Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Game Industry: WTF?

I was out and about today, paying visits to some customers. I happened to be in the neighborhood of Leisure Time Pet & Hobby, so I stopped in for a quick lookabout. For a store devoted primarily to pets, they have an excellent array of gaming gear, better than some actual game stores I've been in! Their d20 and boardgame sections are surprisingly robust. The miniatures covers an enormous variety, even if some lines are represented by only a few models. Better still, they have some stuff that I would consider too obscure for a general hobby store, things like copies of Nobilis, the new Blackmoor, Paranoia XP, some Eden Studios products, and similar goodies. If I had the money to spare I could easily drop a few hundred of bucks on RPG stuff. What's more, the folks there always ask if they can be of any help and always point out that they would be happy to special order stuff for me. I've never been particularly loyal to the current Friendly Local Game Store. I get most of my stuff off the eBay and occasionally from an online store. Still, I like supporting the FLGS because it can serve as the epicenter of the gaming community. The pet store doesn't have gaming tables or a bulletin board, after all. Still, I really got to hand to it Leisure Time for doing their level best to put themselves in the game. Their stock is respectably large. The staff is friendly. They offer to special order stuff, something that seems to be like pulling teeth sometimes over at the FLGS. I never see Cat Piss Man over at the pet store. Heck, even if he came in, the store already smells vaguely of animals anyway. I might not notice him until he tried to tell me about his character. Another advantage the pet store has over the FLGS is that all the stuff is on shelves. I can't hardly walk around the FLGS without falling on my ass, there are boxes and miscellaneous wares scatter all over the floor. That pisses me off every time I go in the place. Listen, man, I'm not going to buy any of that extra stuff that won't fit on the shelf if I fucking kill myself just walking around in the store.

After looking over the stuff at Leisure Time, I left asking myself a question: Why is everything hardbound these days? A decade ago most of this stuff would have been released as floppy paperbacks. Remember when a game coming out hardback was a big effin' deal? The GURPS and HERO 4th corebooks immediately spring to mind. I mean, if softbound was good enough for Pendragon and most versions of Call of Cthulhu, why the hell is Paranoia XP hardback? Does hadbacking a book really sell enough extra copies to justify the higher price tag? I mean, if I had eighty bucks to blow on gaming stuff (ah, the good ol' days, when I had any bucks to blow on gaming stuff) I'd much rather get three, maybe four softbound products than 2 fancy-schmancy hardbounds. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but the fact that Savage Worlds was a thin hardbound actually put me off getting the game for a while. I'm having a similar reaction to the forthcoming Castles & Crusades book, even though it's only twenty bucks. I keep thinking to myself "But if it was softbound, maybe it would only be fifteen." All in all, these inexplicable hardbounds just push me towards getting more PDF products.