|Taken from the Robetech Tactics Kickstarter|
As many are aware, Robotech Tactics, the miniature game based on Robotech produced by Palladium and Ninja Games, has died a fairly ugly death by the looks of it. Worse, Palladium LOST it's Robotech license as a whole. It can't even produce the RPG anymore. Going by the reading of the post linked above by Kevin Simbeada himself, it seems the game didn't find a market.
Now I know the mix of angry posts by Robotech fans aside and some (undeserved) gloating by Battletech fans along with thoughts of "Cool, cheap unseen in the bargain bin for a while!" I wanted to take some time to give my own potential analysis of where this might go from here.
1. The Lawsuit: Harmony Gold already has a bunch of trouble in that they're fighting for a license they won't own in three years. They already don't own a number of the iconic likenesses already and the arbitration they won is, as I said before, probably going to bite them in the ass. The fact that they pulled Palladium's license, is to me a) telling that they do not want to be anywhere near exposed to the crapstorm that is about to come Palladium's way when enraged fans come after them for the Kickstarter awards they didn't get, and b) Harmony Gold realizes they can't subcontract out something they don't own, and are probably going to soon settle out of court. I would. You don't need to be a lawyer to know at this point that HG is going to be throwing good money after bad if they continue to fight this.
2. Palladium: Palladium Books is probably in deep trouble here. Even if they are financially solvent, I can see enraged fans entering a class-action suit over this. The fans were already pretty hot under the collar about this, but this may be the last straw, especially with the terms Palladium is setting to exchange Wave 2 funding for Wave 1 items.Yes, Kickstarter is always a speculative enterprise, and people know that going in, but this thing raised 1.4 Million without result. Yeah, someone's going to want to see someone in court over this. And nothing kills a game company faster than legal bills.
It's also not the first time Palladium's been in this kind of trouble due to some seeming mismanagement or malfeasance. First, there was the "Crisis of Treachery" as Mr. Siembada put it:
(Quoted here from Wikipedia)
Embezzlement case and financial difficulties
On April 19, 2006, Kevin Siembieda issued a statement that revealed Palladium Books' critical financial difficulties due to alleged embezzlement and theft resulting in losses from $850,000 to $1.3 million, coupled with a series of delays in negotiating license deals for their properties in other media (the Nokia N-Gage game, the Jerry Bruckheimer movie, a massively multiplayer online game license, and other potential deals). They raised money to continue operations by selling a signed and numbered – but not, strictly speaking, "limited edition" – art print by Kevin Siembieda, as well as by urging fans to buy directly from their online store if their financial situations would allow for it.
An April 26, 2006 article in the Kingsport Times-News revealed that Steve Sheiring, Palladium's former sales manager, had been sentenced in a plea bargain to a misdemeanor conviction, one year of probation, and ordered to pay $47,080 in restitution to Palladium Books in connection with these thefts. It also provided more information about the thefts, which took place from 2002 to 2004 and were only discovered when Palladium took inventory.
Responding to the controversy engendered by such a low settlement amount in relation to the large loss figure claimed in his earlier press release, Kevin Siembieda posted an open letter to the Palladium forum explaining the matter. Siembieda stated that he had not wanted to make public Sheiring's identity out of the fear that overzealous fans might get into trouble by committing acts of reprisal. He explained that the heaviest punishment Sheiring had been likely to receive even without the plea bargain was probation. Siembieda had a choice between getting any amount of settlement money at all to pay critical bills, or spending more time and money to attempt to get his "pound of flesh" from a man who was reportedly broke anyway. Given the urgency of Palladium's situation, Siembieda did not feel he had any real choice but to take what little he could get.
During the week of May 7, 2007, Palladium announced that revenue from increased sales of books, admissions to its first annual Open House, and purchases of the special art print had covered most of the short-term damages it had incurred. This period of financial instability became referred to by Siembieda as the "Crisis of Treachery" in keeping with his stance that the root cause of the difficulties was the embezzlement perpetrated by Sheiring.
Add this in to multiple complaints to the Better Business Bureau over Robotech Tactics and one can see how truly ugly this is about to get. Mr. Siembada is going to have to work very hard to get a lot of goodwill back, My thoughts to all the RRT backers is simple but stark. Weigh your options carefully. I would advise you to get legal advice personally, as well as carefully read over the Kickstarter terms. I would also advise you to not get too heated on the internet, these days that can bite you very easily.
3. Battletech/Alpha Strike: Battletech’s future, ironically, seems quite bright going forward. With the new box sets on the horizon and the HBS PC Game dropping in April, which was announced yesterday, I think Battletech is finding it’s way back. Now, that said, the paper and pencil game has some growth to do and some recovery to make of its own. I have some small suggestions along those lines:
· Push the box sets hard, and do some more gaming in the older periods, perhaps linked to the computer game coming out. Methinks that would get some real buzz for the old girl!
· Consider a time jump. A lot of things post-Jihad have not sat well with the diehard fans, and it’s time to throw them a bone. Put the last bits of the Jihad to bed, start over and have some fun with it. A very smart game writer once said to me, “When gaming out a cataclysm, better to have the cataclysm and then game out the aftermath, then to do the during, sacred cow may make great burgers, but nobody wants to watch it made.”
· Alpha Strike, bring it back. It was the best idea that’s come out for Battletech in a very, very long time. People like it. It may not be granular, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be operational level Battletech. You can put a battalion plus on either side of the field, and game it out to conclusion in 4 hours (Yes, I have done it). I get the Combat Manuals were a bit expensive. Ok, ask the fans for help. We’d do it for free. Yes, free. You see the amount of fan-based material out there? It’s gigundus. And while it’s been a lot of hit or miss, a lot of it is becoming hits lately, such as TRO 3028, and Kiro No Torii.
If Alpha Strike isn’t the direction Battletech is going, then let the fans take over. We’ll keep the flame.
Well, that’s enough from me. Love to hear your ideas as usual, and please, no gloating as to Robotech right now. I can imagine what those guys are going through, but we can be better than that. Who knows? Perhaps we can turn them into Battletech fans?