Mongoose, Babylon 5 and Licensed Games

Mongoose publications, holders of the Traveller (T5) licence and many others have release the State of the Mongoose 2008. Very interesting reading, particular their decision to mothball miniature production, and a great piece of communications by the company.

One area interests me in particular, especially in light of our recent Spaceships & Swords poll on favourite genres. Mongoose are very big on licensed products, Babylon 5, Conan, Elric of Melnibone, Hawkmoon and Lonewolf, and with their take over by Revolution Games, this is set to expand. As a business strategy it makes sense. They captalise on people’s awareness of the brand to generate sales of RPG products. As long as the cost of the licence is low enough and the sales of the games high enough, it is an easy way to grab market share.

Last week’s poll included the question “What is your favourite genre of roleplaying game” and one of the options was “Specific Book / TV / Film Tie-in”. Not one single person ticked that box. This matches my own feelings that books & films make great books & films but poor RPG settings. It is possible that it is the quality of the game that is the factor here, but I never found a tie-in game as good as the source material. When I’ve played tie-ins where I haven’t read or seen the source material, the games have seemed particularly poor. Tie-in writers seem to think that the joy of playing in that particular universe is enough so they don’t need to bother actually making the game playable.

Coincidently, Mongoose are dropping their Babylon 5 products. No doubt related to the fact that B5 is over ten years old and it is old-hat. Battlestar Galatica is the new Babylon 5. Maybe if the B5 game and universe were strong enough as an RPG setting it would continue, or maybe if Mongoose did not have to pay for the licence, the sales would be enough. As it is, Babylon 5 joins a long list of tie-in products that have come and gone.

One comment

  1. I agree on licenses, in general (I actually covered this on my blog yesterday). It seems to me that Mongoose is a glutton for licenses, and many of them are not particularly well-done. I’ve heard B5 was decent, and Traveller was a pleasant surprise, but a cool show or movie alone does not make a good RPG (maybe that’s why Traveller worked out well). And their format for paying folks not much to turn out ridiculous amounts of material a month doesn’t help, either.

    Zachary´s last blog post..Mongoose: Industry, Traveller, 4e, and Gygax (?)

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