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Revan Reborn

If FFG/Asmodee developed an official SW Armada digital game, would you buy/play it?

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In the process of replying on the Armada "Where is all the stock?" thread, I thought that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be perfect if Asmodee created a SW Armada digital game that would allow us to play online multiplayer games (and singleplayer skirmishes against an AI opponent) since it currently isn't safe or smart to play board games with anyone outside of our respective households.

I presume I'm not the first to have this idea and I predict that many Armada players don't want to play a digital Armada game because they prefer to play the physical miniatures game -- as do I. But under the current circumstances, we all have to adapt and make compromises. If it's choice between only playing Armada with my family for the next year, maybe, and playing a digital Armada game against other people online, I'd happily play the digital game. And I think enough Armada players would enjoy playing one too to justify the creation of an official Armada digital board game.

I'm aware that there are fan-created Armada digital games: Vassel and Tabletop Simulator, which are free. But they're unofficial and not sanctioned by FFG/Asmodee. It's my understanding that their unofficial policy is not to acknowledge that those unlicensed digital versions of Armada exist. Unfortunately, that means that FFG can't pivot to using those digital games for Armada Organized Play events. Whereas if Asmodee created a digital Armada game, they could.

Since those unofficial Armada digital games exist and are used by Armada players, the Proof of Concept is already proven viable. And if professionals developed the game with a reasonable budget, it would surely be even better -- and not as glitchy -- as the existing digital Armada games.

I think Asmodee would be wise to adapt to the current crisis and invest more in digital games that won't be effected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic -- or a possible future pandemic. It's possible that both short-term and long-term, playing physical board games with friends and random players could become a thing of the past -- like the handshake. A digital version of the Armada board game could be a short- and long-term solution.

I was wondering what other people thought about this?

Would you buy a digital version of the SW Armada miniatures game if it was officially developed by FFG/Asmodee?

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I don't think they should develop one, because medium matters..

There's a computer game called Battlestar Galactica Deadlock, which is very similar to Armada in play-style (but set in the BSG universe). You build a small fleet of ships (with some options to customise, iirc), deploy them in space, and give them commands over a series of turns (including launching and controlling squadrons). The game is turn-based; you queue up what you want each unit to do that turn, then set go, and both sides' units carry out those instructions at once, in real time (which leads to nice cinematic moments).

The differences between the games make them better for their medium. BSG Deadlock has pretty solid 3d manoeuvring, simultaneous turns (all ships from both sides go at once), and more can happen (you get in far more turns when you don't have to declare things, measure things, move things, read through card effects and roll dice). It isn't limited by the mechanics of a tabletop game. However, Armada makes for a far better tabletop game (players take turns, greater list-building control, the fun of dice rolling and so on) - BSG Deadlock would be difficult to convert to tabletop.

I'm all for someone making a Star Wars-branded capital ship combat computer game. Maybe something that is to Armada what Squadrons (hopefully) will be to X-Wing. But I wouldn't want it to be restricted to being just a digital conversion of Armada.

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On 7/18/2020 at 10:42 AM, Grumbleduke said:

I don't think they should develop one, because medium matters..

There's a computer game called Battlestar Galactica Deadlock, which is very similar to Armada in play-style (but set in the BSG universe). You build a small fleet of ships (with some options to customise, iirc), deploy them in space, and give them commands over a series of turns (including launching and controlling squadrons). The game is turn-based; you queue up what you want each unit to do that turn, then set go, and both sides' units carry out those instructions at once, in real time (which leads to nice cinematic moments).

The differences between the games make them better for their medium. BSG Deadlock has pretty solid 3d manoeuvring, simultaneous turns (all ships from both sides go at once), and more can happen (you get in far more turns when you don't have to declare things, measure things, move things, read through card effects and roll dice). It isn't limited by the mechanics of a tabletop game. However, Armada makes for a far better tabletop game (players take turns, greater list-building control, the fun of dice rolling and so on) - BSG Deadlock would be difficult to convert to tabletop.

I'm all for someone making a Star Wars-branded capital ship combat computer game. Maybe something that is to Armada what Squadrons (hopefully) will be to X-Wing. But I wouldn't want it to be restricted to being just a digital conversion of Armada.

Well, there is a Star Wars-branded capital ship combat PC game: Star Wars: Empire at War. But it's a real-time strategy game, not a turn-based tactical ship combat game. I've played it. It's kinda fun but it lacks tactical and strategic depth. Apparently mods make it better but I haven't dived deep on those yet.

I don't think a SW Armada digital board game would appeal to non-Armada players and become a huge hit. It would basically serve as a practical and safe alternative to the physical miniatures game under the current circumstances, and it would be more convenient way to play more and practice Armada.

1 hour ago, Funny Defcon said:

Yes, but similar to the Pokemon game you could buy a digitial copy of the ships or buy the real ship and a digital copy is included.

I thought about how a digital Armada game would handle ship collections, but I didn't want to do a deep dive in the OP. I just wanted to know if other Armada players would be interested if FFG/Asmodee released a digital Armada game.

I realize that FFG/Asmodee banks on Armada players buying their ship and squadron expansions, so a digital Armada game costing $10, $20, or even $60, would never generate as much profit as a single Armada core set... unless it sold ships and squadrons as micro-transactions. However, I doubt many Armada players want to re-buy their physical collections in digital form, and digital-only Armada players probably won't want to spend hundreds of dollars on digital ships.

So how to handle this problem?

One idea I had was to use the Proof of Purchase tokens included in Armada ship/squadron expansions. Virtually everyone has a smartphone, so a simple app that uses the camera to snap a photo of the PoP token and unlock that ship in the digital Armada game for that player's account. However, the problem is that the PoP tokens don't have unique identifiers, i.e. a serial number, bar code, or QR code, which means the same PoP token could be used to unlock unlimited ships; and players could game the system by sharing pics of PoP tokens online. So that's not a perfect solution.

I remember how the old Replacement Parts Program worked, which allowed customers to submit photos of their purchase receipts and damaged products, so their request for replacements parts could be verified and approved. I thought maybe players could submit photos of their physical Armada collections and/or the purchase receipts, and someone at FFG/Asmodee could send them a unique code that unlocks digital versions of their ships and squadrons for their game account. But Asmodee shut down the RPP and I doubt they'd want to do something like that again.

I think either a subscription or freemium model would be the way to go. The digital Armada game would cost maybe $10 and provide a limited selection of ships and squadrons (and their included cards), with no duplicates. There could be other limitations, like game tokens, that only allowed players to play a certain number of Armada matches per day. More tokens could be earned from gameplay or purchased in packs as MTs.

Or, players could choose to pay for a monthly subscription that would grant them all the ships and squadrons, unlimited multiples and unlimited matches, and access to Leaderboards and Online Tournaments. I think that would compensate FFG/Asmodee, so they wouldn't be as concerned about the potential decline of physical Armada sales because of the digital Armada game.

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1 hour ago, Revan Reborn said:

Well, there is a Star Wars-branded capital ship combat PC game: Star Wars: Empire at War.

Empire at War is definitely the closest thing we have to Armada; the single-player battles in particular (where you're not buying new ships mid-game, but starting with a set fleet and deploying it). It was an attempt to remake Star Wars Rebellion (which FFG also turned into a tabletop game), but I think failed due to trying to be three different games (ground combat, space combat and long-term strategy) and not having enough room to develop any one of them properly.

Quote

 It would basically serve as a practical and safe alternative to the physical miniatures game under the current circumstances, and it would be more convenient way to play more and practice Armada.

I'm not sure this is something FFG would want. There's no way FFG could develop a computer version of Armada in less than 2 years, by which time I really hope the current crisis is mostly over. I suspect they'd also have trouble with licensing; in theory, I think FFG would have to let Asmodee's Digital people make it, except as it is a Star Wars game, it might have to go through EA. I also don't think FFG would want an official way for it to be easier and more convenient to play and practice Armada. Armada is a miniatures game; the best form of marketing they have is people playing Armada out in the world.  I don't think they'd want to encourage us to play less in person.

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16 minutes ago, Grumbleduke said:

I'm not sure this is something FFG would want. There's no way FFG could develop a computer version of Armada in less than 2 years, by which time I really hope the current crisis is mostly over. I suspect they'd also have trouble with licensing; in theory, I think FFG would have to let Asmodee's Digital people make it, except as it is a Star Wars game, it might have to go through EA. I also don't think FFG would want an official way for it to be easier and more convenient to play and practice Armada. Armada is a miniatures game; the best form of marketing they have is people playing Armada out in the world.  I don't think they'd want to encourage us to play less in person.

If I recall correctly, FFG's digital-game department was shut down by Asmodee not too long ago, so FFG couldn't develop an Armada game if they wanted. However, Asmodee could. I know Asmodee has digital versions of their games, produced by their own game devs, so they could do it. I can't imagine it would take 2 years to develop a digital Armada game because  I doubt that the Armada mods that exist for Vassel and TTS took the modders 2 years to make. I bet a team of 2 or 3 devs could create a more polished version of Vassel Armada in 1-2 months, tops. I think the multiplayer aspect would be much more challenging than the board game simulation aspect.

I understand that FFG/Asmodee chose to be physical board game makers and they're not going to abandon their base. However, all businesses are having to adapt in the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the entertainment industry is pivoting to animation, books, and digital games, because those are media that can be safely produced, distributed, and consumed in the current situation. If FFG/Asmodee chooses to simply try to do business as usual, they're probably going to struggle for the next 1-2 years until a proven vaccine is tested and globally distributed.

Admittedly, I've been buying the new Legion expansions and plan on pre-ordering the Clone Wars Armada expansions when they become available, but I doubt the majority of board game players are going to keep purchasing board game products as long as the pandemic persists. I predict that sales are going to trail off this Winter. A digital Armada game would be a viable alternative that could generate enough revenue to see FFG/Asmodee through expected 2nd wave of COVID-19. Then, when the crisis is finally over, there will be a resurgence of gamers buying physical board games and playing in public again, and Asmodee could return to business as usual.

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11 minutes ago, Revan Reborn said:

I bet a team of 2 or 3 devs could create a more polished version of Vassal Armada in 1-2 months, tops.

Probably. But we're not talking about a more polished Vassal module; we're talking about a professional-quality stand-alone program, developed by Asmodee, with full Disney/Lucasfilm approval. Final Disney approval alone would probably take a couple of months (that's partly why the FAQs come out so rarely).

Which is partly why I think FFG is happy to "let" the Vassal and TTS versions continue (even though they're technically unlawful). They're Ok with an unofficial, doesn't-have-to-be-perfect version that people can play, that isn't really a substitute for tabletop gaming. It not being that great is probably part of the appeal for them.

There's also the issue of how well we'd trust them to do it well. The last thing they'd want would be to invest in an Armada game only to have the same thing happen as with the X-Wing 2 app; where the community-made ones were significantly better, to the point where players generally didn't want to use the FFG one.

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You’re better off asking for a community-made application than one from FFG. I don’t see a pricing structure that continues to be profitable to FFG that doesn’t turn the community off to it. 

 

If you want an example, see megamek for Battletech. Custom built Java app for just one game. Not a module shoehorned into an interface like TTS or vassal. 

 

That being said, I would be interested in an Armada app.

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There are also licensing restrictions at play here. EA has the exclusive Star Wars license for video games across all platforms. FFG has exclusive use of Star Wars for miniatures and board games (that aren't just Star Wars versions of pre-existing games, as that's a separate license as well). 

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7 hours ago, Formynder4 said:

There are also licensing restrictions at play here. EA has the exclusive Star Wars license for video games across all platforms. FFG has exclusive use of Star Wars for miniatures and board games (that aren't just Star Wars versions of pre-existing games, as that's a separate license as well). 

Yes, that's tragically true. Although a co-development deal could be made, if both parties wanted to.

But if EA had a hand in it, a digital Armada game would certainly be loaded with MTs and lootboxes. So...

OIP.aDHQpYQweInlZigt_iJjrQHaEK?w=299&h=1

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4 hours ago, Revan Reborn said:

Yes, that's tragically true. Although a co-development deal could be made, if both parties wanted to.

But if EA had a hand in it, a digital Armada game would certainly be loaded with MTs and lootboxes. So...

OIP.aDHQpYQweInlZigt_iJjrQHaEK?w=299&h=1

If I recall, at the DICE conference that occurred earlier this year a Disney rep got on stage and basically said, if you want to make a Star Wars game, do it, approach us, get it published. I could be wrong.

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Posted (edited)

I love this idea. It could be a great way to introduce new players. Make it a teaser of sorts, and yet lets us experienced players scratch our Armada itch.

Make it a mobile game but keep it simple. Don't put every ship and squadron in. Keep upgrades to a few limited, simple choices. Use it to introduce the basic mechanics of the game: Fleet creation lets you pick a few ships and upgrades. Clicking on a ship gives you some manuevering options not full on movement tool to fiddle with. You click on a target ship, the game shows your die rolls so players see and become familiar with the icons but limit the fiddling.

Make the players thirsty for more. They will look at the game and see the line of Armada ships not included but that they can play if they get into the miniatures game. They will already understand the core concepts of fleet creation, how admirals and upgrade works, movement, etc and can easily move up to the "full game" on the tabletop.

This would be a great marketing tool to drive interest in the core product, not supplant it!

Edited by Dameon13

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On 7/17/2020 at 10:27 PM, Admiral Calkins said:

As long as I didn't have to buy digital versions of each expansion, I would buy it AND continue to buy at least two of every physical expansion.

This man speaks for me.

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