NOTE: Ian Watson from OPP was nice enough to swing by and weigh in on a few items – revisions have since been made to correct a few dates and to clarify other items.
Much to many White Wolf fans’ dismay, White Wolf Game Studio was purchased by an Icelandic organization, CCP in 2006. Since their purchase, CCP has kept the White Wolf RPG lines alive, but they didn’t do all that much to move their pen and paper endeavors towards anything big, favoring instead a long process of development hell for the properties’ conversion into the MMORPG market. And for CCP that made sense. Most people know them better for their starring product, Eve Online, and CCP’s interests lie firmly in what they know.
White Wolf RPG releases became fewer and further between as the years went on, and physical book production all but stopped as the market slowed. Rpg.drivethrustuff.com came through in the clutch in a partnership, allowing for most of the back product catalog to be maintained in PDF format, and some even managed to get Print-On-Demand services for new products rolled out for them as well, notably kickstarted products like the V20 Anniversary release. But, it seemed that White Wolf was guttering out and dying quietly. Little was shown on new release plans at the company’s main site for months, then quarters, then years.
However, in 2012 there was an announcement – newcomer Onyx Path Publishing was going to be picking up the White Wolf brand and pumping new life into it. A new site was created for Onyx Path and suddenly there were updates on products and even a few new ones kicking around in a new release schedule. Just recently, they made an appearance at GenCon, and along with it came their newest, more ambitious release schedule.
It would seem they’re poised to really make a comeback. While CCP still maintains intellectual property rights, the Onyx Path will be releasing World of Darkness and Exalted products in a licensed arrangement that looks much akin to the relationship that Fantasy Flight Games has with Games Workshop. If it’s anything near as successful as the Warhammer 40K universes translation into Pen and Paper RPGs was, Onyx Path could be on the roadmap to success.
Additionally, CCP sold a few properties outright to Onyx Path, giving them full ownership to carry on with production as they saw fit. The notables in this case were the Trinity universe (containing the Adventure, Aberrant and Trinity games) as well as the wildly successful but short-lived Scion game line. It’s also freed Onyx Path to work on 20th Anniversary projects for the old World of Darkness, which has been well received on the internet. Many White Wolf adherents had long lamented the conversion from the old Storyteller system designed by Mark Rein-Hagen to the newer, updated version, and this seems to be breathing new life into the well-regarded original series as well. As a result OPP has made a profitable jump into supplements for the 20th Anniversary lines. V20 has already pushed out a V20 Companion, a revamp of the Ashes to Ashes campaign, as well as the fan favorite Hunter’s Hunted. That’s before they even get to the upcoming Anarchs Unbound title. Likewise, Skinchangers and the W20 have emerged for Werewolf, and the Technocracy Convention Books for Mage: the Ascension, cut short in 2002, have been releasing at the pace of one every two months before the M20 edition can be released.
If the past activity of the Path hasn’t shown anything, one need only look at the release schedule to see that the former White Wolf empire may be poised to revitalize itself. Only time will tell of course, but if White Wolf had anything in the past, it was brand loyalty. And it looks like they’re set to take maximum advantage of that in the months to come.