Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Business: The Road Not Taken Soon Shall Be, Like It Or Not

In The Beginning, The Hobby Took One Road

Back in the 1970s the means to make a business out of fantastic adventure games were as they are now:

  1. Sell lots and lots of product.
  2. Sell a subscription-based service.

The first is what the Cargo Cult gravitated towards, such that "The Product Treadmill" became synonymous with the business of hobby game publishing. Cripple your core game to make room for supplementary publishing, add additional products that are really there to launch and develop a specific Brand (i.e. Setting Bible Syndrome), and keep at this with decreasing end-user utility until it collapses under its own weight. Reboot with a new edition and do it again for another 3-10 years; this is the model that Stupid British Toy Company is infamous for openly espousing to its investors, especially with SpaceMace 39K.

To the credit of preceding generations, there were attempts at the service model. This was were you found the RPGA, the AADA (Car Wars), Traveller's Aid Society, and other similar attempts to have the publisher of a given game product faciliate users' connecting with one another. But that is what they were: attempts. Due to a lack of infrastructure and resources, pre-Internet attempts focused around the convention scene- with all the downsides that has. Each would, in time, end up subserviant to the former- and to the Consumerist Brand Identity development that each would resort to over time.

It is not surprising, therefore, that any serious game design talent that began in tabletop fled it once they realized that this was a terminally broken business paradigm- and no one in a position to unfuck it had any interest in doing so.

SPOILER! It did. A lot.

When One Road Washes Out, Take The Other One

Years ago, back in the hive of scum and villainy that is RPG Net, I said repeatedly that the real money is in connecting users.

Now we see that The Only Company That Matters that publishes The Only Game That Matters agrees. Why?

Simple: the technology caught up to the vision. The problem all this time was finding a way to not only get users of a particular hobby game in contact with one another, but to faciliate their playing with one another. It took A RIVAL MEDIUM'S BIGGEST SUCCESS (World of Warcraft) to get any serious talk going AT ALL.

The current C-Suite at Magic-Users By The Water seek to implement the subscription-based-service model with the next iteration of Current Edition. They seek to be predatory about it, as befits people with mobile trash game business experience--that's the Zynga element, not the Microsoft one--and supplemented with more old-school experience (MS).

The new business model is to sell you a subscription, which grants you an access pass into the Walled Garden. You will then have access to Current Edition, and be able to connect with and play with other users. There is bound to be FOMO-driven microtransactions of an aggressive and predatory nature, creating a metagame layer intended to use peer pressure and Social Proof to get users to spend big money on things in the online/ingame cash shop (overpowered Races, Classes, whatever; we'll be wretching out our lunches over it soon enough) or you'll get benched in favor of those that do.

Sounds horrible, doesn't it?

It doesn't have to be that way, Anon. You have another choice.

The Clubhouse awaits all those ready, willing, and able to play the game properly.

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