News Digest: Asmodee Up for Sale?! New Zombie Orpheus Stream, Digital Board Game Company Banned from Steam, and more!
  • News Digest: Asmodee Up for Sale?! New Zombie Orpheus Stream, Digital Board Game Company Banned from Steam, and more!


    Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Asmodee may be up for sale, art preview from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Zombie Orpheus launching a new live stream, and more!

    Asmodee Group hired a group of investment bankers to run a sale process, according to reports from Reuters. Valuation of the company is reported at “over 1.5 billion euros” (about US$1.7 billion). Any sale would have potential wide-reaching implications for the tabletop game industry as Asmodee has been on an acquisition spree over the past several years, purchasing board, card, and roleplaying companies such as Fantasy Flight Games, Z-Man Games, Days of Wonder, Catan Studio, Plaid Hat Games, and many others. So far, these companies have been mostly left to their own devices when it comes to management and creative choices, but an ownership change may alter that arrangement. In addition, with news of multiple retail chains entering bankruptcy or outright closing such as Toys R Us, a sale may also put the company at risk of a leveraged buyout (where financial firms take out loans to purchase a company, then transfer the debt incurred to the company they just purchased for the company to pay off). Reuters did not identify their sources “because the deliberations are confidential”, and neither Eurazeo (current owner of Asmodee Group) nor Asmodee itself has commented.


    Wizards of the Coast finally revealed several images from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, which (based on descriptions) seem to be the preview images shown at the GAMA Trade Show but embargoed since March. The images appear to be a combination of finished art and concept sketches, which may or may not represent how they will appear in the final book. One image of a one-eyed jeweled demon statue dropping its flaming brazier will be familiar to many, while other images include Eladrin, Giff, Abashai, Marut, Drow Matron Mother, and more. Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes has an official release date of May 29 through major market outlets, with game stores and hobbyist channels releasing on May 18 with an exclusive alternate cover.


    Zombie Orpheus launched their own Twitch channel in anticipation of taking over production on the popular gaming streams Death From Above and Masters of the Metaverse. The popular Twitch streams, formerly on HyperRPG, will begin production from the new Zombie Orpheus studio space starting soon with simultaneous broadcasts on ZOE’s YouTube page and their own homepage. Masters of the Metaverse is a roleplaying stream using a modified Tri-Stat dX system where each player has control of two characters (the pilot and the avatar) which share knowledge and skills between each other, similar to the format of The Gamers and other ZOE productions. Death From Above is a campaign-focused BattleTech tabletop game with roleplaying elements. HyperRPG gave production of the shows to Zombie Orpheus, who had been co-producing them with the Twitch channel, after the decision to move the HyperRPG operations solely out of Los Angeles. ZOE is running a one-shot Demon Hunters stream this Saturday, May 12 starting at 1 PM Pacific to debut the new studio. Disclosure: The author of this column has performed paid worked for Zombie Orpheus in a freelance capacity in the past.


    Acram Digital, a video game company focusing on digital versions of board games, has been banned from Steam with all their games removed from the online retailer. The action was taken after an employee posted multiple positive reviews of Acram titles from different fake accounts. The employee, Grzegorz Kubas, claimed he was “very frustrated” with a few negative reviews and used six fake accounts to purchase copies of Acram games to give them positive reviews. Anyone who has previously purchased the Acram Games Steam: Eight Minute Empire or Steam: Rails to Riches will still have access to the content, but the store pages will be removed. Kubas has apologized for his actions, stating “This is my individual, bad behavior, not the team, so I would like to blame me, not the devs.” Acram stated they have contacted Valve to re-establish their access. Acram still lists Steam availability on their website, including for the upcoming version of Istanbul, but the links redirect to the Steam frontpage.


    Z-Man Games has acquired the social deduction game Love Letter from Alderac Entertainment Group. The game, designed by Seiji Kanai, became popular for its small size and fast-playing nature. From John Zinser, CEO of AEG:

    “Love Letter and Lovecraft Letter have been a pure joy to develop and share with our customers. We would like to thank Seiji Kanai and our partners at Japon Brand for entrusting us with the smallest but most valuable of treasures. Our friends at Asmodee have the capability to take Love Letter and Lovecraft Letter to even greater heights and we are excited to watch the games make this transition. We are sure that everyone who has sought the favor of the Princess will be delighted with Asmodee’s stewardship of these great games.”

    From Steve Kimball, Head of Studio at Z-Man Games:

    “We are thrilled to have Love Letter join Z-Man’s diverse catalog. This gem of a card game packs a lot of fun in a tiny box (or velvet bag) and fits perfectly with the many other acclaimed card games that have been a hallmark of the Z-Man brand. I'm excited to work closely with Seiji Kanai to help Love Letter reach new audiences and realize its full potential.”

    While licensed versions have been produced (including a Batman variant exclusive to a Tabletop Day promotion and a version themed around the animated series Archer), Z-Man will only be producing at this time Love Letter, Love Letter Premium, and Lovecraft Letter (though I’d expect licensed versions of other properties to follow soon).


    Humble Bundle’s Spring Sale has started. The sale features over 3500 games discounted and chances to get free games. The Flame in the Flood is available for free right now until May 12 (and if Humble’s pattern continues, more games will be free after that) Also, each day you can earn stamps for additional promotions for every day you visit the Humble Store and another for every $5 you spend. With the first stamp, you get 10% off your Humble Monthly subscription (the early unlock this month is Destiny 2) and 7% off of Frostpunk. The third stamp gets you a free copy of Millenium: A New Hope and the fifth gets a free copy of Whispering Willows. Games on sale include tabletop licensed titles like Pathfinder Adventures, the Shadowrun Chronicles series, Warhammer 40K games from Sega, The Dark Eye series and many others. The sale runs until May 24 and a portion of the proceeds from sales using the affiliate link above will go to Worldbuilders.


    Hellboy: The Board Game is a cooperative game for 1-4 players licensed from the Mike Mignola comics where each player takes on the role of a member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Pick between Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, Johann Kraus, and more unlocked via stretch goals to battle the forces of darkness to defend the world. The game features over a hundred unpainted miniatures including terrain (many perfect to pilfer for RPG use). The only back level is for the base game and all expansions package is available for a £95 (about US$129) pledge, with an additional level for retailers. This project is fully funded and runs until Friday, May 25.

    Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar for Savage Worlds is getting an update with the new Lankhmar: Savage Seas of Nehwon from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. The setting book is PEG’s attempt to offer expanded content for the setting and is an experiment for other campaign setting sin the future. This book gives new character options, adventure generator, beasts, and more themed around the Sea of Stars and Rime Isle from the classic Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser novel series. The PDF is available for a $15 pledge, the softcover for $25, a set of all the Lankhmar books for Savage Worlds in print for $85, or a special boxed set with poster map, dice, and bennies for $99. This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until Wednesday, May 16.

    Ogre Miniatures Second Edition rulebook is available exclusively through Kickstarter as a 64-page book with all the rules needed to play. This is a great option if you just want to play the game with specific miniatures rather than purchasing the massive box set. However, there are options for that as well. The PDF is available for a $10 pledge, the print copy (plus die-cut templates and craters with record cards) for $35, the Battle Box set with everything needed to play for $110, and add the “Many Minis” bundle to that for $150. This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until Friday, May 25.

    That’s all from me for this week! Find more gaming crowdfunding news by following our Kickstarter news tag, and don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you more gaming news content. If you have any news to submit, email us at news@enworldnews.com. You can follow me on Twitter @Abstruse where nothing interesting at all happened this past weekend we’re all fine here it’s fine it’s fine we’re fine it’s fine, follow Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube featuring videos on gaming history and Let’s Plays, or you can listen to the archives of the Gamer’s Tavern podcast. Until next time, may all your hits be crits! Note: Links to Amazon, Humble Store, Humble Bundle, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. aramis erak's Avatar
      aramis erak -
      Given the licenses held by FFG, this AEG issue could get ugly...
    1. Koloth's Avatar
      Koloth -
      Sounds like the private equity firm,Eurazeo SE, that owns Asmode thinks that the value of the collection exceeds the price spent to acquire so sell and count the profits. It is what their business model is, earn money for the investors. The sad thing is the last buyers in such deals often have so much debt that they can't make the payments and have to declare bankruptcy. Think Toys-R-Us.
    1. Vanveen's Avatar
      Vanveen -
      Great thread(s) on Asmodee over at boardgamegeek. The smart money thinks that Eurazeo's play is to shop the company to someone who will develop branded IP in, e.g., movies and video games. It's also likely that many boardgames owned by the cartel, I mean company, will go permanently out of print while Asmodee focuses on a handful of hits. (The expired licenses, and likely profits, are too small for a company this size to care about. That includes the hassle of selling those rights to other producers.) Asmodee's minimum advertised pricing and its control of North American distribution (one exclusive distributor) are also likely to make games more expensive.
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