Legend Story Studios recently made headlines within the Flesh and Blood community for its decision to have DraftFab shut down due to a breach of intellectual property. This move left many players and fans wondering why action was taken, and if it was a necessary response. After all, it isn’t hard to think of examples of other groups that toe that same line, but they haven’t been served with legal takedowns. So why was DraftFab singled out in this way?
We reached out to Legend Story Studios to get some more information, and to figure out what happened, and why.
The answer lies in the strategic choices made by LSS. They have adopted a focused approach to their game distribution, opting for the LGS (Local Game Store) model. This means they are committed to supporting and promoting the LGS experience, where players come together in person to play the game. In their own words, "Our mission is to bring people together in the flesh and blood through the common language of playing great games." DraftFab did not align with the LSS goal of getting people to meet in person to play Flesh and Blood.
One might ask why other companies offering online tools for the game haven't faced the same fate as DraftFab, even ones that allow you to simulate a complete game. The key distinction here is that these platforms contribute to the overall desire and enthusiasm for the game, and LSS does not currently find them opposed to their long-term goals. LSS acknowledges the challenges players face when trying to gather in person to play games and understands that drafting can be particularly difficult.
I think the timing of the DraftFab takedown request, and the release of Bright Lights makes sense. We are beginning to embark on a draft heavy Organized Play season, and those games need to be played at the local level. When LSS grants an LGS the opportunity to host an event like Skirmish or a Pro Quest, they provide specific guidelines for the event format. This is not a random decision; it's a deliberate choice made to ensure a balanced mix of Classic Constructed (sometimes Blitz) and Draft events across different locations.
“Pro Quest Season 4 will feature Bright Lights draft, and we have worked with stores across our network to try and ensure a good geographic spread of events. This sits alongside our ongoing commitment to support over 1500 weekly Armory Events worldwide as well as the dozen premier events…many of which will feature draft on the schedule.” This was a quote taken directly from our conversation with Legend Story Studios. LSS specifically called out their overarching intentions for the draft format to be a positive experience for customers and for stores. The Organized Play program does not make LSS money. The promos, posters, cash prizes, event support; all of that is put into motion to help make the local game experience better.
We hosted three Battle Hardeneds this past year, and we did it for the love of the game and the community. These events do not pay the bills, but selling boxes and singles does. Flesh and Blood needs dedicated stores to carry, support and run events, and the stores need a financial benefit in return. When LSS shut down DraftFab it demonstrated their resolve for the LGS, and the need to develop store level community.
LSS is not making arbitrary decisions; instead, they are making calculated moves that impact both LGS and players positively. They recognize that the game's success hinges not on the attendance at global tournaments like Worlds but on the vibrant local scenes, such as your weekly Wednesday night Armory events. DraftFab, although well-intentioned, couldn't align with the model LSS has established to foster these local gaming communities.
Surprisingly, LSS has shown considerable tolerance for the presence of third-party entities within the ecosystem of the game. The removal of DraftFab may be seen as the first example of LSS exercising its legal rights and should serve as a cautionary message to others in the field. LSS is not on a witch hunt to shut down operations but is willing to enforce its rights when a service or entity deviates from the long-term goals they've set for the game.
Overall, DraftFab being removed from the marketplace should be seen as a positive move from LSS. They clearly have a goal in mind as to what the game needs to look like to be successful, and they are not afraid to put that plan into motion. As Pro Quest season wraps up, we are particularly excited to see so many people sharing their positive draft experience, their Teklo Fatigue wins, and getting back to what we all love the most; cracking packs, and playing great games with our friends.