Everything, everywhere, coming at us from every horrifying angle all at once — it’s the news, baby. Breaking news, mysterious developing news, Huey Lewis based Sports! news, and sweet fluff stories about cute cats and friendly grandmas followed immediately by horrifying news reports that rob you of sleep and give you gray hairs. We are constantly inundated with new news screaming at us to remain informed at all times.
It’s important to be informed, I guess. Keeps us well rounded I hear.
In this new weekly column we’ll be taking a look at noteworthy news stories from the industry over the past week and offering some thoughts on those where appropriate. So today we’re coming to you live from the Goonhammer Newsroom, with Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson giving you our top five stories (and one bonus) of the week.
1. Lawsuit filed against Netflix over TTRPG tie-in
What’s Happening: Netflix is being sued by tabletop RPG maker Evil Genius Games over a TTRPG tie-in for the upcoming Zach Snyder film “Rebel Moon,” releasing this December.
The Backstory: The California-based Evil Genius Games is no stranger to publishing licensed Tabletop Roleplaying games for big movie franchises such as Pacific Rim, Highlander, and Escape from New York and early in 2023 they were contacted by Netflix to create a new RPG based on Zach Snyder’s big budget sci-fi action film, “Rebel Moon.”
According to a statement on the Evil Genius Games site, the company was able to put together several rulebooks for the game.
- An extensive World Bible that expanded the universe created by the film. According to the lawsuit filed by Evil Genius Games, much of the greater worldbuilding completed for the Rebel Moon RPG is completely original work, as the information provided by Netflix for the game was extremely limited. This World Bible appears to be a document for internal use only in the development of the RPG.
- A Player’s Guide and Game Master’s Guide have also been completed, meaning the game is fully playable in its current state.
- The game has been shared with Zach Snyder himself, who gave his blessing and was “blown away” by the materials created by Evil Genius
However, Netflix canceled the project and contract with Evil Genius Games in May of this year. According to Netflix, Evil Genius Games violated confidentiality agreements in its contract by sharing artwork at the GAMA expo.
- Evil Genius claims that all artwork was sent prior to the event for review and approval, and discussions of showing off the game at GAMA were something that Netflix and Evil Genius had already spoken about prior to the trade show. The lawsuit claims that this was a recorded conversation with consent by all parties.
- The presentation where the art in question was shown was during a joint presentation where Netflix staff was present.
- Evil Genius Games had prioritized the development of the Rebel Moon RPG in order to meet the tight deadline set by Netflix, which they claim caused them to miss several other business opportunities.
According to Evil Genius Games, the actions taken by Netflix are simply an excuse to take the game the company created, as well as the larger IP made by the game for itself, without the need to compensate Evil Genius Games for its work.
At face value this means that the Rebel Moon RPG will simply exist in a state of unreleased limbo. More troublingly, since Netflix asserts that it is now the sole owner of the Rebel Moon RPG IP, it could release the completed game on its own without needing to share profit with Evil Genius Games.
Evil Genius Games asserts that after several months of attempting to find an amicable resolution proved fruitless, it decided to take action and file a lawsuit against Netflix on Thursday of last week. Evil Genius Games has released a copy of the lawsuit which you can read here.
The goal of this lawsuit against Netflix is to either rescind the termination of their agreement, allowing Evil Genius to release the game and receive credit for and profit from their work, or to seek unspecified damages against the streaming company.
More information is to come on this lawsuit when a court date is set and the parties meet for trial.
2. Games Workshop stock prices on the rise
In a trading update released on September 15th, Games Workshop announced another three months of strong trading “ahead of the Board’s expectations.” Games Workshop estimates a profit of about $70 million before tax, and a $20 million dollar payout to shareholders. This has been credited to a “healthy growth across all channels”.
This trend of remarkable positive growth makes Games Workshop one of the strongest shares in the FTSE 250, a stock index of the 101st to 350th largest companies listed on the London stock exchange. Optimistic readings of this growth suggests that Games Workshop could break into the FTSE 100 at this rate, but more likely it will remain as a big fish in the FTSE 250.
What does any of this mean to us, as humble Warhammer players? While my Chaos Space Marines won’t be getting me a cut of that $20 million, there’s still interesting information to glean from this report. The time period covered here (June to August of 2023) covers the release window of 10th Edition, and it’s a very strong indicator that the release of Leviathan and the new ruleset was a major financial success for the company.
An interesting piece of insight is the profits from licensing revenue. The revenue number from licensing has doubled since this time last year, which is an exciting portent for the future of licensed material based in any of the Warhammer universes.
Games Workshop appears to be playing it cool in the release, noting that it is still early in the financial year and further updates will be given as appropriate.
3. Warhammer Day Preview on October 14th
Games Workshop announced on Monday through the Warhammer Community Website that there will be a very special Warhammer Preview event on October 14th to look ahead at some of the new releases coming up in the near future.
The video mentions Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar both getting some love, and further reading in the article confirms we will get a look at some new rulebooks and miniatures for both of these games. Additionally, while it’s not mentioned in the video, it looks like we will get a look at the next season of Kill Team with a new box and new faction to be unveiled.
Big emphasis was put on Warhammer: The Old World during the short video, and those who have been waiting for any crumb of info on the return to Warhammer Fantasy may finally get their patience rewarded next week.
Starting Monday the 9th of October, Warhammer Community will be running articles that look back on some of the highlights of the past 40 years of Warhammer, as a buildup for Saturday’s big reveals.
The preview event will be held on the Warhammer TV twitch channel, and will begin 2pm BST, 6pm PDT, 9am EST, 3pm CEST, and finally 12am AEDT.
4. Backerkit takes a stand against AI generated materials
In a blog post on Monday, October 2nd, crowdfunding website Backerkit made an announcement that it will be heavily restricting the use of AI-generated content on its platform effective October 4th, 2023. Backerkit states in its blog post that this is to protect creators against the rapidly advancing technology of AI, and the myriad of complex problems regarding ownership, creativity, and compensation that AI-generated content creates.
The blog post states that a few exceptions will be made for some common AI assisted tools that avoid problems of ownership, such as generative content fill or AI assisted syntax tools. Backerkit makes it clear in this policy that any content solely created by AI will not be allowed. Content on the site must be first created by humans. Additionally, content uploaded on the Backerkit site will be hidden by default from being used for AI training purposes.
This is a big step for the larger tabletop gaming space. The biggest player in the crowdfunding world, Kickstarter, announced earlier this August that they would be launching a new policy regarding AI content that requires projects to disclose if they will be using AI to develop “images, text, or any other output”, as well as where data will be drawn from and how it’s used in the project.
This policy, which started on August 29th, was quickly put to the test when the “More Terraforming Mars!” board game campaign used AI-generated art that did not meet the requirements as laid out by Kickstarter in this policy. Despite this, was allowed to continue a successful campaign that raised millions of dollars.
Backerkit received big attention already for being the preferred home of the massively popular Gloomhaven family of games, wrapping up a successful campaign raising over $5 million this July. As concerns regarding AI-generated content grows, Backerkit could become a new home for creators seeking protection against AI should they stay resolute in enforcing this policy.
5. Wizards of the Coast announces a campaign to bring Dungeons and Dragons to high-need schools.
In a statement released on Monday, October 2nd, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) announced a new campaign partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org to help bring dungeons and dragons to 200 schools across the United States.
This program, which is effective immediately, aims to help struggling teachers find new ways to support the children in their classrooms without having to resort to spending their own money on doing so. Ann Pifer, CEO of AdoptAClassroom.org, notes that teachers in the United states spend an average of about $860 on supplies for their students out of their own pocket annually. Through this program, teachers will receive several Dungeons and Dragons books, materials, and the D&D after-school club kit without needing to spend a dime of their own money, as well as receiving $100 of credit to spend on materials at AdoptAClassroom.org.
If you are a teacher in a high-needs school, or you know a teacher in a high-needs school, you can follow this link to the online application to be one of two hundred schools to enter this program.
While it’s a shame that there are far more than 200 high needs schools in the United States that could benefit from a program like this to help students engage with the social skills and problem solving skills that tabletop roleplaying games can provide, this collaboration with AdoptAClassroom.org is a good start to bringing the adventures of Dungeons and Dragons to more kids who otherwise wouldn’t have easy access to the game.
Bonus: Wyrd Science releases Issue 5 this October
Tabletop gaming magazine Wyrd Science is set to release their next issue in their first print volume this October. The magazine releases on a quarterly schedule, and includes interviews with game developers in the tabletop space about upcoming releases and popular games, as well as reviews and editorial articles.
Of particular interest this month is a deep dive from Roleplaying game historian Shannon Appelcline into the realms of the “Grimdark” in tabletop spaces. It will explore the origin and explosion of popularity in franchises such as Judge Dread and, of course, Warhammer 40,000.
And that wraps it up for our first ever Live From the Goonhammer Newsroom report! Join us again next week for more tabletop news. If you have an interesting tabletop news lead, send it to email@example.com and we may include it in next week’s report!