This has probably already been posted somewhere on BGG, but for those who haven't had an opportunity to see and would like an update as to what's happening with Fantasy Flight Games:
1/22 - Chris
An open letter from the CEO of FFG
If you are a regular reader of rants, hopefully you have been pleasantly surprised by the recent surge in relevant rant updates in recent weeks. In the past few years, as FFG has worked hard to create great games, we have not been able to place as much emphasis on the "rants” page as it has deserved. As we enter 2006, I am happy to announce that we intend to once again make the "rants" section a meaningful and fun area of our website.
In this era of "Blogs" I feel a sense of pride that FFG started our "rants" back in 1999, years before online journals became a phenomenon. In its first few years, it was a powerful tool and one of the most visited areas of our website. As FFG became increasingly busy, however, ranting became less frequent than we would have liked and the subject of the rants started to deviate from the original intention of this section – to provide a relevant, fun insight into the life of a games company, and as an outlet to provide previews and sneak-peeks at upcoming products.
With this letter. I am excited to announce that FFG's attention to rants will returned in earnest, and that hopefully this place will be both informative, exciting, and a fun place for you to visit daily.
As the CEO and grand poobah of FFG, to underscore the "return of the rants", I will begin to use this place as my soapbox from which I shall deliver the FFG public statements and announcements. To kick this off, here is a summary of 2005 and a small preview of our 2006 plans.
2005. Hills and Valleys.
In all senses of the word, FFG had an interesting year in 2005. For me personally, it was both one of the most rewarding yet also one of the most challenging years in our history. After a tremendous year of growth in 2004, we entered 2005 with an even bigger bang as the third edition of Twilight Imperium shipped in late January. In addition, at that time, we had just secured the board-game rights to a brand new computer game called World of Warcraft (which lo-and-behold would grow to become the most successful computer game of all time). With the growth of the previous year, and with the very powerful collection of releases we would present at the GAMA trade show in March, FFG faced numerous challenges, a year of rapid growth, and increase in manufacturing complexity.
A primary challenge before us at the start of 2005 was that of implementing an infrastructure that would serve both the business and the development side of our company. We needed to grow our infrastructure in a sound way that would serve our employees, products, and customers in the best way possible. Not only were additional resources required in the communications, sales, and operations side of the business, we also strongly desired to continue our positive trajectory in the development and production side of the business, where we ever strive to make better games with better materials, better graphics, and better gameplay.
To catch up to the growth that we had already faced in the prior year, and to have sufficient resources to meet our schedule for 2005, FFG needed to hire additional people, expand our office space (thankfully, we had expanded our warehouse space significantly in late 2004 before the arrival of DOOM and TI3) as well as our communications tools . To this end FFG hired 11 additional employees in the first half of 2005 (largely for entirely new positions), expanded our offices by 30% (we had already expanded by 25% in 2004), and acquired a new T1 line and matching phone-system (as we had been surviving on two voice and one fax line for 9 years, it was quite a leap to suddenly have fancy voice-mail and extensions).
As all this complex work was being done, summer began to rear its head and FFG started to face some of its greatest challenges in development and production manufacturing in its history. On the production side, starting in May, there seemed to be nothing but a continuous stream of bad news. On almost every product in the pipeline, there seemed to be problems from virtually every single one of our numerous manufacturing partners. These issues, along with longer-than-expected development and testing period, caused numerous delays in production over which FFG had little, to no, control. Products that were scheduled for May were being shipped to us in late October, several games such as Marvel Heroes, Battles of the Third Age, Warrior Knights, Britannia, and Fury of Dracula, among others, suffered great set-backs, causing them to be moved out of 2005 entirely (to be published in 2006). Other games did see a 2006 release, but most at very late dates. Our CCG players, for example, were as dismayed as we were, when our much-anticipated A Game of Thrones: Winter Edition did not make it for its GEN CON release.
Many of our customers (including many reading this very letter) were understandably frustrated over such delays. Needless to say, FFG regrets such delays more than anyone, as financial planning and marketing becomes extremely challenging in an environment where product release timing is so uncertain. Additionally, as we had embarked on a dramatic expansion in the first half of the year, the disruption and delay of product flow was, of course, especially problematic to us.
Yet things slowly became better. As the fourth quarter rolled around, many of our products finally did start to come in, and our development and manufacturing pipeline was stable once more. Due to the lengthy manufacturing process, however, the customer will still feeling the ripples of our Summer 2005 production malaise, as games such as Fury of Dracula and Britannia (and others) have still not shipped to the market at this point.
Yet despite the investment and attention spent to improve our infrastructure, and despite the severe production difficulties faced; the last few months of the year were hugely successful for our company, making 2005 a record year for FFG.
FFG's staff expansion in its development and production departments, as well as a coordinated program to diversify our game manufacturing base, should hopefully make us far less vulnerable to the problems of individual vendors going forward. Due to the complexities and uncertainties of production, development, and logistics, we will never be able to avoid having a few products that face delays, yet I am confident that our production staff, developers, and network of manufactures will allow FFG to dramatically improve its release timing in 2006.
FFG's planned releases in the first part of 2006 will already be known to many of you (especially since many of these were originally planned for 2005). Our other new releases for 2006 will be revealed simultaneously at the GAMA trade-show, and right here on the rant page on Tuesday, March 14th. We have some very exciting new product announcements so please consider visting us here on that day.
In general, without going into specifics, here is what FFG plans in our various product categories.
Collectible Card Games
FFG is currently hiring additional people for our collectibles department so that we can serve our loyal CCG audiences more appropriately. We have big plans to reinvigorate our CCG’s by initiating programs that will attract new players, as well as promote and facilitate other events that should give established players a reason to be excited about their CCG. As soon as the expanded CCG staff is in place, look for some cool announcements in this area.
We look forward to releasing the next base-set for A Game of Thrones at its customary place at GEN CON this August, and we hope (but we do not know, so don't ask us) that A Dance for Dragons, the next installment in George RR Martin's wonderful series of novels, will be released in good time.
Role Playing Games
Due to a crippling overall softness in this market, FFG has ceased additional publication of most of its role-playing lines. We will, however, continue to support our strong and wonderful Midnight role-playing-game (d20). We have three new supplements for the Midnight RPG planned in 2006 (the first, Legends of Shadow should hit the shelves in March), we have a Midnight expansion for our Runebound board game also releasing in March, and have some other very big Midnight news waiting in the wings that should excite Midnight audiences a great deal. In addition to supporting Midnight, we plan to release the much-delayed Grimm role-playing game this spring.
In the first part of the year, our board game customers should see a very exciting number of releases with a reprint of the popular Scarab Lords, and new game releases of Britannia, Fury of Dracula, and the Runebound: Midnight expansion. In early summer, we have announced the Dunwich Horror expansion for our popular Arkham Horror game, and 2006 will also see expansion games for Descent: Journeys in the Dark, World of Warcraft, Runebound, Twilight Imperium, and others. Silver Line fans should be happy to hear that Drakon, Cave Troll, and Mag Blast will see new editions in 2006. Warrior Knights should be available in April, and War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age should arrive in March. Our partner, Nexus Entertainment, hope to have Marvel ready for a June release.
We have many other new board game releases of course, including additional releases in FFG's "Epic Box" format (such as seen with TI3 and WOW), but you will need to wait for March 14th for more specific information on these products.
One of FFG biggest products of 2006 (scheduled for release this fall), does not even fit into any of the above categories, again look for this announcement in March. Also, FFG will be releasing our first novel in the fall, and we will follow up our successful "The Art of Ice and Fire" art book with additional products in the same category. Finally, FFG will be publishing several calendars (for 2007, of course) that will be available towards the end of the year.
In addition to new products, we hope to continually add new features, services, and excellent content to our website and our convention appearances. I invite you to join us in our adventurous journey through 2006.
Finally, as part of the rejuvenation of the rants page, I pledge to continue the "Company History", moving forward from where I left it a few years ago. Look for such “serial rant” installments from me on a monthly basis, and catch up on the previous installments that have been compiled here.
Finally, thank for your patronage, loyalty, and helpful suggestions in 2006. Without you, our valuable customer, we would not have been able to craft our gaming dreams. I hope to see you at the gaming table in 2006.
Christian T. Petersen
Fantasy Flight Games
They need an RSS feed on it if they want people to follow it like a blog.
In this era of "Blogs" I feel a sense of pride that FFG started our "rants" back in 1999, years before online journals became a phenomenon.
I think these guys were a bit better about preceeding blogs:
- Last edited Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:03 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:02 pm