Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Steve Jackson Games Stakeholder Report looks back on 2017

Steve Jackson Games (via Phil Reed) puts this report out every year, and it's well worth reading. It's also the time when GURPS fans recoil from the screen like a vampire in an Olive Garden, but there just isn't much we can do about that....

So aside from the vaguely interesting news that the Munchkin brand isn't continuing to generate the money they expect, the stuff that is interesting to RPGers is on how Dungeon Fantasy fared, and what that means for GURPS in the future. Also, if they talk more about what it means for SJG to have The Fantasy Trip back.

Well, the sad news is that GURPS Dungeon Fantasy is essentially a failure, and the description of how things went down (including over cost and cutting printed editions by 30%) suggest to me that the hope for more sets of similar nature just isn't going to happen. Literally the best thing to happen to GURPS, it turns out, is their addition of PDFs to OneBookshelf sites and the addition of POD to Amazon's service. This is good news in the sense that the availability of those products is more or less assured, and it doesn't impact SJG's ability to keep things in print and in stock. It's bad news because it means that in many ways we might as well think of GURPS as at the evergreen stage of its product life....this, along with occasional new PDF support, is probably all we're going to see, I suspect.

On the plus side, it looks like they definitely plan to revive The Fantasy Trip and will announce something at Origins this year, and probably a Kickstarter. It probably doesn't need to be said that in terms of product excitement, it also doesn't help poor Dungeon Fantasy that The Fantasy Trip is now back, something that old grognards will recall Steve Jackson was very unhappy he did not manage to gain the rights to back when Metagaming folded. Indeed, it's not a far cry to argue that GURPS owes its existence to the fact that he failed to secure ownership of TFT!

Anyway, it's interesting and appreciated that SJG provides this report. Often, we gamers may have some expectations and opinions about how the hobby works, but the reality is far different from the business end of how things look. I found it especially interesting when Phil talked about the problem with the market right now...it's flooded with releases and this is creating a different dynamic on the market about how products get released and how they get supported/reprinted. I know I see a lot of board game/card game releases and those seem to dominate game store shelves, but since I only really focus on RPGs it often feels like slim pickins' to me....and even then, let's be real here....in some ways the volume of content for RPGs is higher than ever before, it's just coming to us in a format and at a cost that is far different from how things used to be even just ten years ago.

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