Friday, August 27, 2010

Open Mouth, Insert Foot - The Frog God Games Debacle

The recent announcement by Frog God Games of its union with Swords & Wizardry has sparked quite a debate within the OSR community and I must admit they did come off a little to WOTC.

And just so I'm clear on this I left tabletop gaming because of WOTC. I far preferred the 'hand drawn maps' and 'clip art laid out by amateurs' approach by the pioneers of the hobby to the endless flood of pretty and expensive rulebooks that seemed to have a new edition every 15 minutes.

And let it be clear also I have never purchased one of these products. It is these 'amateur' productions that brought me back to table top gaming after spending years trying to find the flavor in video games that never quite hit the mark.

So the fiasco that started here (Now Updated To Exclude The Inflammatory Remarks)

and turned into this

and slid into this

and started cooling off here

Made me remember a post from back in May from here

In a nutshell, the industry is not only in trouble, as we now know it, but all but on the way out. When large companies produce product they do everything they do for one reason-money. Not enough money, move on to next product. Not a value judgment, just a statement of fact.

Watching a video the other day of Erik Mona, publisher at Paizo Publishing, delivering the keynote at GamesU 2009 (at around the 38 minute mark) I think summed it up best-at its peak in the '80s products that would normally sell 50k to 150k copies now might be expected to sell only 5k to 15k. Earlier in the video he had mentioned the numbers that Dragon magazine would have at its peak in 1984 with its highest subscriber base of 126,000 which when the print version ended had shrunk to about half as many. Meanwhile, the cottage industry side of the hobby has been steadily gaining traction.

Gamers have had a chance for all the pieces to fall into place at just the right time to show what the future of not just gaming but creative entertainment will look like down the road. Much like the MP3 and file sharing changed the music industry we have entire communities no longer looking to the outside world to get things done but taking up the old punk DIY attitude and getting it done for themselves.

In my own life most of the new music I experience comes through web labels, the films I watch, shorts especially, come from their makers via the Internet. The same goes for books, games and just about every other thing that I have usually went into a retail establishment in the past for.

But when I felt like I was being made a chump for paying $18 for a CD that I hadn't even heard yet, maybe a couple tracks, and realizing I had wasted my money I started looking for other ways. And the Internet has provided them.

The funny thing is, just when the Internet is set to be changed into just a venue for corporations to shill through to the masses a new form is rising that will truly change the future once and for all. Look up ad hoc wireless computing sometime and then think where things are going to go when millions of computer owners no longer answer to anyone and are free to discuss and disperse whatever they please to whomever they please. It's a new world coming...froggy better get a jumpin' :)