yakface wrote:From my experiences the amount of people who I ever see playing Battletech has always been very low. And from my understanding of BattleTech history wasn't there some point when the company was doing very well and where they were releasing expansions all the time and then the company went under? At that point didn't a large chunk of the fan-base stop playing (or am I mis-remembering)?
I'd argue that their player-base is no smaller nor larger than most of the 'successful' games. I don't know a soul who plays historical games, nor D&D for that matter, and they've been going strong for a long, long time.
But, and this is without attempting to derail the thread, let me give you the brief brief short version on BTech:
1. BTech is launched as 'BattleDroids'.
2. George Lucas gets his panties in a twist and orders them to change the name.
3. Year later BattleTech comes out.
4. BTech establishes itself as an iconic game, party because of the images and Mecha taken from various Japanese sources, and also through things like computer games (one of the first PC
games on CD I ever got was MechWarrior 2 - and who doesn't know what an Atlas or a Timber Wolf is?).
5. (This is the strange one) The heads of FASA, at the time, come to the conclusion that there's no future in their line of business, and decide to shut the company down. People often mistake this for FASA going out of business. Well... they did
go out of business but they chose to. As I said, it's a strange one.
6. This sends Ral Partha out of business as they had gone from a model making company to a symbiotic company that needed FASA to stay afloat. So there was one company that died out of this, but it wasn't FASA.
7. Jordan Wiseman, one of the original creators of BTech, buys the rights and starts Wizkids. He makes BTech into a collectable miniature game in line with his MageKnight line.
8. This is where you see the reduction in players. BTech hadn't change anything in all those years - the rules had been tweaked and whatnot, but there hadn't been any wholesale paradigm shifts ala 40K
2nd Ed to 3rd Ed.
9. BattleTech, as we know it, becomes Classic BattleTech, bought by a German company called FanPro. A lot of old FASA people work there and continue to put new products out.
10. Wizkids is bought by Topps somewhere during this.
11. Classic BattleTech gets transferred to Catalyst Game Labs, they release many new products, starting with Total Warfare, the first major upgrade/revision to the BTech rules. Now that was a FanPro product, but it got its big boost when Catalyst came on board. Still, the rules are the same. At that point it becomes a case of 'BTech isn't dead - it's just been very quiet until now'.
12. There is a product explosion, with new sourcebooks and rulebooks/expansions coming out several times a year (books 10 times the size of any GW
product, with about 100 times the polish, but coming out at the same rate as GW
). This includes the Origin-winning Intro Boxed set.
13. Wizkids goes out of business. Topps scuttles the company.
14. BTech, now in its 25th year (this year), changes from Classic BattleTech back to just BattleTech again.
There were certainly lows during the 25 years it’s been around, but the strange part is there was never a point where the game stopped or ended and had to be picked up again. The Wizkids/Dark Age crap alienated a lot of fans - myself included - but BTech had always survived on the loyalty of its players and word of mouth - they couldn't open their own chain stores and I doubt they would do anyway. BTech never actually died due to a company going out of business, it just jumped between a couple of different companies with a slower release sched than others would have liked. It has since taken that production into overdrive the past few years thanks to Catalyst's involvement and (it seems) Topps' happiness to let them do what they want. The only thing that could/might kill BTech is now what happens with Topps. If they sell the rights to someone else, then it's anyone's guess as to what happens next. As it stands, when Topps put them up for sale, the interest in the BTech and Shadowrun properties was so high that Topps decided to withdraw them from sale and hold onto them, re-licensing it to Catalyst rather than just selling it outright.
And that's the short short version.