Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's that time of year - The Crush!

(Hey, it came up under "Gen Con Cosplay" - how could I not use them?)
It's that time of year when new games come out at a blistering pace. We've already seen Shadowrun's new edition and Edge of the Empire in the last few weeks DC Universe is shipping in book form. 13th Age is shipping now. Numenera releases in a few weeks. Stark City for ICONS and the M&M Anniversary Edition rulebook are due out next month. Pathfinder has the usual torrent of stuff. WOTC has a fair amount of Gen Con specialness for Next. I'm sure there are releases for everything from Rifts to Doctor Who as well. It's a firehose of game books!

I can't help but wonder if this hurts game companies on some level as there's only so much disposable income to go around within a certain time period and if someone is travelling to Gen Con it seems logical that they would have less money to spend on books than if they were at home doing their usual routine. Regardless, it's been the model for so long now I can't see it changing on its own but I wonder if the continuing popularity of kickstarter will have an impact? Good ideas and organizing a KS can happen year-round. Will that be the next trend - timing your kickstarter to enable having a product to sell at Gen Con? I'm just wondering out loud but I can see some experienced KS users making that a consideration on their next effort.

It's also interesting to watch the tactical maneuvering around Gen Con as well. If you release a new game at the con then you can post up a video of the design team opening up the game with a cheering crowd - not a bad way to promote the game. There is a risk though of being lost in the flood of other releases at the con as several days of cool new things bury your story. I know it seems like there are cool new things announced or released there every year that I manage to miss in the wave of news that washes over the web that week.

Some companies want some spotlight time all to themselves and release a few weeks to a month prior to the big con. This gives them a certain window of buzz as the only big news of the week. I think this is what we saw with Edge of the Empire and Shadowrun and it seems to be working alright for them. I wonder if it hurts sales though - if some hot new game is released in mid-July am I really going to wait a month to pick it up at the con? Maybe having a second product - a new adventure, a DM screen - maybe that's the trick to mitigating that and keeping the buzz going.

Star Wars is an odd case - they were in production almost continuously from 1987 on, then finally petered out in 2010. Then we went through 2011 with noting new. Last year saw the announcement and I believe they had the beta rulebook available and now this year we have the finished core book. I'm betting with FFG behind them now and with a core book out the door that we will be seeing a lot of Star Wars over the next few years. I'm taking their 40K line as a guide and if that holds up there will not be a lack of material.

With DC complete and Marvel cancelled there are no new comic book RPG releases for this one. Any bets on how long that will last? With almost quarterly releases of superhero movies you would think someone could figure out how to sustain a game for a few years but no one has in quite a while.

We haven't had any new Star Trek for years either. Again, there have been a couple of fairly popular movies in recent years, but no new RPG. I wonder if anyone has even tried for the license recently? Oh well, one of these years Traveller Prime Directive will get finished and I'm still interested in trying that. Maybe next year.

Finally, for the second year in a row, no new D&D stuff.  Sure, there's been some old D&D stuff coming out, and there are some Next adventures or documents being passed out there, but no "Complete Book of Modrons" or "Player's Handbook VI" or anything like that. There's a fair amount of hubbub around their new Forgotten Realms update kickoff as well. I suspect this will be the last year 4th edition is even mentioned. Next year though ... next year will be a massive August for D&D as whatever the new edition turns out to be will be released and it will be THE thing for Gen Con. Hopefully it's worth the hype.

1 comment:

Digital Orc said...

Yeah, I thought about going to Gencon again this year, but when I crunch the numbers and see all the product I COULD buy if I just stayed home... it was enough to convince me. That, and as I turn more and more into a grognard, I like crowds less and less.