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So why do you think AEG sold L5R?

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Now im not one of the people "in the know" by any means, but I've been supporting L5R for a long time.

 

I don't check facebook posts or dedicate all of my time to the brand or check the old AEG forums that much. Over the years I've dropped off with activity concerning the brand because other than the RPG material I did not like where the game was going with the cards. Some of the storylines were cool though.

 

But, L5R seemed like AEG's golden child and every other brand or product came second to it, or never really had the huge following or revenue as L5R. Again, maybe i'm wrong here.

 

So why hack up the goose and cook it for dinner instead of holding onto the eggs?

 

I hear that AEG was making some bad financial decisions, and I don't doubt it when I saw products like discwars trying to be pushed at conventions or other similar things that are expensive novelties, clearly being funded by the revenue of L5R cards, then taking a tank. 

 

But again, why sell L5R? I feel like it's doom for AEG.

 

 

 

Now....having FFG buy a game I've loved for years and potentially fix some of the major gripes (The game's economy system being a big one.) i've had with it is a good thing IMHO. They've done great things with GOT and Talisman to name a few.

 

So why do you think (or know why) L5R was sold?

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I'll quote Dave Laderoute, Brand Lead for L5R at AEG:

 

 


First off, I want to say, without reservation, that I believe that this move of L5R to FFG is absolutely the best thing for Rokugan and the games set there. FFG does amazing work, producing fantastic products--I've played all of their LCGs at one time or another, and particularly look forward to finally getting my hands on the new Game of Thrones LCG. [...]
 

So there's that. For my own part, though, this has been tough. While absolutely the right decision for the game and for AEG, it's been hard seeing this Brand that I only took over a few months ago walk out the door. Like the rest of the Brand Team, I had high hopes we could revitalize the game; it was in a great place mechanically, the broad story we had planned out was AWESOME, and the degree of interaction we wanted to offer you guys to guide and detail it was unprecedented. However, there were also some hard truths. The game's days as a CCG were numbered. We'd already concluded it was time to reinvent it, and were working on a plan to do new things with it, including quite likely turning it into an ECG like Doomtown. Ultimately, all roads led to where we are now--a hiatus for the card game and its reinvention into something other than a CCG. This is where more hard realities came into play. I can't get into details, obviously, but suffice to say that, at the end of the day, selling the Brand to FFG was the only course of action that made sense. John Zinser actually asked me to convince him otherwise, so I sat down and tried to assemble a compelling argument to keep L5R and redo it ourselves...but nothing I could put together was enough to convince ME, much less John. I can guarantee you that John, myself and a few others met many times, emailed many more, agonized and second-guessed, lost sleep and worried, before the decision we all knew was coming was finally made.

So here we are.

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Because it was failing as a CCG. They were already deciding whether turning it into an ECG would be viable. And since they were looking to go that route anyway, and FFG expressed an interest in purchasing the IP during Gencon, they did some soul-searching and rationalized that the best way to maintain the game that made them, and that they love, would be to sell it to a company that had the resources to "treat it right" rather than keep it and risk a further decline.

 

At least, that's the impression I've gotten based on posts made by people involved on AEG's side.

 

Dangit, Gunichi! MY clan has the ninjas! Not YOURS! Sheesh!  ;)

Edited by Bayushi Tsubaki

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Participation was dropping and I've heard that number of game stores that were willing to host L5R products and events was smaller with each day. Looking at the past year, you could say that this was the Radical Last Chance Year - with Super Drastic Timeline, New Brand Manager, Totally New Story Team, Interactive Storyline Taken To A New Level, and Promises Of Awesome Future. I think that New Brand was basically given last chance to reanimate the franchise using whatever means necessary. 

And, well, it wasn't enough.

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Participation was dropping and I've heard that number of game stores that were willing to host L5R products and events was smaller with each day. Looking at the past year, you could say that this was the Radical Last Chance Year - with Super Drastic Timeline, New Brand Manager, Totally New Story Team, Interactive Storyline Taken To A New Level, and Promises Of Awesome Future. I think that New Brand was basically given last chance to reanimate the franchise using whatever means necessary. 

And, well, it wasn't enough.

See, Brand, the RPGteam, and Story were doing good work... but CCG design had given us the trainwreck of Emperor, the bland misery of Ivory... Things were starting to turn around, but Emperor followed by Ivory was probably the death knell. Those were some rough, rough years.

Edited by Shiba Gunichi

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I would say that fixing L5R at this point needs an investment. 

 

FFG acquired the licence, will have people work on it for 2 years and then they can start making money with it. They are investing.

AEG also would have needed to invest in the brand, and I assume they were not willing to. So selling it is a good move for them.

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Food for thought: if AEG kept the brand and made it an ECG a la Doomtown, it would have been designed and playtested by the same people and suffered the same troubles that plagued it as a CCG. My two zeni.

 

. . . amen.

 

 

Also thanks for the quick feedback in the thread.

 

And what is an ECG? Never played doomtown or anything (that I know of) in the ECG format.

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Participation was dropping and I've heard that number of game stores that were willing to host L5R products and events was smaller with each day. Looking at the past year, you could say that this was the Radical Last Chance Year - with Super Drastic Timeline, New Brand Manager, Totally New Story Team, Interactive Storyline Taken To A New Level, and Promises Of Awesome Future. I think that New Brand was basically given last chance to reanimate the franchise using whatever means necessary. 

And, well, it wasn't enough.

See, Brand, the RPGteam, and Story were doing good work... but CCG design had given us the trainwreck of Emperor, the bland misery of Ivory... Things were starting to turn around, but Emperor followed by Ivory was probably the death knell. Those were some rough, rough years.

 

Your conclusions about the "trainwreck" of Emperor are not ones I would endorse. Emperor was kicked off with Forgotten Legacy, and that sets over-the-top power level was, IMHO, a big cause of where Emperor Edition ended up. And, from what I can tell, that was a Brand decision, not a Design one.

 

I just would just disagree generally about whether Ivory was bland or miserable. It seems especially strange to slam CCG design for 2014 while praising everyone else, when that was the Year of No Fiction (because there was barely a story team left) and it seemed like a lot of folks were really unhappy with how the story prizes for that year went into choosing the new Emperor.

Edited by Daramere

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I believe we all need to be honest that there were A LOT of factors that had sent the game into a downward slide.

 

The card mechanics are just one of them, and honestly, given that as long as I played the game (and my first purchased pack was Shadowlands), there were always mechanical problems of one sort or another, that may not even be the primary reason it declined.  The thing was that there were always other reasons to hang on through the difficult mechanical sessions, and when those other issues started hitting at the same time the mechanical difficulties hit, it became a vicious cycle.

 

Other problems?

AEG's decline in customer service was a big issue for me. At once point, if you had a problem, you could pick up a phone or drop an email and deal with a person directly--quickly,efficiently, and (most importantly) politely.  After a while, they weren't even answering ANYTHING.

Related to that was the disaster of the IH.  How many people paid for Herald memberships, then saw NOTHING for years?  (That was one of the REAL issues for me--they'd taken people's money and . . . NOTHING.)

Distribution delays/changes: how many times were sets promised, but not delivered as promised or when promised?  

Then, as mentioned above, the story got sporadic, then almost non-existent.  True, there were only two members to the ST for a while, but WHY?  Haven't there always been fans waiting in line to join up on the ST?  They could have glanced through the fan fic section of the forum and tapped a couple of people at any point.
 
In the end, I don't doubt all the loving comments from the powers-that-were about how much the game meant to them--at one point.  But . . . nostalgia only goes so far and inertia is really hard to overcome once it sets in.  Once the problems began, it seems to me that it was hard for them to break out of the "how we've always done it" to find a new way to get it all done.  
 
In the end, it was probably easier (and to be honest, BETTER) to let someone else take over who can come at the process with fresh eyes and fresh enthusiasm.
Edited by Azamiko

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Your conclusions about the "trainwreck" of Emperor are not ones I would endorse. Emperor was kicked off with Forgotten Legacy, and that sets over-the-top power level was, IMHO, a big cause of where Emperor Edition ended up. And, from what I can tell, that was a Brand decision, not a Design one.

 

 

I just would just disagree generally about whether Ivory was bland or miserable. It seems especially strange to slam CCG design for 2014 while praising everyone else, when that was the Year of No Fiction (because there was barely a story team left) and it seemed like a lot of folks were really unhappy with how the story prizes for that year went into choosing the new Emperor.

 

-

Well. I guess 2014 was just a bad year in general then. Because CCG Design needs some flak for that. And a non existing Story Team only added to that.

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Design, Support, and Brick and Mortar outreach have all been a disaster. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a lot of people who would call the last few years the best the games been, design wise. And by AEG's own admission they basically stopped spending money on the game to build up their other game lines. Combine that with the terrible way they've been treating the stores that sell their games, give players room to play, recruit, and develop new fans and i think its not at all surprising that the game stopped being profitable. Combine that with a shrinking market and all of a sudden the smart business move is to sell. but it didn't have to be.

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Lotus Edition? Over the top cards, Turn 3 Enlightenment Victories, Turn 1 Scorpion Dishonor Victory, and so very much more. Where 6+ gold for a personality was seen as too expensive.

 

Emperor Edition? Over the top cards. Those who were not a fan of the Gaijin and Colony flavor spread throughout Emperor.

 

Ivory Edition? Bland, low power level, didn't reuse Elite or Stalwart keywords, no Ancestor attachments, no Celestial cards, only 1 stronghold instead of 4. 

 

Tomorrow mini-set? Ratlings go fight-fight Tomorrow and many end up dying. Basically when Ratlings stopped being a real playable faction. Later there are 14 Ratlings in Samurai Edition but there is no Stronghold for Ratlings in Samurai Edition. Which as one can guess would make people take a break or just stop completely from the game if their favorite faction gets destroyed like that.

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They didn't elect to make the difficult changes needed when they were viable. They expected the fans to shoulder the shoddy balance, inherent design flaws, AND play the largest part in attracting new customers. That might have been feasible had they not also curtailed community and customer support, overburdened story, and offered up often half-baked counter-intuitive day-late-dollar-short slipshod changes that further aggravated the playerbase and exasperated the rules team. It honestly seemed like they were hedging their bets by investing elsewhere so when L5R finally took a dump they wouldn't be left holding the bag. I am thankful to them for passing said bag before the game truly died and was left to fester in the collective memories of it's adoring fans. 

Edited by Asako Moegaru

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I think AEG knew they couldn't continue the way they had with the game. They needed a reboot too, but it might not helped them, the existing player base would have felt betrayed, the retailers they angered probably wouldn't want the new product either. So they made the best they could do, giving the IP into someone else's hands who has the liberties they didn't had.

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It was simply more trouble than it was worth. The brand was faltering, and has been for a while from what I gather. An onerous tournament support system didn't help, I'm sure, and it's a convenient excuse. They've been in trouble before, of course, but AEG's not in a position to prop it up anymore, nor do they need to with their new focus on board games (fire and forget and otherwise).

 

Better to sell it as a fixer-upper.

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Onyx Empire storyline pretty much sounded like a reboot plan. It was supposed to redefine the Clans, make them iconic again, and cut off the last history and focus on new threat and how new generation tackles it. Again, it really looked like "we are in terrible situation, we need extreme measures if we are going to go on forward, what do we have to lose?".

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I am pretty sure it was a reboot and I would be very hapy if FFG also uses it that way. Cause it gives so much potential to make the clans and their mechanics unique again and not something like spider who where half dragon half scorpion but nothing unique.

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I think that Dave touched on this in his last release, but it's important as well to re-iterate: AEG as a company has been moving away from card games in general for a while. Their focus is more on the board game market these days.

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 It seems especially strange to slam CCG design for 2014 while praising everyone else, when that was the Year of No Fiction (because there was barely a story team left) and it seemed like a lot of folks were really unhappy with how the story prizes for that year went into choosing the new Emperor.

 

Pardon, perhaps my time frame is unclear: Story and Brand really started firing on all their pistons AFTER a relatively recent change- I am hardly going to endorse 2014 to anyone. 2015,on the other hand, was showing some promise, and we made it nine months in.

And I'm glad you enjoyed Ivory, because everybody else I talk to seems to have trouble staying awake through the Force Pump arc.

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 It seems especially strange to slam CCG design for 2014 while praising everyone else, when that was the Year of No Fiction (because there was barely a story team left) and it seemed like a lot of folks were really unhappy with how the story prizes for that year went into choosing the new Emperor.

 

Pardon, perhaps my time frame is unclear: Story and Brand really started firing on all their pistons AFTER a relatively recent change- I am hardly going to endorse 2014 to anyone. 2015,on the other hand, was showing some promise, and we made it nine months in.

And I'm glad you enjoyed Ivory, because everybody else I talk to seems to have trouble staying awake through the Force Pump arc.

 

 

I loved giving each of my cards 2F.  One at a time.  Until my hand was empty.

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Participation was dropping and I've heard that number of game stores that were willing to host L5R products and events was smaller with each day. Looking at the past year, you could say that this was the Radical Last Chance Year - with Super Drastic Timeline, New Brand Manager, Totally New Story Team, Interactive Storyline Taken To A New Level, and Promises Of Awesome Future. I think that New Brand was basically given last chance to reanimate the franchise using whatever means necessary. 

And, well, it wasn't enough.

See, Brand, the RPGteam, and Story were doing good work... but CCG design had given us the trainwreck of Emperor, the bland misery of Ivory... Things were starting to turn around, but Emperor followed by Ivory was probably the death knell. Those were some rough, rough years.

 

Your conclusions about the "trainwreck" of Emperor are not ones I would endorse. Emperor was kicked off with Forgotten Legacy, and that sets over-the-top power level was, IMHO, a big cause of where Emperor Edition ended up. And, from what I can tell, that was a Brand decision, not a Design one.

 

I just would just disagree generally about whether Ivory was bland or miserable. It seems especially strange to slam CCG design for 2014 while praising everyone else, when that was the Year of No Fiction (because there was barely a story team left) and it seemed like a lot of folks were really unhappy with how the story prizes for that year went into choosing the new Emperor.

 

 

Daramere... from the player standpoint, what is the tangible difference between a bad "brand decision" and a bad "design decision" that damages the game exactly?  Ultimately, I do not think the average player cares much exactly who screwed up.

 

For my two koku... the overall game play (design, and balance) of Emperor Edition and Ivory were total garbage.  Also high on the list of problems were endless product delays, rules changes (and subsequent screwups), and a total lack of AEG understanding their deficiencies compared to the competition (LCGs, Magic, and Hearthstone in particular).

 

 

Thaddok

 

 

PS: I apologize for asking, but I feel compelled... how could you differentiate between bad brand and design?  Did you have some inside info?

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