Monday, March 18, 2024

Your Life As A Gamer: Conventional Play After The Collapse, Part One

It's going to happen.

The tabletop RPG hobby, as we know it ("Conventional Play"), is screwed.

Single-handedly propped up for generations by just one company--first TSR, then Wizards of the Coast--has led the entire (cottage) industry to never develop the capacity to replicate what the Big Man alone achieved: to get product, and thus the very idea of the hobby, in the places (and thus the places) where Normies go.

Every competitor has always ridden the Big Man's coattails at best. Yes, even when there was a successful licensed game (e.g. various Star Wars editions) this was the case.

With Wizards abandoning tabletop, and no one ready or able to replace Wizards (alone or in a group), nothing will prop up Conventional Play. This is the end.

The Local Store Closes For Good

It starts with remaining WOTC product selling through. Those shelves go bare, as there is nowhere near enough product left to fill that void.

The savvy stores, as they have before, replace that product with something else entirely. As more publishers leave the market, be it due to bankruptcy or to business operations pivoting out of that market, the stores either pivot themselves to adapt or they follow the publishers into collapse. The result is the same either way.

A store that stops being a game store is as ruined as one that is burned to ash.

The number of stores in an area dwindle until only one is left. That one holds on for a time, maybe a long time, but sooner or later it either stops being a game store or it folds.

You no longer have a local store.

"But I buy online."

What makes you think you can always have access to that stuff? DriveThru can lose entire libraries with the snap of one's fingers, either by legal diktat or by other means- some fair, some foul. Amazon can just yeet what you want off their storefront at anytime, and most publishers can't do a damned thing about it- or won't even if they could; the same goes for all of the used product stores.

Yes, including the realspace ones.

If you think this can't happen, talk to the Brazillian hobbyists. They're dealing with this right now.

"But piracy!"

Is an imperfect patchwork workaround, not a solution, because unless you're willing to ensure that those files are also ready and able to be used to make physical product via Print On Demand (and you know how to do guerilla listings) you run the risk (increasing by the year) that the file remains readable as well as maintain its integrity across both OS and software display iterations. And that assumes that they just won't be yeeted Because Reasons.

In short, phyiscal media is better all-around.

"But my group-'

Will slowly, inevitably, wither and die because you have no one recruiting new hobbyists to replace those you lose to attrition- you relied on TSR and Wizards too long for this and none of the now-all-but-extinct publishers never have and never did fill that void, so neither did the common players.

And it's only going to get harder becase this is your competition.

That's right. Just boot up, do the tutorial, join friends, and GET ON WITH IT in 10 minutes or less.

Want a full Conventional Play RPG campaign? Show up, link up, GO!

And all those MMOs are still out there eating Tabletop's lunch daily.

The hobby you enjoyed for 50 years is about to fall away. You can deny it all you want, but it will happen--it is happening--all the same.

Now it's time to talk about what you're going to do about it.

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