I got the news Monday evening. Fellow Star Wars RPG freelancer Robert Wieland sent a message that Mongoose Publishing had posted on their company blog that they did not win the Star Wars RPG license, but that someone else had. A company known to do RPGs and card games, but not minis, and the license included all three types of games. I posted it to both my personal and fan pages on Facebook. This morning, gaming mega forum ENWorld splashed the news on their main page, and rpg.net had long before started their own obligatory rumor and speculation thread.
We are now well into the speculation phase, as everyone tries to take the info available from Mongoose and pair it with game companies matching that criteria. A few companies have denied obtaining the license, at least unoffically, including Piazo and White Wolf. In the coming days, others may do so. I would be surprised if the winning company (assuming there is one) admits it just to quell a rumor. They're better off waiting and announcing it in their own time.
Fantasy Flight has been talked about a lot (and one of the first to come to my mind as well). Cubicle 7 and Margaret Weis Productions are heavy licensees, but also highly involved in their current lines. Others are routinely suggested and assessed. The Star Wars license is not a cheap one, and few small game companies can afford it. Some on the forums have also pointed out that the original post could even be a ploy by Mongoose for publicity, but I have no personal or professional contacts with them, and therefore no basis for opinion.
I've talked about the challenges of taking on the Star Wars license before. It is an ever increasing niche (Star Wars) of a niche (RPGs/Minis). There are only so many interested players, and a significant number are already playing systems they like from d6, d20, Saga or their own/adapted system. So, the existing player base is already splintered. Convincing the them to purchase books again will be challenging at best.
There are possibilities, however:
- A compelling system is a must, preferably one that matches the speed and cinematic nature of the movies.
- Targeting the Clone Wars audience - especially kids - could be a way to get the game into the hands of younger players, always a plus for the industry. There's a balancing act here, as some older players still regard the series as a kids show. If you're one of them, you should check out how it is developing.
- Tap into the graphical nature and design of some of the other Star Wars products, like the new blueprints books or the various visual guides.
- Include as much universe info as possible.
- Look at more than just books. Consider box sets and package deals.
- Better integration between the minis and rpg lines. If simplicity is the goal in the RPG, consider making the minis system the advanced combat rules.
I've fielded a few questions regarding my interest in working on a future edition. Generally speaking, yes, I'm willing to talk about it, should the opportunity arise. I've already worked on and been published in every edition so far (though the 1st WEG edition was technically unofficial, a Polyhedron/RPGA adventure).
It will be interesting to see how this develops.