Matt Forbeck, game designer extra-ordinaire, has posted images of his forth-coming Marvel Battle Dice game. There seems to be a trend of mainstreaming superhero miniatures games. On December 7th Cinerati mentioned the upcoming non-collectible Teen Titans game by Bandai and according to Forbeck the Marvel game should be releasing in January.
This news bodes both positive and negative for the "gamer" industry. The gamer industry is a small cross-section of the overall gaming industry. The broader gaming industry includes all kinds of board games and toys, everything from family games like Monopoly to specialty games like Warhammer. The gamer industry, on the other hand, is a niche market made up primarily of specialty games devoted to the comitted "gamer" rather than the casual player.
The expansion of what would typically be constituted as a specialty game, in this case a superhero miniatures game, into the mainstream market is a positive trend for gaming as a whole. Gamers are continually looking for new players to enjoy games with and the entry into the niche marketplace by mainstream gaming companies is a positive trend in this regard. It also provides a glimpse of a possible stable gaming future where games designed by talented specialty game designers are widely available. Fans of specialty games remember fondly the days when the full line of Dungeons and Dragons products were available at Toys R Us and this may signal a return to such popularity.
On the other hand, if the current specialty gaming companies who produce a wide array of excellent games are unable to gain access to mainstream retailers this may be a sign of a crisis in the industry. While many Number One has talked to are excited about the Matt Forbeck designed game, there are others who wonder what this will mean for the popular Heroclix game by Wizkids Games. Wizkids games is a current "gamer" company which has made a great deal of headway into the mainstream marketplace, especially with its Heroclix property. If the Battle Dice game fortells the loss of the "miniatures" license with Marvel for Wizkids, this could spell financial troubles ahead for the company. This could mean trouble for the industry as well, as Wizkids is one of the larger niche game companies. Wizkids is the perfect example of a corporation attempting to adapt and expand its role in the marketplace.
The primary concern of consumers isn't usually the health of any particular company, but the industry as a whole and thus the most important concern is product availabilty and quality design. As long as talented freelance designers like Matt Forbeck, who also works with Wizkids, are designing games the gaming industry has bright days ahead.