Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Saturday, 14 July 2012

It's Only A Game?

Tamsin ran a piece on her blog yesterday about Battlefront and Slitherine both releasing news that have already caused a great deal of negative feedback for both companies. Of the two the worst on the surface seems to be Battlefronts so I will deal with them first.

Battlefront.
They spend about $250,000 on official tournaments and plan to double the expenditure in the next year. Now in general figure games company levels this is a huge amount of money, more turnover than many make in a year! However BF I am sure it's more than a drip in the ocean but it's affordable. Now they have made the decision that at official events (the ones they pay for) they will ban any none official figures or models. There is plenty of reasons back and forth why this is both OK and not OK but sticking with the business side of things. The idea is that by using only official models that BF will somehow re-coup some of the money they shelled out for the competitions. Well this especially makes sense if the players with unofficial models then go out and buy replacement models, paint them up and continue to partake in official events. But it seems that some of the army lists have models not yet (or ever?) supplied by BF. So in this case the player would have to either switch lists or go for a replacement unit that was not quite as good. Suddenly it's both a financial hit and a capability hit, plenty of reasons to get upset. Now this brings about a new set of wrinkles. Imagine over the last six months several super armies have been carving up the table, you know the score it's in every army list and tournament, there is always one of these armies. OK we know about them and we deal with it the best we can, most often the answer is to build the same type of army yourself. Now imagine if that army happens to involve using a lot of none BF miniatures and vehicles. Close inspection of the winning armies will show BF not leading the way in making all the required parts for the puzzle. Whats more BF would be forced to advertise the fact on their Forum, owned wargames magazine etc etc. Rather a home goal. But have you thought about the other side of that. They have knowingly generated lists that use parts they do not supply. One could say well that serves them right but I say good for them in not limiting what is available in a historically correct formation just because they have not done a model for it. However their handling of the whole thing shows a sudden and uncharatistic change in PR. Given their high media release of version 3 of the rulebook and the give away of the paperback version, customer care and positive attitude has been up to this point top of the agenda. Once the backlash started I would have expected a short statement to try and cool things down followed by reasoned points and a possible even probable change of heart that would have been spun to be a caring and compassionate company. Instead they are being compared to GW in all the bad ways and what ever now comes from the situation they are not going to look good. Who ever at BF turned into a keyboard warrior he or she may well need to be looking for another form of employment. I have said before on this blog that to many of the wargame companies are not Retail Professional and as such make major gaffs and often are surprised when they explode in their faces. Often taking personal affront at customer complaints or negative comments. More than anything regarding BF it's not the decision to ban none official product from their tournaments it's the reasons given and response to the negative feedback. When up to your neck in crap, stop digging.

Field Of Glory V2. I can almost hear Slitherine boss saying, "Quick lets tell everyone the new rule book will be released only in none printable form requiring a computer, it's the perfect time to let it out as everyone is laying into BF". If so congratulations as at first brush this is small news in comparison and with the hype BF is getting it's going to be buried. However I disagree. First the response on Tamsin's sight that it saves them having to find a publisher. Err, Osprey print the stuff for them, they have their own press. I can't think of any reason they would not want to do so except...
Have you seen e-bay? if not take a look at Amazon whilst your at it. FoG Version 1 has to have been one of the best selling rule systems ever released for figures given the shear number of copies of both rules and lists on the market and at prices that mean Osprey can't be selling many copies of what they are holding. The idea that they are doing it this way to stop us photocopying the rules is so flawed. It would be cheaper to buy a copy than it would cost in ink and paper to reproduce. £25 for the Rulebook from Osprey why make a copy? I wonder if they expect sales to be so poor that they do not want to do a large print run. I also wonder if they realise that making a electric media only version available makes them more likely to loose tournament event slots and market share? Imagine if it also gets bad reviews? No they should worry about software copying and a cold shoulder effect of players sticking to V1 and the probable split that will cause between those that have (V2) and those that don't. Imagine the scene at a tournament, two players both needing power for their tablets (not to mention the extra space) X tables in play. Imagine the fall out as these things start to get stolen dropped or fail through lack of plug sockets! V1 players become reliant on V2 players who have a rulebook or even V2 players who are loath to bring the tablet etc. with them. Bad image. I am not against a living rulebook, in fact it's much better than sticky errata that is the other option but I do feel hard and electric should be available and expect Slitherine to respond in such a way. I play friendly games but still want a rulebook both sides the table, I don't want to see a net book both sides the table!! to many other distractions. Hands up who likes playing someone who is constantly checking e-mails and the like. I thought so.

Something to remember, after all the shouting and nay saying most of which is from people who have no horse in the race in both cases it will settle down and what will be will be. BF will not be as harmed as I think they should be by dreadful PR but Slitherine are the ones who could loose out the most, Impetus is gaining er Impetus and that's something Slitherine needs to keep in mind, especially after a fairly poor response to their Napoleonic rules.

8 comments:

  1. I'm so glad I don't use either set of rules, because I'd be quite upset if I did.

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  2. I do use the FoG one, if I can't get V2 (and I would wait to see what was improved) I will leave it. I won't buy digital as I will not have a machine at the table unless it is running the rules, doing casulties etc. If I went to con's etc. or needed V2 then yes I would be upset. At the moment it's more a case of, silly buggers

    Ian

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  3. Glad not to use either set but incredible foot in mouth jobs by both companies, I believe it was $250,00 but I could be wrong Ian....

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  4. Yup, Fran, $250k rather then $25k.

    A typically thoughtful piece Ian - glad to have prompted the discussion.

    Most of the changes are up on the Field of Glory website, but some are just hints at the changes, not enough detail to know what exactly the changes are. Most of what they have changed makes good sense:
    graded limits on how many BGs a commander can control in a Battle Line;
    reduced "slipperiness" of skirmishers (especially light horse);
    reduced move distance if you also turn 90 or 180 degrees;
    -1 on CT tests for every 25% base loss rather than just the first;

    I'm another who wouldn't buy V2 if it is digital only. I do have a mini-laptop I could probably use for it (need to check the screen resolution), but I just don't like the idea of taking it with me to the club or to tournaments.

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  5. @ Angry, yep and corrected, plus changed the follow on text to suit.

    @Tamsin, you prompted others as well as I have read another blog (also quoting you as the sourse) I do like to play Devils Advocote and in my last job I had to often see both sides of arguments or problems to solve them. Regarding the changes to FoG I would more be interested in buying a new version of the rules if the layout was far superiour to the present edition, though the changes you mention do sound like good moves.

    Ian

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  6. I'm just so glad I haven't got the job of picking up all the toys that have been thrown out of prams yesterday and today.....

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  7. @Jim Gamers do seem to take changes to our hobby personally. I play a lot of ASL and some of the comments that arise from topics to do with that are breath taking. I am sure the actual fallout will be far less than the threatened, but I still beleive that if either company go ahead exactly as planned it will cause them some damage.

    Ian

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  8. I think you will find that over the next few years there will be a greater shift over to e-readers and tablets as more and more people use them. I am not saying I agree with this trend but having been one who has got a number of pdf rules I can sea where they are coming from. Print costs these books are going through the roof, believe me as I work for a small company, Solway Crafts and Miniatures producing rules, sources books and guides for VBCW and you wouldnt believe the cost. Osprey true are a much larger company and are more in turn with modern markets and techniques and I am guessing that you will see more of this in the next few years.

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