The deeper change behind Asmodee Digital’s rebranding

Asmodee Digital, the longtime provider of digital board game adaptations, has had something of a revamp.

The most obvious example is its recent name change, with the company announcing that as of last month it now operates as Twin Sails Interactive. Less than a week after the unveiling of the new brand, we caught up with Gamescom’s General Manager Nicolas Godement, who told us the name was “the face of a deeper change that’s been going on for about 18 months.”

“As Asmodee Digital, we were known for digital board game conversions, primarily on mobile and PC,” he says. “Over the past year or two, we’ve expanded our lineup of titles to games that are just games – all-new, third-party, indie, AA video games, so not just digital board games. That’s something which we did for strategic reasons, and we wanted a name that both expresses the fact that we have introduced a wider range of games, but also speaks to our values ​​and who we already are.”

The new Twin Sails Interactive logo

Godement says the two ships represented by the Twin Sails logo can be seen as the publisher and its development partners venturing together, adding that the hobby of sailing “evokes notions of unity, passion and maybe a little adventure,” which he cites as company values.

While Asmodee Digital has undeniably carved out a place for itself in the tabletop gaming space, much like its parent of the same name, it’s also true that the games division has diversified, bringing in strategy and turn-based titles. per turn like Terraforming Mars and Gloomhaven in the market. . Twin Sails aims to go further.

Along with the rebranding announcement, the publisher unveiled two new titles: Studio Nul News’ tycoon management game Tower and Lumorama’s 2D physics-based platformer Amberial Dreams. The latter in particular represents a significant departure for the Twin Sails team, bringing the company into a more traditional video game space where titles rely on action and antics faster than the relatively relaxing mechanics of board games. . A quick look at the company’s lineup trailer shows there’s still more variety to come, with titles like top-down action game Ember Nights (pictured above) and the Dark Envoy RPG adventure.

Godement says bringing different types of games to market will build on the skills he and his team have developed as Asmodee Digital, where he says the company has essentially built what he calls a ” publishing engine”.

“We don’t have in-house developers, but we have a lot of producers, brand managers, PR people, etc.,” he says. “We don’t think it should be limited to one genre. It’s very different from development – I was a developer before and I think it’s good for developers to specialize in one genre. [to] build up know-how. But for a publisher, we think it’s a bit different, so we thought broadening our horizons to different genres was a way to optimize how we use that publishing engine, that team, and work on games. which perhaps speak to more players.

Nicolas Godemont, Twin Sails Interactive

“It’s also a way to bring new content into Asmodee that wouldn’t otherwise be part of our company, as well as reach new players that we wouldn’t usually reach.”

There is another important factor behind this change; in December 2021, Twin Sails’ parent company Asmodee was acquired by Embracer for €2.75 billion.

“Suddenly, video games were much more important to Asmodee than they had ever been,” Godement explains. “It’s not that they weren’t important before, but suddenly it’s super important for us to understand video games, to have a presence, to do business in this space.”

That’s not to say that Embracer took Asmodee and its video game division away from its roots. On the contrary, Godement asserts that the company has as much freedom as it had before the acquisition.

“The things you hear on Embracer, how indifferent but supportive they are — that’s exactly it,” he says. “For us, it doesn’t create any form of day-to-day constraint, other than financial reporting for the markets. So if you ask the finance team, you might get a different answer, but if you ask no anyone on the game team, there is no holding back and plenty of opportunity.

“Suddenly we have access to a network of tens of thousands of game professionals that we can share information and best practices with. We can do projects together – we’ve already announced that Saber is going to port Gloomhaven to consoles – so How awesome is it to have such great company on our game? [It’s] lots of opportunities and no constraints.”

Naturally, Embracer ownership also opens up access to a host of popular intellectual properties. Asmodee has already done well in this regard when it comes to the table, but Embracer has taken over successful game franchises for years – in its latest wave of acquisitions it bought Midde-Earth Enterprises and with him the rights to JRR Tolkien’s famous fantasy series.

“Maybe we’ll get the chance to work on that at some point,” says Godement. “We already have a Lord of the Rings game in our portfolio, but maybe we could have another.”

“Suddenly, video games were much more important to Asmodee than they had ever been”

With any brand change comes the need to re-educate. Asmodee has established itself as a household name in the tabletop market, both physically and digitally, but Twin Sails is arguably a name as wide as its wallet, so it can be difficult for gamers to know what s ‘expect. Godement, however, remains optimistic.

“Being able to announce ahead of Gamescom and meet with partners and potential partners here, I feel like this transition will actually be quite quick,” he says. “We don’t hide that we are Asmodee, we are proud to be part of Asmodee, it’s a fantastic company. So in terms of branding and visibility, I don’t think we encounter too many challenges.

“The challenge is more about moving your business model from one specific genre to multiple genres, supporting games that are already in development and you release them. This is no longer new to us, we’ve been doing this for 18 months, but initially, yeah, learning how to select those games, building the process, it was a lot of work. It still is.”

The Twin Sails team is around 30 strong, so Godement is keen to walk ahead of the newly renamed publisher launching, estimating the company will be limited to three to five games launching per year.

“We want to do quality work, we want to evolve gradually,” he explains. “If in ten years we have 500 people, of course we’ll release more games. Or maybe we won’t, we’ll just release bigger games.”

As for what the publisher is looking for, Godement says Twin Sails will focus on premium console, PC, and mobile games that are “midsize, high-end for AA.” The team is also keen on finding experiences with lots of replay value that get players started every day, and titles with innovative game design.

“There are things we wouldn’t do, like survival horror,” he continues. “It’s very hardcore, very tough – we have nothing against it, it’s just not something we’re comfortable with as a company. Or sims that are very realistic, great hard to do and super hard to understand – I don’t think we would go there.

“It’s mostly a team thing. We like teams that are receptive to the way we work, that are aware that we can disrupt the development process, but in the end you’ll have a better game.”

Finally, he emphasizes that the connection to the board game remains very open. Although Twin Sails does not handle it directly, it is possible that particularly successful games will get the tabletop treatment from Asmodee in the future.

“Even before the Embracer acquisition, one of our studios – Fantasy Flight Games – has always been known for bringing video game brands into board games, like Fallout, Civilization and XCOM. So that’s something something we’ve always done, and now that we’re part of Embracer, it’s probably something everyone wants to do more of.”

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