On Friday, September 9, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) made a somewhat surprising announcement on their website. The licensing agreement that allowed for games like Blood Bowl: Team Manager, Talisman (4th Edition, Revised), and Chaos in the Old World would end: “Beginning February 28th, 2017, Fantasy Flight Games will no longer offer for sale any games in conjunction with Games Workshop[.]” There were not a lot of details provided, although it was clear that FFG would not be supporting or selling any of those games after the drop-dead date of February 28th.
License agreements ending is nothing new in any entertainment industry. Just like Marvel and Capcom ended their license relationship a few years ago, this kind of thing happens with some regularity. In tabletop gaming, Star Wars has had role-playing games developed by West End Games, Wizards of the Coast, and Fantasy Flight Games all because the license moved between different companies. Of course, every time the creative license switches over, people who like the now extinct product have to accept that they will not get any more of that version of the content. Just like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the final Marvel vs. Capcom game, the Fantasy Flight Games/Games Workshop titles just met their future’s end.
What is interesting about this is how Games Workshop has been pushing the licensing business quite heavily in the past year. They were recently spotted at 2016’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas trying to push all of their brands into video games, entertainment, and more. (And, yes. Licensing Expo is a real thing, apparently.) Earlier this year, they announced that they had made more income than expected from licensing agreements. If anything, it would seem that the FFG/GW license relationship had been good for everybody.
Of course, that assumes that the end of the relationship is on the part of Games Workshop. Since the original license agreement was created, the industry has changed. Back in August 2011, Fantasy Flight Games announced that it had acquired the license to the Star Wars universe from LucasFilm Ltd. That license was renewed in 2015 and expanded to include new content. In November 2014, Fantasy Flight Games merged with the Asmodee Group, creating one of the largest tabletop gaming companies in the United States (excepting Hasbro and its subsidiaries, of course). It may very well be that Fantasy Flight Games no longer sought to pay the licensing fees Games Workshop expected. When you consider that this is the company that has licenses to Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, the Games Workshop line of games seems relatively unimpressive in comparison.
Whatever the reason for the separation, one thing is certain: fans of the Fantasy Flight line of Games Workshop licensed games have until February 2017 to get ahold of them before they will start to become difficult to find.