Alderac Entertainment Group has vowed to "publish fewer new games," according to CEO John Zinser in a blog post last week.  The company has gone from as many as 20 new game titles a year down to five or six by design in response to market conditions, Zinser wrote, which required a careful plan to manage cash flow and the changes in the company.

The environment for this change is the tough market for new games even as the total size of the market grows.  "It is a great time to be making games, maybe the best ever," Zinser wrote.  "[I]t is also the most challenging time to be making games that I can remember.” And that memory isn’t short, as his post was written in AEG’s 27th year.  "The bar to get noticed and have any kind of staying power is higher than it has ever been," he concludes.

Zinser expects more new games to be released in 2019 than in any previous year, and in the face of that deluge, AEG has decided "…that every game we decide to publish will be a game that we think has its best chance to succeed.  And rather than looking on to the next product, we are going to give every game its chance to find its place in the sun."  The plan is to produce fewer titles, with a focus on evergreen and expandable franchises.

To finance the transition to a smaller line, AEG has sold key game rights, including Love Letter to Z-Man Games last year (see "’Love Letter’ Passed to Z-Man Games").  It has also launched two games, Thunderstone Quest and Edge of Darkness, on Kickstarter, a step Zinser noted was "…something we would have never done seven years ago."

For 2019 and 2020, AEG is curating is releases "like never before," Zinser said; the company released only four key new release games in 2018 (Space Base, Warchest, Scorpius Freighter and Thunderstone Quest).  The smaller roster of new titles is also getting a bigger push.  "A major shift in philosophy like this means everyone at the company must buy into the idea of selling more copies of fewer titles," Zinser wrote.  "This means we need to do a better job of helping our partners help us."

Another change is turning the company’s Gen Con Big Game Night into a major marketing event that ties more completely into brick and mortar release.  This year, brick and mortar retailers will be able to sell the games introduced at Big Game Night at a pre-release the day before the Gen Con event (see "Alderac Reveals All Big Game Night Titles").

We keep waiting for individual decisions like Zinser’s to add up to a reduction in the total number of games being released into the market.  Perhaps 2019 will be the year that happens.