Thursday, April 28, 2011
The Jacksonian Conundrum or Why Munchkin and not GURPS
So Evil Stevie was at the game show I was at today. Yup saw the new Ogre, and a boatload of stuff that was part toy and part game. Then there were the truck loads of Munchkin stuff. For those not playing, in essence Munchkin consists of leveling up your character to 10th level to win. You play good cards on your self, and everyone plays crap cards on you to stop you. Now pick a theme, rinse and repeat. Unlike the more erudite of the OSR, I do not despise munchkin and its ilk. SJG has hit on a theme and game design that appeals broadly. If they don;t have your theme, wait a few months its coming...including Axe Cop. Yup That is not a mis-print, look it up. Don;t be surprised if Munchkin Conan does not show up (or some riff on it) as well...
I am listening to Steve pitch his stuff and I come up with 3 things:
1) Steve is Smart
2) He listens and produces what his customers support
3) He isn't afraid to try things-PROVIDED they make him $
Look at the bulk of SJG's projects and they are a lot of one off's with potential. Let's take Cthulhu dice. He made the game sure...now he has a Cthulhu dice bag that looks like Cthulhu...and he is coming out with a giant foam die version with Cthulhu silly bands as markers. Clearly this is making him $. If an when any of these bomb-Steve moves on.
He showed a giant plush tentacle, maybe 2 feet long-no purpose, no game tie, just a tentacle. If enough attendees could convince him they could sell it-SJG gets in the foam tentacle business. If it sells maybe you get foam eyes on stalks next, if that sells, maybe wings. Steve stops when a sales threshold is not met and then moves on.
So why not GURPS? Unlike the last edition which filled shelves with splat books, this edition really does not have anything to show for itself. In fact I don;t remember seeing any GURPS at his rather large booth. What does that tell me? It is not selling. In fact it is selling so poorly, it isn't worth talking about or showing to prospective retailers. Brother that is bad...remember the foam tentacle? He was willing to talk about that...but not GURPS...yeeech
Okay so Munchkin sells by the goat-load, and GURPS is Texas sized roadkill. What's my point? Should be obvious-PEOPLE WANT AND WILL BUY EASY TO PLAY AND UNDERSTAND GAMES. Munchkin-easy, GURPS-hard. Solution? Already made (but need updating) Melee and Wizard.
Don;t believe me? Okay let's talk about WotC! Yup after they had zippo at GAMA, they had 40 feet of gaming goodness at this show!
Board games 25 feet
Magic 10 feet
D&D 5 feet
That isn't a mistake either and D&D was spread out to cover the 5 feet and almost no one was looking at it. WotC was showing what people were buying. (FYI-they have Shogun/Samurai swords reprint coming-looks sweet!)
To be clear I am not some gilded age wanna be, back to the future, everything was better when TSR had a cartoon, my kingdom for a wood grain box devotee. What I am is mystified by the blind devotion to encyclopedic gaming production in an age of on demand consumer. Is that a problem? If you think it is, you need to ask yourself what the problem is? Is it the chicken laying the egg or the egg that is getting produced? Or do we need a different bird altogether now?