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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2017 - What will it bring for us gamers? Part 2: Hawk Wargames

Whatever your opinion of 2016 in other ways, it was a pretty good year in gaming. The hobby as a whole is growing at around 30% where most industries can hope for about 10% of that. We saw the arrival of some major new franchises like Dropfleet Commander and GW seem to be organising themselves in a slightly better way in many areas, despite still carrying on with Age of Sigmar (!). The rise of the board game strengthened more than ever, and there were a lot of great Kickstarter projects that were announced/launched and sometimes fulfilled. Not a bad time at all to be a gamer.

After looking over the Man Battlestations Blog, I thought it might be fun to do a similar predictive series of posts here over the coming days. So, what do I think is on the horizon for 2017?

Hawk Wargames

Hawk had a tremendously successful Kickstarter with Dropfleet Commander. It had a lower target than SGs recent DW campaign (£40k vs £50k), yet found almost 4,000 backers to fund it by a massive 1570%. Hawk struggled to fulfil in time, and is still sending pledges out now. It has also come under criticism for supplying retail outlets before fulfilling Kickstarter backers, though personally I completely understand why it did this - because it will have commercial agreements which are largely independent of any KS-funded project, and these relationships are more important collectively than any individual backer - no matter how unpalatable that might seem, it's a cold hard business fact. The alternative would have been to delay commercial release and piss off its distribution channels....

Anyway, Dropfleet happened and DZC continues, born along by Hawk's team and understanding of how to grow and support its community. That reputation will have taken a blow through the Kickstarter experience of many, but I don't think this will affect Hawk in the long run. Why? Especially as I've been so harsh on Spartan for similar delays in supply over the past year. 

Well, admittedly I don't have the "behind the scenes" view on Hawk that I did on SG, but just look at how Dave created Hawk and DZC in the first instance. The game was planned meticulously, beautifully produced and developed with the community and tournaments in mind. They stick to production schedules and give customers advance release notices - in short they set expectations within their grasp and fulfil them. They have released 2 games in their existence, both of which were produced in the same sort of polished manner. I get the delays piss people off, but let's be realistic, how many Kickstarters that have funded over 1000% delivered on time? Anyone ever been involved in a project which had 15 times the demand originally expected? Given that' they've performed ok I think.

Hawk are involved with and communicate to their supporters about 1500% more than SG do too, at least. They're still a small company too, but I think Dave fundamentally grasps what makes gamers tick and tries to scratch that itch - it's more about nice models and mechanics that were innovative in 2009. Look at their background development - there's more fluff in DFC from the start than exists in FA in 7 years of development!

So what do I think Hawk will do in 2017? They'll sort out their fulfilment issues and fill out their factions for DFC - battlecruisers and corvettes, shiny space stations and more. they'll work on shows and developing their community, and also making conjoined campaigns - I think that DZC will also benefit from the adoption of DFC. I'm seriously considering going back and looking at it since buying DFC, despite my lacklustre feeling about the 2-player set for DZC that Hawk brought out a few years back. I also think that they'll toy with developing a deep-space combat version of DFC, though I don't think that will happen this year - they might wait until BFG and FA show their hands first, and decide if they should or shouldn't thereafter. You get the feeling that decisions like this are thought about long and hard at Hawk, and then planned properly before implementation.

So I think Hawk will do well because they are growing from an established core base in a methodical and pre-planned way. Yes, DFC was more popular than they expected, but what a problem to have! Given that there have been a ton of people jump on board AFTER the KS, like Oscar and me, by going directly to retail I think they have a very rosy future ahead, and I think they'll do that with a steady and throughly planned release schedule in 2017. I must say I'm looking forward to it...