- Aug 20, 2008
With the specific example of Starcraft, I'm pretty sure they still make a moderate amount of money from it. There's advertisements on Battle.net (at least pre-Battle.net 2.0) and there's the brand loyalty associated with Blizzard's games and more specifically Starcraft 2 (and its 3 separate parts.) I'm pretty sure that, while it's no World of Warcraft, they're still making a profit from it - especially since the development costs are long-gone.veloper said:Great first post.christofsch said:In the economics of the roleplaying games, i see one unique point, which was mentionted at the end of the Interview by Mike, when he said that people still play starcraft.
The question is, how much money got blizzard of them after there purchase of starcraft?
Once someone/a group has found the perfect rpg for their tastes, they play it forever, because the creation of new material and houserules is so easy.
For the players that is great, for the industry not so good.
My gamemaster has found Shadowrun 2/3 and Earthdawn as best for his taste. Both systems are out of print, but the limiting factor of our fun, is finding time for sessions, not running out of material.
So, we have a business, where making you customers happy and not making them happy is bad for your longterm success.
So changing stuff is necessary for succes, once you have grown to a certain point. Because the people, who where perfectly happy with your old game, dont need a new one.
This is all there is to it. The fans of the old, can and should stick to the old. The new is for players unsatisfied with the old.
The point's more valid for tabletop games, partially because of the expectations of the medium, partially because there's fewer things to flat-out upgrade like graphics.
But there are still a number of things that can be applied to improve a game system. Eliminating needless complexity is a big one of them (THAC0 from 2nd edition, saving throws versus attack rolls from 3rd/3.5 edition.) There's also tweaking balance and adding in a few more interesting abilities - Pathfinder and 3.5 both were editions focused around this idea, and they did a pretty good job. There are also shifts in gaming philosophy, newer ideas for more elegant mechanics that couldn't be done before because no-one had thought of them. These all contribute to the value of a new edition, which is precisely where the designers make their money.
4th edition had a number of improvements on the system, but it also screwed with the focus to a degree that previous editions had not. There are few rules for what characters can do outside of combat (aside from skill challenges, which are still not hard-and-fast determinants of a character's abilities.) Some decisions could be described as baffling and unnecessary (removing half of the alignment system.) Everything was focused around combat moreso than previous editions - the out-of-combat abilities of rituals were carefully designed to deny any abuse, but that also limited creativity (and put a constant price tag on making your wizard feel like a wizard.) Combat was much-improved from the already excellent 3.5 combat and positioning mechanics, but it became harder to tweak the feel of the game without upsetting the balance of the different classes and in many cases swapped out out-of-combat mechanical clarity for the in-combat clarity. Oozes can go prone, undead can be sneak attacked, web spells can't be burned away, which simplify the rules but now there's a wider gulf to explain exactly what happened.
There's also the change in tone from earlier editions. 4e exudes a sense of "everyone wants to be an adventurer and slaughter monsters all day," borne out by the class/race/power descriptions, alignment system, lack of out-of-combat rules, and pretty much everything cosmetic about the whole design. It encourages roleplaying to be a colorful aside to the combat and does little to explain the increased gap between the logic of the game-world and the real-world. As an example, I still remember the 2nd edition Dungeon Master's Guide trying to explain how vast amounts of wealth could be just lying around in treasure hoards for adventurers to pick up, and looking at medieval history for inspiration in how to actually store wealth. 3rd edition dropped that and similar rationalizations from the actual books and put price tags on and a marketplace for magic items as a commodity. 4th edition went even further than that and just suffused the game with a MMO-style economy of eternally escalating item prices and bonuses, ignoring that any 21st level character could feed a kingdom for 20 years instead of upgrading their +4 Belt Buckle of Shininess to a +5. The whole setting is working from a self-referential viewpoint on fantasy, not one connected with reality. It's taken wizards and monsters running around as granted from the previous editions, now it's turning what was originally ripped from Lord of the Rings into chainmail bikinis, Gandalf zapping orcs with his once-an-encounter lightning bolts, and saving the world into a day job for the adventuring parties of the world.
Can a creative DM overcome that? Absolutely. But they're doing it without much aid from the books and have to work against a lot of the mechanics that balance the game to do so. And the image of the game is rather tied into that whole naive conception of adventuring and saving the world.
Me, I like 4th edition because I'm not that fond of Dungeon and Dragons's settings, even from 2nd edition and on (with the exception of Planescape, though I do prefer Planescape: Torment's more personal/subjective take on it rather than the pen-and-paper version's.) 4e turns what was good combat into excellent combat that rewards tactical thinking and encourages teamwork in ways that most other RPGs don't. A lot of them fall to the problem of specialization in activities: you send in the rogue to disarm traps because he's got the spot checks, the bard to talk with people because he has the high plus to diplomacy, the barbarian to kill things, the priest to heal, and so on. That problem is that most characters who specialize are just flat-out better than anyone else at a given activity, so a 4-man team becomes 4 one-man teams who do only what they're good at, and don't interact with eachother. 4th edition solved that: all characters have diverse but not absolutely necessary capacities within combat and have nothing distinguishing about them outside of combat.
The Red Box seems to be a combination of more options and some of the 3rd edition attempts at increasing the fanbase scope through "dumbing it down" and branding to me. There's more D&D-flavored rules and options from what I read, but what would really interest me - a maturation of the setting through actually examining the setting - just isn't there. Just another supplement, I suppose.