The 2013 ENnies nominations have been announced and voting is now open. I spoke with Chris Birch of Modiphius. Modiphius’ Achtung! Cthulhu – Zero Point – Three Kings has been nominated for a Best Adventure ENnie. It’s the first product released for Modiphius and the first adventure and product for the Achtung! Cthulhu line. Voting begins on Monday, July 22 and runs to Wednesday, July 31. The ceremony itself will be on Friday, August 16, in the Union Station Grand Hall at 8 pm with the cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 pm.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your company.
Chris Birch (CB): I founded Modiphius last year having spent 12 years working as the creative director of Joystick Junkies the t-shirt label, but having also taken time out to write the FATE based Starblazer Adventures and co-writing Legends of Anglerre with Sarah Newton. Modiphius has grown out of my passion to work with creative people to help bring new and exciting worlds to life, and inspire younger creative people to do the same. Our releases are being distributed by our print partner Chronicle City, the founder, Angus Abranson is partly guilty for me writing and publishing games!
MT: Have you had any other products nominated for ENnies in the past?
CB: Yes both Starblazer Adventures and Legends of Anglerre
MT: Why should voters vote for your product?
CB: I simple say Vote Cthulhu!* (*And he’ll leave you till last!) But seriously, we’re a small passionate friendly business that is working hard to reward the creative people involved in our games. I would really love to see them all benefit from this award (as much as our business will too). So if you love Call of Cthulhu and if you love World War Two then I think you should vote for us!
MT: How do you feel about the state of the gaming industry today?
CB: Kickstarter has fundamentally changed the industry, as it has our business Modiphius. There are growing numbers of new funded tabletop gaming companies with one or more successful Kickstarters under their wing who have the opportunity to do so much. I hope we will all be able to turn that first success in to a healthy business. What Kickstarter has shown is that there is plenty of money out there for great ideas that are well presented.
With all those projects there’s lots of work for all the freelance writers and artists, and there’s more noise being made about games in the press, so it’s really invigorating our industry and bringing new talent and creativity to the fore who might otherwise have been overlooked.
Retailers has suffered in the past years, much as other industries. In the t-shirt business, for example, there were once 500 independent stores in the UK and now there are only 100 and most of those only sell the big brands. Generally it was the stores who couldn’t get credit, who didn’t merchandise the product well, who weren’t creative with their store design and promotion that suffered. In the same way many gaming retailers have fallen by the wayside leaving the strongest and most innovative behind. The next step is to help the retailer’s work through the explosive changes and many kickstarters are finding innovative ways to support them. I think it’s key to understanding what they need. The fact that many Kickstarter projects never make it to retail by design or lack of resource shows that there is enough demand in our industry to fill the stores with product and pack Kickstarter full of new projects.
MT: How hard is it for a game publisher in this economy?
CB: Regardless of the growth in the industry it’s still hard work to grow a games publishing business. It’s not all dreaming up new worlds and designing monsters. It’s managing staff, tax issues, fulfillment and production. It’s a minefield of costly mistakes that can sink an unprepared business. Luckily the industry is somewhat insulated from the current economical problems as many people turn to home entertainment when things get bad. Whether this is true for the big game publishers who rely on volume sales is hard to tell.
MT: How has Kickstarter changed or influenced your business model, if at all?
CB: We plan to work with the fans of our core games to run Kickstarters to give them better quality products than we could afford to produce otherwise. Kickstarter let’s us expand the world, invest in product design and guarantee a line of products to support a game that we couldn’t possibly do on the same scale otherwise. Not every title can have a kickstarter though and we cannot rely on Kickstarter being around forever so of course we’re making sure we have great distributors and partners in place to deliver the line of products we’re creating to retail, who are as vital a part of the industry as ever.
MT: What’s next for your company?
CB: We’re currently playtesting the 3rd Edition of the Mutant Chronicles roleplaying game to launch at Christmas, and have some exciting licenses to announce for 2014!
MT: Will you be at Gen Con? Where?
DB: Yes we will be sharing a stand with Chronicle City #1751
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
CB: www.modiphius.com and www.facebook.com/modiphius and you can purchase the print books from www.chroniclecity.com.
MT: Anything else you’d like to share?
CB: We’re actively looking for writers and creators with exciting ideas for RPG’s, boardgames and card games, so please get in touch at http://www.modiphius.com/contact.html
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