Christian Petersen, the CEO of Fantasy Flight Games, read Bill Bodden's recent review of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (see "Review of 'Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay'") and strongly takes issue with it:
I couldn't help but flinch at Bill Bodden's review of our upcoming WFRP 3rd Edition game. It's always disappointing when it's painfully obvious that a reviewer hasn't thoroughly played the game in question, if at all. As we sent Bill the WFRP review copy from our offices late last week, I am aware of how few days he's actually had received the game (it was left on his porch late last Friday). There is no way that he could have digested the game properly in that short of a time (this is a huge game). Instead he glances at the components and pays the bills (pun intended) by simply regurgitating concerns of online dissenters that have yet to play this controversial new take on the RPG genre. In fact, Bill's review read similar to some WFRP 2nd Edition die-hards that had seen the WFRP components in our glass case at Gen Con--many of whom have changed their minds to positive after actually playing WFRP3.
As FFG was keenly aware, that the innovative new direction we are taking role-playing, manifest in WFRP3, would garner controversy and "glass case opinions" such as this review, FFG sent out over 400 demo copies to retailers worldwide in our "Emperor's Decree" event. The Emperor's Decree took place about 10 days ago (and continues as this is written in other countries). We wanted gamers to actually play the game instead of
speculating, we wanted them to see how amazing the system as a basis for fun and storytelling, really is.
The response to the Emperor's Decree event has simply been astoundingly positive, as the dozens and dozens of glowing play-sessions reports can testament. FFG is currently sold out of the first wave of the game (which hit retailers 11/25), and excitement is about as high as for any FFG release in our history.
With WFRP3, FFG is truly seeking to take role-playing into a new innovative direction, seeking to re-ignite a market segment that is otherwise in dramatic decline. On the issue of cost, we have great retailers that sell CCG players $100+ on boxes (sometimes multiple boxes) up to four times a year. Such retailers know that the gaming audience is willing to pay for great gaming experiences. For the past 12 years, I've made a living of selling big box quality games, and I'm completely confident in saying that the content of the WFRP3 box represents one of the best values that FFG has ever created, both in terms of gameplay, component wealth, and writing. In fact, the WFRP core set will support up to 4 players (including the GM). And at a price comparable with the three D&D4E core book (which in practice will only support one player), WFRP3 provides everything those players need to play out of the box (even dice, and lots of them!).
I'm disappointed that Bill fails to disclose his employment with Green Ronin, not only a competing RPG publisher, but the publisher that created WFRP 2nd Edition, the system that WFRP3 replaces. Bill should also have disclosed that he applied to do writing on WFRP3, but was turned down by our RPG editor. I guess the notion of "conflict of interest" was discarded into the same heap where " games reviewed should actually be played" lies. From a professional website such as ICv2, I would have expected far better disclosure.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Bill Bodden, a regular game reviewer for ICv2, was a writer for the previous edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay both when it was published by Games Workshop (through Green Ronin, which wrote the RPG for Games Workshop), and for Fantasy Flight Games. We view those experiences as great qualifications to review the new edition.
Bodden says that it's not true that he applied to Fantasy Flight Games to write for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition, and was rejected. In fact, he says that the last time he discussed doing additional work for WHFRP 2nd Edition with Fantasy Flight, he was asked to submit a proposal for additional work, which he did not do. Bodden says that he was not even aware that FFG was preparing a 3rd edition of WHFRP until fairly recently (the new version was announced and displayed at Gen Con, see "Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition").
As to whether Bodden's relationships with the previous versions of WHFRP should have been disclosed, yes, it would have been better had that information been included with the review, and we'll be more careful to include that kind of background information in the future. In fact, it would probably also be a good idea to include "reviewer blurbs," giving background on the reviewer, in the reviews we publish on ICv2.com as we do in the magazine to help give more context for our reviewers' opinions.
With regard to the content of the review, we'll grant that there's less in the review about gameplay than in most game reviews we run (mostly by the same writer as this one), but we do find the review to be a generally good summation of the reactions some will have to the game. In general we've given our reviewers considerable latitude as long as they include an assessment of the potential popularity of the product, which this review did. But it's worth our consideration whether to require greater emphasis on gameplay in our game reviews, and we will do that.
FFG CEO Petersen is certainly entitled to his opinion of Bodden's review, and we welcome his impassioned defense of his company's product here. Opinions will differ, and the more the merrier. Petersen's comments on disclosure are generally fair and as noted above, we'll be changing some of our policies in the future. His comments were included here verbatim in the interest of fully disclosing and addressing his concerns.
But we feel it's also important to communicate one of our own opinions, related to tone and mutual respect: we don't feel that a discussion is advanced when the speaker is attacked, rather than focusing on what's said. Smart people of good intent will have opinions that vary, and we feel that disagreements over those opinions should be left at that.
--Milton Griepp, ICv2 Editor and Publisher