Monday, November 2, 2015

Closing The Books On World Of Darkness

A lot of people wrote off and forgot a game that never was, World of Darkness, when CCP announced the end of development of the vampire MMO on 14 April 2014. But much like sovereignty warfare in the Dominion era, some cleanup still needed to occur even though the action had ended. On Thursday, Paradox Interactive published the following press release:
"STOCKHOLM - Oct. 29, 2015 - Paradox Interactive, a global games developer and publisher, today announced the acquisition of White Wolf Publishing from CCP Games in an all-cash deal. Now a subsidiary of Paradox Interactive, White Wolf Publishing is a licensing business that owns and manages intellectual properties including World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Led by CEO Tobias Sjögren, former EVP of Business Development at Paradox, White Wolf Publishing will operate as an independent entity with a dedicated team.

"White Wolf Publishing has a long history of producing gaming universes that span mediums, including tabletop and collectible card games, PC games and books. Paradox Interactive acquired all of White Wolf’s brands, and its new subsidiary will pursue development opportunities across relevant categories of games under the White Wolf Publishing name.

"'Like Paradox’s games, White Wolf’s properties have dedicated, passionate communities. While there are similarities in spirit, White Wolf’s IPs have very different themes than Paradox’s titles, and deserve their own brand and team,' said Fredrik Wester, CEO and President of Paradox Interactive. 'We have great respect for White Wolf’s gaming worlds and see big opportunities for their expansion in the future under our new subsidiary.'

"'Over the last 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with beloved studios like DICE and Paradox on the business management side of games, and as a developer earlier in my career. I look forward to bringing my experience to bear as we pursue new ways to interact with White Wolf’s universes,' said Tobias Sjögren, CEO of White Wolf Publishing. 'The White Wolf IPs are well suited for all kinds of media and we see great potential to expand them in the future.'

"'At CCP, we have great admiration for the White Wolf brands and communities, and it was extremely important to us that the acquiring company share the same respect and understanding,' said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games. 'With Paradox, we know we are leaving the brands in good hands.'"
A couple of thoughts. First, I'm glad to see that the World of Darkness IP will not languish in someone's desk. I realize that pen and paper role playing games can stick around long after the publisher stops development, but I like the fact that a dedicated group of players will hopefully receive support in the future.

The second thought is that those looking at CCP's financial report next year won't see a huge increase in profits. CCP is upgrading Tranquility, the live shard that all players outside of the People's Republic of China play on, and I expect the sale of White Wolf to Paradox to cover the cost of the new server hardware. For years, many EVE players decried CCP's leadership for diverting funds from EVE to pay for the development of World of Darkness. Now, the sale of White Wolf is possibly defraying the costs of upgrading Tranquility.

Since the beginning of 2015 when CCP hired former LazyTown CFO Sigurd Stefánsson as its new chief financial officer, the Icelandic game company has shied away from making large, long-term financial commitments. In April, CCP bought back $20 million USD in convertible bonds, thus eliminating a potential financial crisis in July 2016 similar to the one in October 2011 that resulted in a layoff of 20% of CCP's workforce. I like the thought that CCP is not borrowing against future profits in order to upgrade EVE Online's present.

Of course, the sale of White Wolf leaves one last detail to resolve. What happens to the CCP employees still working in the Atlanta office? Were they co-located with White Wolf or did they have their own office? I would hazard to guess the former. If so, do they move to Iceland or stay in the U.S.? Or do we see another well-known employee leave CCP?

Update: Apparently CCP is keeping an office in Atlanta, so the current 15 employees will not have to move.

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