Thursday, April 2, 2009

Very bad move, MMP

This "interesting" news from MMP, taken from a BGG Geeklist on the P500 staus for April.

In other news, and perhaps best put under the heading NOOOO!, MMP staff (SCS/OCS designer Dean Essig I believe) posted that the company would not support (or even allow others to make) electronic versions of its games. Needless to say, the CSW forums filled with even more ... "witty banter" then usual. And rightfully so, it's one thing in this reporter's humble opinion to not create online modules for games, quite another to exercise your right to restrict others from creating them.

My initial reaction to this is negative and I'll explain why. I'm a big fan of several systems published by MMP, namely TCS, GCACW and ASL. What they all have in common is that they are A) very 'grognardy' B) expensive and C) time-consuming to play . What all these features add up to are an extensive collection of games that have a real hard time hitting the game table anyway. So creating a barrier to online play doesn't seem very customer-friendly to me. While I may very well keep buying these lines (TCS and GCACW anyway, I've already bailed on ASL) I definitely will think twice before buying into any other systems.

Now, if this proprietary system turns out to be very easy to use (like AND not too expensive (don't make me buy the damn game twice!) then I might be mollified. On the other hand, I may very well just say to heck with it and spend my money elsewhere on games I'll get to play more.

There's no doubt MMP is within their legal rights here. But if they don't impart sufficient added value then they may just kill off the customer base. Some of their games are pretty popular (ASL, OCS, SCS, GCACW) by wargame standards but none of them are wildly popular by any other measure and they can ill-afford to turn off dedicated players.

On the other hand, if they offer a very good product, then they may have something there. VASSEL and Cyberboard are very good for what they do, but their strength is also their weakness. They are generic enough to have the flexibility to handle most any game, but that also means they can't focus on providing a hassle-free game experience. I find that VASSEL and Cyberboard games take a significant time commitment, although not an unreasonable one. But I find it worthwhile to subscribe to the Hexwar game service because it's easy to play a lot. And I do that even though I'm not otherwise a big fan of the games they offer (mostly old SPI quads)

Bottom line is that I'm skeptical, but could be convinced. If, on the other hand, it starts to smell like just a way to wring a few more bucks out of players without offering them anything they can't get elsewhere for less then I'm outta there.

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