Friday, December 31, 2010

Huge News Out Of Iron Crown/Rolemaster

This is big enough that I'm going to re-post the email I was sent last evening in its entirety. Bottom line, a lot of things are about to change for Iron Crown and their game lines:

Iron Crown Fans:

First, an apology – For too long, resources have been woefully short to fully meet product and service quality as promised to you, our faithful and patient customers. It’s not that our licensee, Mjolnir LLC, run by Bruce and Heike, didn’t have the best of intentions – they did. But they were beset by difficult market conditions in the gaming industry which I’m sure you are all aware of, and combined with the lack of resources, Mjolnir were unable to fully meet your needs. While it is not our place to manage this situation and we are limited in doing so under the license agreement with Mjolnir, we did provide extreme flexibility in terms of foregoing a substantial amount of royalties which provided cash support for Mjolnir LLC to correct this situation, to no avail.

When Aurigas Aldebaron LLC first acquired Iron Crown Enterprises from bankruptcy, it was with the sole intention of supporting a product loved by many, a contender to rival D&D in the 1980’s, a game company known for its exciting criticals and its “true to art” creation of the first Middle Earth -based role playing games. Sure, I hoped to make a little money on it, but really I just wanted, like all role players at one time or another, to write/work/own a game company. I figured it would eventually provide the perfect outlet for retirement from my day job.

We have worked with Mjolnir since that time, and though there were ups and downs, we appreciate the contribution they made to the further development of ICE products.

It is time, however, for a new chapter to begin.

As such, I am pleased to announce some changes at Iron Crown Enterprises. Firstly, Aurigas Aldebaron and its representatives will manage the website and forums. In addition, we plan to manage more actively the sales and marketing of our products, as well as more closely oversee execution of product development and quality, and product deliverability by our licensees. Yes, all products will still be licensed out to creative organizations and as such, we will still only have limited control over the development of the systems and settings (and that’s a good thing to as we are not game creation and development professionals). But the terms of our agreement with our licensees will ensure better performance, and we think that with the freelancing methods’ fully variable cost structure to be employed by Guild Companion, we solve a critical problem plaguing our business – lack of resources – and instead increase the amount of resources brought to bear on the whole of product creation, production and delivery.

You will find that the ICE website will continue to be a central hub for all things Iron Crown. You will find links on the ICE website directing you to our licensee sites and to where you can purchase ICE items in PDF or print-on-demand physical copies. ICE will no longer operate its own store. You will be able to find announcements and product advertisements for all ICE products on the central ICE website.

We also expect there will be some growing pains and we will make some mistakes along the way – please forgive us and we hope we will get things corrected quickly. At the same time, since this is a new way of operating, we look forward to your suggestions.

As you can see, a lot of things are changing, but many things will stay the same. You shouldn't expect a complete overhaul of the website, or major changes to the forum rules, but we do hope you eventually see some big improvements in product releases, product quality and deliverability.

In fact, we really view this as the next generation of game company management. We are attempting to cut out the middlemen, or as many of the layers as possible in getting the creative aspect of the game to the people that play it. We want to eliminate central management and distribution as much as possible. If ICE can support game developers through some marketing and web-support, these developers can do what they do best, manage their own small expenses and sell via pdf and print-on-demand, eliminating upfront and fixed costs, which lowers risk and allows for more game product creation. It also ensures that if people work on a product, they get paid from the source upon a sale.

We are also pleased to announce that Guild Companion Publications will be the licensee for our HARP, Rolemaster, Spacemaster and Cyberspace game systems, and, as they do now, be the licensee of the Shadow World background This includes the re-involvement of Terry Amthor, the creator of Shadow World, so we expect big things! . In addition, they will take over management of Cyradon setting as well.

ICEVerse as a project is expected to continue, which means RM and HARP fans will have access to a virtual table top program, and hopefully into full-fledged computer games.

We are currently in discussions on Bladestorm and the Silent Death game system license Combat Express, However nothing is finalized and we are looking for interest on this license by other parties.

We are in discussion with third parties with some of our properties and are currently seeking interested parties to manage the pirates-based Run out the Guns! and Guild Companion will be looking for help on the Cyberspace systems as well.

We plan to hold an online Q&A session in the near future and will advise you on the details of this in the near future.

That’s all for now. Thanks in advance for your continued patience and support.

Regards,
The Aurigas Aldebaron Team


Wow. It sounds like this might be a tough transition for those with orders pending with the previous ICE Store. But if the Guild Companion is now involved more in ICE, I'm encouraged. Best of luck in the New Year with Rolemaster, HARP and Iron Crown's other endeavors.

4 comments:

highadventuregames said...

Wow!

chris said...

I don't think a change of licensee is going to make the market issues go away for RM. They need to focus on redundancy and cut back on support for things other than their current lines. Not cannibalizing their own niche could help too.

Bonemaster said...

I agree with Chris on this one. I'm not sure if any of this can help ICE/RM worries. At some point, I think they are going to have to decide if they want to do one of Several things with RM

1) Do only RMSS. Drop RM Classic and HARP
2) Do only RM Classic. Drop RMSS and HARP
3) Do only HARP and call it RM.
4) Create a new edition of RM.

Personally I'd vote for either 2 or 4 myself. Hell, I'd like to see 4 based of Rolemaster Classic. I think it could be done well. I just don't know if there is a market for such a product anymore. Sadly, RM is sort of joke to people. Many seem to hold it up as an example of what not to do with a game system. Many people I know when from RM back to DnD when 3.0 came out. For them it was the middle ground they were looking for.

I'd like to see what happens in 6 months.

Zachary Houghton said...

@ Chris & Bonemaster: Definitely. They're competing for attention within a set fanbase. Dividng it 2-3 ways is painful to watch, and can engender feelings or jealously or abandonment. In a way, it's like watching a polygamous family. :)