Games Industry News Roundup- June 4th, 2024

Here at Goonhammer, we know that it’s hard to keep track of all the news happening all the time in the games industry. So much is always going on with games of all sorts, and their related media, it can be a real blink-and-you’ll miss it situation. 

That’s why every week, we round up five of the biggest stories in the gaming sphere from the past week in the Games Industry News Roundup. Our trusty news boy, Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson, is here with the scoops.

Steamforged Games Acquires the Warmachine IP

Credit: Steamforged Games

The UK-based Steamforged Games made a surprising announcement on Monday that they acquired the Warmachine IP from Privateer Press, as well as the P3 Paint Line, Iron Kingdoms RPG, and all the other games associated with Warmachine.

Privateer Press provided some further details about the acquisition in their own blog post. In it, Privateer Press says that it will work with Steamforged Games on the development of Warmachine and the products associated with it, while being able to leverage the production capabilities of the larger Steamforged Games.

“This is a perfect, logical fit for us. Almost every aspect of Steamforged’s history can be traced back to Warmachine in some way or another.” writes Steamforged CEO Rich Loxam, “Both Mat Hart and I are Warmachine players, and Warmachine was actually a key inspiration for us creating Guild Ball, with its incredible world and well-designed gameplay. We couldn’t be more excited to bring our experience and infrastructure to the table to take Warmachine into its next era.”

Steamforged preemptively answered a few questions about the acquisition in the announcement post. In it, Steamforged made it clear that the acquisition of Warmachine does not interfere with their plans for the other game systems owned by Steamforged, such as Guildball, and the current release and development plans for Warmachine Mark IV are unchanged. Steamforged is in the process of moving over the Privateer Press store onto the Steamforged webpage for Warmachine items and the tabletop RPG, with more news to come about other Privateer owned lines. Steamforged games will honor and dispatch any preexisting orders from the Privateer webpage, though there may be some delay.

Steamforged has also been fielding questions from the community on the Warmachine Discussion Facebook page. According to some of these posts, Steamforged confirmed that they are keeping the current rules design team for Warmachine, though the question of keeping other members like sculptors and artists is more dubious. Another question that Steamforged was able to answer is that Warmachine MK IV models will continue to use 3D prints and direct resin molds.

Steamforged says that it will offer the next key update into what this means for Warmachine on June 6th.

Mantic Games Enters a Strategic Partnership with River Horse

Credit: Mantic Games/River Horse

Mantic Games announced in a press release last Friday that it acquired River Horse Games, owned by veteran game designer Alessio Cavatore.

Cavatore is responsible for helping design several high profile games during his time in the industry. Some of his most notable credits include his work on the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, Warhammer, Mordheim, and Kings of War. Cavatore opened River Horse Games in 2010, and River Horse has been a frequent collaborator with Mantic. 

With the merger, Mantic is receiving River Horse’s brand as well as all of its assets. This includes games produced by River Horse, company stock, and any licensing agreements held by River Horse. Cavatore will stay on as a product design consultant.

The Labyrinth: The Board Game- 40th Anniversary Collection will be the first product born from this acquisition, bearing the joint River Horse and Mantic logo. The crowdfunding campaign for this first joint venture will be going live “soon” on Gamefound.  

Disney Shuts Down Popular Fanmade Lorcana Client

Credit: Disney/Ravensburger

Pavel Kolev, the designer behind the Fanmade Digital Client for Lorcana called Pixelborn, put a statement out to the Discord community for Pixelborn that he will be shutting down the service, per Disney’s request. 

Despite the popularity Lorcana has garnered since its release, so much so that it required the sudden expansion for its competitive circuit, the game lacks any way to be played digitally. Pixelborn aimed to fill that space, providing a robust fan made tool for online Lorcana play, and included functions such as matchmaking and a competitive ladder. According to Kolev, he was recently approached by Disney and told that he needed to shut down Pixelborn.

In the statement on his Discord, Kolev writes “My heart is shattered to pieces. I’ve put everything in this project for the past year and a half. Every night, weekend, and holiday. I know it meant a lot for many people as the only way to experience the game we all love.”

Kolev said in the past on the Patreon for Pixelborn that the only money he would accept through the platform would be to cover server costs. Anything beyond that threshold would be donated to charities such as the Make a Wish Foundation, a promise which Kolev apparently made good on as Pixelborn’s popularity grew. 

Pixelborn is set to shut down permanently on June 16th. It appears as of this writing that Disney will not be pursuing legal action against Kolev.

Wizards of the Coast Opens a Position for Principal AI Engineer

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast is back in the Artificial Intelligence hotseat this week with a recent job posting for a Principal AI Engineer.

The position, which was posted on May 9th, is seeking a candidate with generative AI experience and programs to lead a new team to “explore uses of AI in game development, asset creation and automated frameworks.” According to the job description, this includes exploring the use of AI in all levels of game development and to “Design, build, and deploy systems for intelligent generation of text dialog, audio, art assets, NPC behaviors, and real time bot frameworks.”

Wizards experienced widespread backlash from fan communities following this posting. Wizards put out a statement drawing a hard line against the use of generative AI content in both Magic and Dungeons & Dragons, and many saw this posting Wizards quietly going back on their word.  

Wizards has stood by this anti-AI in tabletop gaming policy in the company’s statements, telling several media outlets that “This job description is for a role for future video game projects. You can reference our AI FAQ here.” Hasbro, the parent company of Wizards, is currently working with several game studios on new releases based on Hasbro properties, and presumably this role would be tied to one or more of those titles.

It is currently unclear on what sort of content Wizards will be using the Principal AI Engineer and their team for in relation to any of these titles.

“Crowded Frontier” Wins Award for 2024’s Best Unpublished Board Game

Credit: Myles Wallace

Crowded Frontier, an unpublished board game by Myles Walalce, is the 2024 winner of the Cardboard Edison Award.

Founded in 2012 by Chris and Suzanne Zinsli, Cardboard Edison seeks to provide support and resources for board game designers. Part of this support is Cardboard Edison’s annual award for the best unpublished board game. Since the contest launched in 2016, gives the chance for games by independent designers to reach much greater attention. The contest this year had over 300 participants, and featured a judges panel from multiple high profile game studios.

The winning game, Crowded Frontier, takes players into the role of a settler in the American West, as you both cooperate and compete with the other players over the prime real estate of the Frontier. It’s designer, Myles Wallace, is the president of the ATX Games Designers Club and was the runner up for the 2023 award. Judges praised the resource collection and homestead systems used in Crowded Frontier, with one claiming that  “The resource collection system shouldn’t work and I don’t understand how it does. It honestly feels like you’ve pulled some kind of magic trick.”.

Despite the success of Crowded Frontier, Wallace has put up a statement saying that he will be seeking a rebranding of the game due to the troubled period in American history it portrays.  Wallace writes that “Diversity and historical sensitivity matter to me, and I apologize to anyone who I hurt by gamifying a troubled period of history. I recognize the displacement of indigenous peoples which resulted from America’s westward expansion and in no way seek to glorify it.”

The boost in visibility provided by the Cardboard Edison award allowed winners to be picked up by major board game publishers or find success on crowdfunding platforms.  

And that wraps it up for our Games Industry News Roundup this week! Join us again next week for more news about the tabletop games industry and related media.

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