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From screen to tabletop scene: Why video game IP is big business for Jasco Games - ToyNews
With Capcom's Street Fighter the latest in video gaming IP to join the board gaming revolution, Licensing.biz talks to publisher Jasco Games about the allure of 80s and 90s pop-culture in today's table top gaming market.

From screen to the table top gaming scene, the trend for developing video gaming IP for the thriving board game sector is taking a hold on the current hobbyist market.

With titles such as Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda among the most recognisable to enter the fold in recent years, the expansive world of video games is quickly becoming a go-to source for manufacturers and independent publishers to bring pop-culture IP into the homes of millions.

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The latest independent board game publisher to tap this lucrative well is Jasco Games, a Las Vegas-based outfit that earlier this month took on the task of bringing Capcom’s iconic Street Fighter to the miniatures board game sector.

With a project that went live on the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter at the start of April, Street Fighter: The Miniatures Game punched through its target of £280,440 to hit £669,424 and counting. The success, while noteworthy, is far from an anomaly in an entertainment sector that is increasingly being looked towards by some of the biggest video game publishers - Capcom, Nintendo, Namco Bandai among them - as a new platform for their biggest selling properties.

Licensing.biz catches up with Jasco Games founder and co-developer of the Street Fighter Miniatures Board Game, Jason Hawronsky, to talk the rise in pop-culture consumer products, working with Capcom and the process of bringing iconic gaming and pop-culture IP to the table top gaming space.

Can you give us a bit of background on Jasco Games, how has business been over the past year?

I started Jasco Games in 1998 in Flower Mound, Texas. Originally, we were actually a brick and mortar games store that specialises in selling miniatures games and card games.

In January 2010, Jasco Games made the transition into publishing with our flagship game, The Universal Fighting System (UFS) and by 2014 we had moved to our new headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Over the last year, we have seen a definite ncrease in the number of physical gaming titles released from the pop-culture realm. There may be a few more than years past because there are so many more board game publishers than there were when we started.

Street Fighter is the latest Capcom IP to be developed into a table top game by Jasco, what attracts you to the Capcom portfolio in particular?

Capcom has been a fantastic partner since we started work with them on Mega Man and Darkstalkers. The team understands our vision for our games and appreciates the high quality products, like what we are bringing to the table top in Street Fighter.

Jasco Games does very well representing major brands, which is why we also work with several other licensing partners. I am an 80s and 90s kid that started working in this industry as a game store owner when I was 13. There was a special charm to those decades that drives us to do what we do and relive those memories.

There is a great allure to this era at the moment.

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Can you talk us through the process of translating video games to board games? What are the challenges in bringing IP as iconic as Street Fighter, Mega Man etc to the space?

We always start by focusing on what elements of the video games people must have in the board games and then identifying what elements board games have that add or change the video games.

Then, in the case of Street Fighter, we did over two years of play testing and rules development to make a game that feels like a perfect hybrid of table top gaming and Street Fighter.

How will you be translating Cowboy Bebop to the table top gaming space? Developing anime IP in the board gaming space appears relatively untapped, what is the drive behind the project?

We have included Cowboy Bebop in our Universal Fighting System CCG to start, which takes characters from dozens of universes and pits them against each other in card combat. Additionally we have designed and are in production of a fully cooperative Cowboy Bebop board game that takes players through the lives and objectives of the Bebop crew.

The properties that Jasco Games works with are primarily passion projects based on my own childhood nostalgia as well as that of most of our team. Cowboy Bebop and Dragon Ball Z are two of my favourite Animes.

Are there any other video game titles/pop-culture licenses you’d like to work with?

There are endless titles we talk about on a daily basis. Marvel and DC are both important to me, as well as around 30 to 40 more video games, animes, comics and movies. Really, I don’t know if we will ever run out of titles we all love, which keeps us very passionate about our jobs.

What’s the next big step for Jasco Games?

The next step is fulfilling this game at the highest quality anyone has ever seen. We are blowing Street Fighter out to be one of the coolest looking games to hit the table top. The design has been worked on for years now and it’s time to make it look as good as it plays. After Street Fighter, we plan on two other major properties. Additionally, we have other board games, card games and miniatures games releasing fairly regularly. 

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