Paradox Interactive, publisher of PC games like Pillars of Eternity and Crusader Kings, announced today that they've purchased White Wolf Publishing. This means that they now own the World of Darkness franchise, which includes Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and other supernatural horror role-playing games.
White Wolf Publishing will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Paradox and "pursue development opportunities across relevant categories of games." The statement from White Wolf CEO Tobias Sjögren today seems to imply that video games are part of those future plans:
Over the last 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with beloved studios like DICE and Paradox on the business management side of games, and as a developer earlier in my career. I look forward to bringing my experience to bear as we pursue new ways to interact with White Wolf’s universes. The White Wolf IPs are well suited for all kinds of media and we see great potential to expand them in the future.
World of Darkness depicts a world in which supernatural beings live among us. While many humans are just fodder in the war between these beings, some are powerful mages or hunters. Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Awakening are the three core pen-and-paper games. They're supplemented by limited edition games that let players become changelings, demons and other supernatural characters.
While World of Darkness primarily exists as a pen-and-paper RPG franchise, there have been a few video games. Vampire: The Masquerade inspired the solid Redemption and stellar Bloodlines. There were also two pretty mediocre action RPGs based on Hunter. It's been about a decade since we've seen a new WoD video game, though.
EVE Online developer CCP Games actually tried to make a World of Darkness MMO. They merged with White Wolf in 2006 and worked on the ambitious project for several years. Details were always slim but the game was said to have a political system so players could get voted to positions of power.
The MMO was initially scheduled for a 2010 launch but suffered numerous delays. In 2011, CCP decided to lay off a sizable chunk of the game's development team so they could refocus on EVE and its sister shooter DUST 514. The company then cancelled the World of Darkness MMO altogether two years later. CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursso said at the time that they would "make it up" to fans:
To our current and former employees and fans of World of Darkness, I am truly sorry that we could not deliver the experience that we aspired to make. We dreamed of a game that would transport you completely into the sweeping fantasy of World of Darkness, but had to admit that our efforts were falling regretfully short. One day I hope we will make it up to you.
CCP never pursued any other World of Darkness games, though. They even barred a fan remake of Bloodlines for some reason. I'm glad that they finally handed the franchise off to a company willing to expand it. So many great series have collected dust because their owners are unwilling to make new games and unwilling to let someone else do the same. It's great to see a publisher recognize that no one benefits from that type of situation.