WizKids Titles Pulled from Origins Ballot
Selection Process Being Revised
Published: 06/24/2012, Last Updated: 06/25/2012 01:18am
WizKids asked that two of its titles, Giant-Size X-Men HeroClix and Street Fighter Starter Set, be removed from the 2011 Origins ballot before voting took place at the recently completed Origins Game Fair (see "2012 Annual Origins Award Winners"), and their wishes were honored by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, which runs the awards. The removal took place between when nominations were selected by retailers at the GAMA Trade Show in Las Vegas in February (see "Origins Awards Nominees") and the final vote at Origins Game Fair.
WizKids President Justin Ziran confirmed that his company had made the request. "We asked to have our games removed from the 2012 Origins Award ballot," he said. "We understand that GAMA is reviewing the standard operating procedures for the 2013 Origins Awards and we look forward to reviewing the go forward plan."
We spoke to the Keith Blume, new head of the Academy (which reports to the GAMA Board of Directors), about the situation and he stressed that he hopes to make changes to the procesedures used for the Origins Awards. "As I’m taking over the Origins Awards there are a lot of changes I want to make, including the evaluation and submissions process," he said. "The WizKids situation is an example of that not working."
The process of submissions, as Blume explained it, is that publishers submit their games for consideration. The documentation for those submissions goes through the GAMA office, and this year, for the first time, the physical products sent for the jury to examine were sent to FRED Distribution to be distributed to the jury. In prior years, the GAMA office had handled both processes. The transition was a rocky one. Some publishers continued to send their products to the GAMA offices as they had in the past, others sent their products to FRED Distribution, and "...it became a quagmire trying to get everything where it was supposed to go," according to Blume. The process involves over 200 different products going to over 80 different jurors. Some deadlines were extended to allow products under consideration to move to the jury.
The WizKids situation reflected an attempt to compensate for distribution problems on their products, according to Blume. The jury did not receive their products prior to the selection of titles to go onto the ballot that was provided to retailers at GAMA Trade Show, so they did not appear on the initial nomination list. After the retailer portion of the process, the jury was asked whether they would have included the WizKids products had they seen them before they selected titles for the retailer ballot and they said they would have. As a result, initially the WizKids products were to be added to the final ballot, which Origins Game Fair attendees vote on at the annual show. But WizKids asked that their titles be removed so that there could be no question that the process was fair to all submitting publishers.
"This year’s process was fair but flawed," Blume said. He is working on new procedures to be presented to the GAMA Board of Directors (on which he is an at-large member) and voted on before Gen Con. In addition to refining the process for matching the documents and products submitted for consideration, Blume proposed to allow members of the jury to put any games that they’ve seen onto the ballot for retailers, not just games that are submitted. This will broaden the games that can be nominated. "Had we had this rule in place, the WizKids games probably would have made the ballot," Blume said.
Under the proposed new procedure, "As a publisher, you can ensure your game gets played by the jury by submitting products," he explained. "But if it’s a great game and the jurors have seen it, it may get considered anyway." Publishers will continue to be allowed to request that their games not be included on the ballot.
"The process has some things we want to fix and what happened this last year puts a lot of those under the microscope," Blume said. "I want the awards to be as inclusive as possible, and I think the approach I’m going to suggest does that." The goal is to make any changes prior to the beginning of the process for the 2012 awards.
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