens. WotC is dropping the Star Wars miniatures and role playing games, due to the "economic downturn". I get that sales may not have been what they hoped--but I know of quite a few collectors/gamers out there who love the game. I'm more of a collector than player at this point, but I'd just purchased about a dozen singles and was looking at some booster sets of more nondescript characters that would fit well with a Star Frontiers/X-plorers game setting. (An image gallery of those purchases was to appear on this blog.)

It's like West End Games all over again!
I'll say that I feel more like there were nearly TOO many books, supplements, and booster sets and not enough accessories to help support the game. There was only one Galaxy Tile set (i.e., Dungeon Tiles for Star Wars) released and frankly I'm not sure that Wizards did enough to link the minis to the RPG version of the game--which may have helped keep them both more prescient with the role players.

Wizards also didn't do anything to revise the mini booster sets as far as quantity and price like they did with the D&D minis. One would think they should have tried to redo their merchandising before cutting an entire license. There's speculation at the moment that another company would pick up the license, but that's likely never going to happen as there isn't another mini company with the resources that Hasbro/WotC has in place to handle a license this size. Also, Hasbro has a history of going after perceived competitors, like when it sued the Lego company over their mini figures a few years back. 

With all this said, my personal preference would have been to suspend the line, or pull back to just core books and one or two mini sets a year. But I guess, once you've pigged out at the buffet, it's hard to go on a diet.

Time will tell if the license will rebound to support a game system again. Until then, I'll be buying up the ones I need off ebay, et. al.

Update: The trading/collectible card games are also on the chopping block, as the license extends to all Star Wars properties produced by Wizards of the Coast.

Update: Hasbro (of which Wizards is a subsidiary, as we all know) is coming out with stat cards and dice for their 3.75" action figures. As the picture below from this weeks' Toy Fair in NYC illustrates, it looks as though they're turning the toys into a game. A neat concept--no where near an RPG--but still cool if you're a kid or a toy collector. Call it "the Yu-Gi-Oh-fying of Star Wars" but all in all it's an interesting way to play with the toys, even if it's a total bummer for the RPG and minis game.
Huge props to Rebelscum for their hard work at Toy Fair to get images and send in reports!


  1. Hasbro taking on WotC and it's concerns has always been a portent of doom for me. A big company like Hasbro is going to HAVE to make money on stuff or run the risk of pissing off its shareholders.

    Gaming has never been a very big money generator (at least in a purely business context) unless you resort to tactics like those of GW (no condemnation, just observation).

    Maybe we'll get lucky and find out that Lucas has some other outlet for RPG materials planned?

  2. Maybe we'll get lucky and find out that Lucas has some other outlet for RPG materials planned?

    I hope you're right, but my gut tells me that Lucas--who is one to perpetually look "ahead"--feels there's better opportunities in video games for SW. While that's not a false thought, it's one of limited perspective.

  3. "Lucas--who is one to perpetually look "ahead"--feels there's better opportunities in video games for SW."

    But aren't the video game rights a wholly different animal than the tabletop RPG rights, Jay?

  4. Yes! Sorry, I should have clarified--I think Lucas doesn't see much of a future or use in supporting table top games. The way it sounds from the word on the street is that Lucas wanted more $$$ in the licensing agreement based on the success of the Clone Wars cartoon. It's been proposed that this could be a legitimate (albeit impossible) demand for WotC to meet--and possibly an intentional move. I just meant that his views on technology have always been to 'move forward' and he may just feel that video games are where it's , so that's where they'll devote their efforts. And I don't doubt that the economy played a part in all of this as well.

    Still, another bit of info has come to light: I just heard that Hasbro's 3.75" action figure line might be getting stat-like cards for "gaming", which would effectively turn the toys into a form of RPG. This would allow Hasbro/WotC to keep some sort of game offering in the market while merging two or three of their audiences (kids, collectors, and gamers).

    If true, it will be an interesting concept to say the least. They'd had limited success in the past with Attactix, which was a goofier(!) version of game figures with action features. But this would turn out to be a more streamlined approach....

  5. They toys-as-figs idea could work. I guess it depends on how much R&D they're willing to devote to it. Interesting stuff, man!