Wednesday, April 3, 2024

The Business: The Costs Are Now In Favor Of Vidya

Let me spell this out in terms most folks can grok.

What it takes to play Mutant: Year Zero.


First, purchase a rulebook and a GM screen. Combined, that's ($25+$7.50=) $32.50 USD plus taxes.

These are PDF files; you will incur additional costs to print them about and make them useful (i.e. bound into a book or inserted into a blank screen). That varies a lot, but let's put it at $22.50 for a total of $45 USD plus tax (which can easily push you over $50).

Then you need to (a) find players to play the game, (b) teach them how to use the rules, and (c) Schedule Your Fun (with all the headaches that entails). As this is not some derivative of Current Edition or Past Edition, that makes it (charitably) a very hard sell to 80% (at least) of Conventional Play hobbyists. All of that is time spent not playing. Time spent Not Playing IS A COST!

You get, at best, a few hours a week- less because Life Happens no matter if you're the Referee or one of the active players running a man.

That's a lot of money and time spent with a piss-poor return; no wonder this is one of the many wastes of wood pulp that get bought but rarely (if ever) played.


Buy it at Steam or GOG. $35 USD is the base price, plus taxes.

Download and install on your PC or a Steam Deck. Maybe download and install some patches. You can cook a frozen pizza in the time this takes.

Once it's installed and patched up, you are good to go. No wrangling other people. No coping with flakes and similar problem players. Just boot up and play.

You can play for as long as you like, how you like, and if you get stuck there's copious written and video walkthroughs to help you unfuck yourself.

That's a massively superior value proposition; you're going to get at least 35 hours of play from this game, and that's without talking about DLC.

The Problem Is Known

Ryan Dancey, about 25 years ago, got a report from one of the folks surveyed about D&D. The report is now iconic: "20 minutes of fun packed into 4 hours."

Conventional Play has been like this FOR DECADES!

Videogame alternatives not only equalled Conventional Play decades ago, they surpassed them and iterated further since the 1990s; tabletop has been in Catch Up Mode for over 30 years now, as any honest comparison between the two media reveals.

Revealed Preferences

Players do not want to deal with Scheduling Your Fun; this is why MMOs with the ability to queue up to run content with randos do so much better than those that do not.

Players do not want to waste time Not Playing. This is why tutorials got integrated into Actual Play in videogames in the last 30 years and are now considered Best Practices; folks want to Learn By Doing, not by Reading or Listening.

Players do not want to be bored Not Playing. The preference for skipping cutscenes, ignoring text, etc. are now notorious enough to be memes to themselves and Vidya makers long since adapted to reality if they want big, fat sales.

The onboarding sequence for Helldivers 2 demonstrates all of this in action and it is one of the biggest successes of the year to date.

The $40 USD you spend on that game will result is far more entertainment, with friends and randos alike, than Conventional Play can deliver upon. This is why Vidya is better.

You're Crusing Down The River Denial

Go ahead, Conventional Play people, explain to me why you haven't gotten the memo yet and changed your tabletop games accordingly?

The boardgame people have, which is why they are eating your lunch from the other end- it's a lot easier to get people to play Heroquest, Dungeon, or Settlers of Catan than Current Edition.

Why? The big one is Scheduling Your Fun (Advanced): No Ongoing Commitment. Not only does Conventional Play have all the assorted self-inflicted errors, it presumes that this is a job-like ongoing commitment where everyone has to be there or NOTHING GETS DONE (which is why the least committed player holds the group hostage).

And it is all of these things that the #BROSR has found remedies for with AD&D1e and ACKS, such that they now can justify their existence by differentiating themselves from the competition in both tabletop and vidya in their favor.

Current Edition can't do that. All but a handful of existing (and upcoming) titles can't do that. Which is why tabletop is heading for an extinction-level event so far as Conventional Play is concerned- and I can't be happier for it.

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