Both Fantasy Flight Games and Stronghold Games have announced that they’ve licensed the rights to reprint the 1980s Avalon Hill game Merchant of Venus. Stronghold announced a license from designer Richard Hamblen, and that its release will be titled Richard Hamblen’s Merchant of Venus. FFG announced a license from Avalon Hill parent Wizards of the Coast, and that its March 2012 release will be titled Merchant of Venus.
Stronghold believes the license is Hamblen’s to give. “Stronghold Games feels very strongly that the license is solely Mr. Hamblen’s to offer, and he has selected Stronghold Games for the reprint,” a statement from the company said.
FFG signed its license with WotC/Hasbro over a year ago, according to the company, and has been working on republishing the title since. FFG’s info on its release implies that some rule changes have been made in its edition. “We’ve been working hard to produce what will be a fantastic edition of Merchant of Venus, one that remains true to tis magnificently campy core, while expanding the game in surprising ways that will cause even the most hardcore fan to celebrate.”
It would seem that the nature of the Avalon Hill rights to the game is the key issue on which this dispute will turn: does Avalon Hill still have publishing rights to Merchant of Venus, or have they reverted to designer Hamblen?