Gaming Tonic

Marvel RPG Annihilated, What Now?

imagesI got so bummed out by the news of Margaret Weis Productions regarding the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game (MHRPG) being cancelled.  Check it out here on Bleeding Cool.  The loss of the Marvel license ends the system a year after it got off the ground.  It has happened so fast.  The game has just disappeared from the world.  It was a good game, I liked what I saw.  It had some problems, it had some triumphs as well.

Taking into account the opinions of my group, what I have read on the internet in message boards and forums, and my opinions, this is where I think that either Margaret Weis Productions, or Disney/Marvel, or both, went wrong, and what I would like to see next for the Marvel license.  I'm a huge comic book fan and an even bigger Marvel fan so I really wanted the game to succeed, even if I wasn't wowed by some of the bits and pieces of the system or product plan.

From this post from by Cam Banks, Design Lead for Marvel Heroic RPG and former Creative Director for Margaret Weis Productions in the EN World forum, you can conclude that the Margaret Weis Productions was forced to use the story line format.  Some gamers thought that this was a bit of railroading.  Some gamers thought it was also a bit anticlimactic, because the players might already be aware of how a particular story line ends.  So let’s assume forcing the story line mode was part of the issue with the failure of the system commercially.  Green Ronin seemed to have some success with the DC license and its Mutants and Masterminds system.  They've produced two roster books so far under the DC banner.

Still, some fans found disappointment with the lack of character generation rules in the MHRPG.  So many other systems have a bit more depth and that might have thrown some players.  This is especially true if the player wasn't the biggest comic book fan or the most creative mind.  In the same thread mentioned above Cam also answers a couple questions with a yes about the lack of character generation rules and implying that the creators of the game were made to keep the focus of the game on playing the Marvel characters and not on character generation rules.

We don’t have to assume that it was a cost issue thanks to the details in the press release.  The current format, marketing, and product structure did not gain the support in the marketplace that was necessary to make the cost of the Marvel license viable.  Is the license so much that this will be true for any company that seeks to acquire it?  The supers genre is one area of the rpg field and while it is the favorite of some, those are a minority.  That is a smaller market than fantasy, so you can’t expect D&D or Pathfinder dollars.  Fantasy has always been the titan of the gaming industry.

Would another company be capable of making a profit after acquiring the license?  Would a Kickstarter by a smaller company be able to acquire the funds necessary to acquire the license?  It seems like you would be free and clear if you acquired the license that way.  At least for a little while assuming you could generate enough cash.  How much would Marvel/Disney have to say in the development of the game.  It looks like they aren't the quiet type of mouse.

Fans of the Marvel Heroic RPG can hopefully expect a generic setting supers game to be developed by Margaret Weis Productions, they still own the IP on the rules system, and this just affects the Marvel license.  It may take awhile.  Until then there is a lot of fan created material on Plot Points and Exploring-Infinity is an excellent resource.  So it's kind of on the fans of the game to take it from here.  Well that is my thoughts, a little bit of fact, and a lot of hope about the future of the Marvel license.  Until next time, Roll Hard!

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  1. Honestly the ideas were interesting but the system has some serious issues. MWP is doing good things, developing interesting ideas, and going in new directions. But leading is always dangerous. That said I feel like someone screwed the pooch when they releasing a RPG without character generation system. I am sure some gamers love the idea of playing existing heroes. But I think many more would not. I’m sad when any game fails, but I’m not shocked to see this happen. Big Comic IPs in general and Marvel in particular are hard to hold on too. I think a good place to go for marvel game IP will be things like Agents of Shield,

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