I have long loved the LCG model. I love the way that the games I enjoy expand in a predictable, regular (usually) fashion, without any of the nonsense that comes from chasing rares in a secondary market. Further, I loved Android: Netrunner. I have played more (and invested more money in) Netrunner than any other game, period. For years, I have been building decks when I should have been studying. I've been waiting for my shift to end so I can stop by the game shop on the way home and pick up more packs.
Then a few weeks ago, Netrunner was abruptly cancelled. I was incredibly saddened. I love the community, I love the design of the game, I love the comeback it's made over the last year as rotation and fresh designs have cleaned up the game dramatically. It was heartbreaking to lose it. But I understood. Nothing lasts forever, and if it was time to say goodbye to a beloved friend, at least I could be grateful for what we had.
Then over the last week, reports have started to flow in of the scarcity of availability for the game's final expansion, which will never be reprinted or otherwise available again. FFG is notorious for failing to meet demand for games such as these, but usually they can get away with it. You have to wait an extra six months for reprints, but you'll get your product eventually. This is not the case here. Many of us who have been committed to the game and to its community will never hold this final expansion in our hands. Not only did FFG fail to provide adequate copies to meet demand, they appear to have done an even more limited print run than they are accustomed to. Reports on reddit indicate that all of Canada only received about 200 copies of the game. Australia appears to have received none at all. All over, people are reporting that their game shops/ Amazon have contacted them informing them that their pre-order has been cancelled. Reign and Reverie wasn't just underproduced, it was barely produced at all. I myself will probably not receive my own preorder from my FLGS. I'm on about a dozen restock notification lists on the slim chance I might find some opportunity to snag it before it's too late.
When I first heard of Netrunner's cancellation, I consoled myself with the hope that FFG would fill the gap in their lineup with a new, exciting LCG that might scratch some of the same itches. I wondered if they could take Michael Boggs' undeniable talent and bring him into a new LCG property which would move beyond the tired old mechanics of dudebashing and explore more of the bluffing and hidden information that made Netrunner an experience par excellence.
But now, I'm rethinking my optimism. With the way that Netrunner's demise is being handled, I don't know if I'll be returning to LCGs. There's been lots of mudslinging over the internet over who is at fault in this situation. Some individuals are blaming Wizards of the Coast for presumably hiking licensing fees too high to retain the game. Others blame FFG, though presumably it's not in their best interest to create a disaster such as this. Others blame Asmodee for being far too (and now irretrievably) conservative in their ordering practice. And for each of these accusations, an equal number of fans are rabidly defending the company in question, arguing that there is no fault to be laid. I'm not here to say who is at fault. I have suspicions, but that's not what this is about. Regardless, the result is the same. My all-time favourite game was cancelled two weeks ago, and to rub it in, I (and thousands of my peers in the community) will not be able to purchase the final expansion to say goodbye to it. My collection will never be complete. Netrunner, if it had to go, should have gone out with a bang. A grand celebration of the great years we had with it. Instead, all we have are the strangled gasps of excruciatingly limited supply.
What does this mean for my relationship with LCGs? I think the only takeaway here is that while I love and have loved the model (not to mention the various properties), I cannot place my trust in FFG to support future games in a responsible way. For myself and I'm sure for many in the community, this marks the death knell for our willingness to purchase FFG LCG products. I'm not laying the blame at FFG's door- I understand that it's not necessarily their fault, but at the end of the day, this is still their product. It's been horribly mismanaged, and whether that's by FFG or Asmodee is immaterial. Trust has been broken so fundamentally that I don't think anything could recover that lost goodwill now.
Obviously, I'm only one person airing my concerns on an internet message board. But at the same time, I feel that I speak for many in the community when I say that my commitment to purchasing, playing, and committing to LCGs likely dies with Netrunner.
P.S.: To the inevitable commenter who will feel the need to post something along these lines: "What do you want, Asmodee should just buy too many copies and then throw them out when the licensing expires??" You can go ahead and save your finger-breath. This isn't just a matter of supply not meeting demand. It's a matter of the ultimate product in a popular game's life cycle being so dramatically underproduced that some countries are getting nothing at all, and others are getting less than there were the number of players enrolled in the 2017 World Championship. This is gross mismanagement, to say nothing of the fact that the license doesn't even expire for four months. The revised core set has been consistently out of print and reprinted since it's release last year. There's no reason at all that the powers-that-be could not have predicted the demand for this product.