A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The challenges hobby gaming faces.

In handy bullet point format!

1: Increase prices!

My response? FRAAAACCK YOU. These books are already more expensive than equivalent page count books in the bookstore. I spend anywhere from 10-200 bucks a month on gaming stuff. Increasing prices means I will go from buying lots to buying little to NOTHING. When WoTC decided to raise their minis game prices I virtually dropped out of buying D&D minis. The last 2 expansions went from 3-6 boosters to.. 1.
People tried to sell World of Warcraft boosters for 7.50 or more a pop. Everyone I knew who wanted to play didn't even buy a starter. I took a risk on Castles & Crusades because it was 20 bucks. Its caused 2 other people to buy the book because its such a reasonable price. Every GW price increase just kills their market that much more. Their stock price just keeps slipping.


A lost customer in such a small industry is catastrophic. Because 1 lost customer really means closer to 10 lost customers in the long run.

I would also bring up the fact game companies should not go public and build their business around smaller audiences. WoTC has ZERO business being owned by Hasbro.

2: Getting an audience.

You know why Yu Gi Oh and Pokemon did so well? Advertised on TV, using the best kind of ad. A 30 minute TV show that was really a promotional vehicle. There is a reason Transformers and GI Joe are still around to this day. A hugely popular cartoon and comic line designed to make you want the toys.

Its half the battle right there.

You expect to make lots of money selling in the gameshop and comic shop you are pretty much outta luck! That's preaching to the already converted. And they have their own dispositions I will get to in another number. Even bookstores are dubious unless you get some endcap thing or some other form of promotion. Game fiction is the low end equivalency to a cartoon show. (And honestly they tend to have about the same quality..)

Once you get an audience, the product has to be popular enough to keep going. The more people you get the more people they introduce forming an endless supply, or at least enough to deal with the churn.

Games Workshop with their ever increasing prices and the VERY small window of people they target is part of what is hurting them. Keeping someone in for the 6-12 months they want (Drop your 300 bucks and get the fudge out kid!) simply isn't enough.

3: Accept that many people already have the game they want and aren't interested in yours anyhow.

I know on RPGnet a new edition or a new game gets everyone's hearts aflutter, filling RPG Open's frontpage with 10-20 threads on a game not even available for a month, but in the real gaming world this is NOT how things work. New editions cause old players to stop buying anything since they are happy with what they have.

But these types aren't the main thing.

Of course I have mentioned MANY times about the ONE GAEM TO RUELZ DEM ALL!!! types which seem to be about 75% of the gaming hobby.

Most Magic players are NOT gonna become Risus players. Most D&D players aren't the slightest bit interested in trying AT-43. Hell, most D&D players aren't interested in D20 Star Wars or Castles & Crusades!

Gaming is PACKED with people like this. Many games do their best to latch on to people so their perceptions are always skewed to "that's the way every game is".

Many D20 D&D players thing every other RPG is a 256 page per book over complicated megagame that requires massive effort to learn and master. Many Games Workshop players have bought into the long expansive and expensive art project elitism spiel White Dwarf blabs on about every issue. Many Magic players think every other collectible game REQUIRES nearly 1000 dollars a year to be competitive. (And the tournament play or NOTHING mindset many collectible games gamers have. I guess playing for the sheer joy of a FUN GAME is dumb to them.) Eurogames boardgamers think everything else is trashy and inferior.

Gaming is trying to sell new ideas to these people and for the most part IT JUST WON'T WORK. There aren't that many open minded gamers in my experience. And many of us just get tired of trying to open the minds of people who won't ever play anything without D&D or Game X on the cover. EVER.

4: Complicated games and ease of entry.

Gaming keeps selling to the same people instead of finding NEW people. A perfect balance would be to make things attractive to new blood while not annoying the old.

If you keep selling to the same crowd, its just gonna keep shrinking. Videogaming is a multibillion dollar industry. Yet one classic genre, SHMUPS are selling in numbers generally worse than D&D is in a much bigger market. Why? They kept selling to the same crowd who wanted everything tougher, more challenging, and more aimed at them. In the 16 bit days 2 or 3 SHMUPS came out every month. These days that's about how many come out per system per year. If that.

You can see the same thing in wargaming. ASL is the gold standard of hex n chit wargames. Even with the Starter Kits its not a huge game by any means. Yet the game that got most of these middle aged guys playing wargames and such was the original Squad Leader, a much simpler programmed instruction game. But these same people poo poo that old classic because they want MORE. You see the same in all gamer games. Would D&D be as huge as it is now without the 4 Basic Sets? No way!

Of course I could go into other topics like how gaming is considered nerdy and public perception keeps people from trying something fun even though its complete frigging hypocracy (hell we believe these lies ourselves in many cases!), but its enough for one post I think.

(This was originally posted on my long unused 1up.com blog. Expect more very soon. Like as soon as I find ones worth posting.)

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I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/