(UPDATED- see below)
Huge news coming out of the Origins gaming convention, which took place over the weekend. New York-based Z-Man Games, who I think is currently the best publisher in the business with a stable of innovative, unique, and diverse titles, has been bought by the French firm Filosofia Editions. Details are sketchy with no official word from either Zev Shlasinger or the Filosofia camp at this point, but apparently the deal involves Zev staying on as a sort of brand manager for three years. So Z-Man Games will continue as the strong, vital brand it is but under the aegis of a much larger European company. There is understandable concern that Z-Man will lose their independent ability to produce the kinds of risky, quirky titles they’ve become known for while answering to an owning entity, but for right now it appears that on the consumer end it will be business as usual.
Speculation is still kind of running wild right now. A couple of weeks ago, Z-Man’s US edition of the very excellent Earth Reborn appeared on deal-a-day site Tanga which usually means a game has underperformed- particularly when it’s barely six months old. Some are wondering if Zev took a bath on it and are assuming that this is some kind of bailout move. I think that’s hyperbolic, and the more likely reason is that Filosofia (who had already been working with Z-Man) offered a good buy-out price. Given the strength of the brand and its ambitious schedule, it would certainly make an attractive property.
I’m sure we’ll hear more in the next couple of days about it. I’ve met and gamed with Zev and he’s an incredible guy, I hope he made a nice profit on his sale. If anybody in the tabletop games business deserves the Lamborghini and gold-plated toilet, it’s him. He built Z-Man up from simply republishing the old Shadowfist CCG on through successful B-Movie card games to huge international success publishing titles like Pandemic, Agricola, and Merchants and Marauders.
Update- Zev posted this over at FortressAT.com- congratulations are in order- now go buy Earth Reborn!
Just got back from Origins. I posted something on BGG about it. In a nutshell it is a good thing for me. I got a good price and get to continue doing what I like without the administrative/business side of things which I don’t like.
As for Earth Reborn. Yes it did not sell as well as I wanted but I have not given up on it. I put it up on Tanga to get more exposure for it and sold a lot of it. Then I got some restocks for it form distributors. So perhaps the marketing push was a success (at least for the time being).
I did print a lot of it because I took a chance – and sometimes it works out and sometimes not. But because I printed a lot of it I was able to keep it at a decent price. It just hurt me that the game missed 3 conventions and therefore did not get buzz. When it finally did come out it was less than 2 weeks from Xmas: so I was able to ship initial sales but you know nothing else was going to happen for weeks after that.
Anyway, I do hope ER grows some legs and starts moving better. But if not, I got a slew of games that are doing very well, so I’m not complaining at all.