Insider 6-26-13

Several years ago, Privateer Press teamed up with video game developer WhiteMoon Dreams to create a WARMACHINE video game. After a great deal of effort and considerable expense to themselves, WhiteMoon Dreams produced a playable demo of an action-adventure game that we showed off at Lock & Load and E3 a couple years ago.

During the time it took to create the demo and in the subsequent months as we began our search for a publisher or financier to back this ambitious project, we found that the video game industry had changed. Since then, we’ve seen huge layoffs, closures, consolidation, and a general retreat to a more conservative stance toward new properties in the video game industry. Unless a title already has a successful history in video games or is a Hollywood franchise, it’s no easy task to navigate the publisher gauntlet from pitch to worldwide release. The process is lengthy and full of challenges.

In the past two years, we’ve changed course several times, reinventing our approach to the game in an attempt to get in front of what publishers were looking for. Uncertainty regarding the future of consoles and the untamed frontier of mobile gaming means that what publishers and financiers are willing to risk money on changes moment to moment. Decisions aren’t based solely on the strength or merit of a property—in fact, that’s probably one of the lesser considerations. Rather, a game is chosen for production based on complex market evaluations that can take months or even a year or more. And the results are disproven nearly as often as they are rewarded, as the high number of cancelled projects in the video game industry attests.

We are continuing to pursue the goal of the high budget action-adventure game and are currently entertaining multiple interesting possibilities that may accomplish that goal. Around the first of this year, though, we realized that the fluctuating state of the video game industry meant it would likely be a good while longer before we’d be able to make real progress. What’s more, the situation would probably become even more difficult before beginning to improve. So, we’ve decided to take things into our own hands.

Accessible technology, new modes of financing, and the lack of barriers between artists and their audience have put great power into the hands of independent creators across all mediums. Privateer Press is no stranger to independent publishing—that’s been our M.O. since day one. WhiteMoon Dreams has also successfully operated independently for many years, so much so that they could develop a proof-of-concept for a WARMACHINE game without the support of a publisher. Both companies have a burning desire to create a WARMACHINE video game born out of pure passion to see this world brought to life, so instead of waiting for someone to give us the green light, we’ve charted a new course for the game and we’ve joined forces to make it a reality.

What we’re working on now is something quite different from what was shown before. We don’t need a publisher to get it done, and it’s much closer to the tabletop experience, which we believe existing players of WARMACHINE are really going to appreciate.

Changing course with this video game has been incredibly exciting because of the sudden surge in activity and the measurable progress we see every day. Removing so many of the barriers in front of us means we’ll realize this game sooner rather than later. Privateer and WhiteMoon Dreams together have always dreamed of not just one game, but a library of titles that explore the Iron Kingdoms from end to end, with all the varied experiences one could imagine in that world. We’re taking a huge step in that direction right now, and we’re working our asses off to get it done. The road won’t be without its challenges. The difference with this project, however, is that it won’t be publishers or financiers that are responsible for giving us the green light—it will be the audience for whom we are making the game.

Soon, we will launch a Kickstarter campaign with the hope of raising the capital necessary to fund development of WARMACHINE: Tactics, a turn-based, squad-level strategy game for PC and Mac. WARMACHINE: Tactics will include a single-player campaign as well as synchronous and asynchronous online multi-player play. The game, which will be expanded with downloadable content over time, will ship with two playable factions in multi-player to start—Cygnar and Khador—but our first stretch goal will allow us to also include Cryx and The Protectorate at the game’s launch.

The Kickstarter will be conducted under Privateer Press Interactive, a new entity created to act as the bridge between Privateer Press and WhiteMoon Dreams for the purpose of developing WARMACHINE: Tactics and bringing it to our players. The game is being created as a close collaboration between both companies and will bring WARMACHINE to the world of video gaming with every bit of the same passion and commitment to quality that has made it a success on the tabletop.

We’re incredibly excited to be embarking on this journey, particularly now that we have forged our alliance with WhiteMoon Dreams and have made the decision to achieve the creation of this game with no one to answer to but our players. We hope you will be as excited to see this game made as we are to make it. Stay tuned for more details forthcoming in the upcoming weeks prior to the launch of the Kickstarter campaign. For the moment, here’s a sneak peek of some of the work done so far . . .