Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Repackaging, Rebranding, and Recreating.
Of course, this sort of thing can come in many forms and one that many can relate to is the new edition of a rulebook. Sometimes the reasons for a new edition is to correct problems, errata, and perceived issues with the system in order to make easier, better, or whatever other valid reason there could be. In some of those cases, these remain compatible to previous editions so there isn't much of an issue. For example, my copy of the Call of Cthulhu rulebook is the 5th edition version and the newest edition is still perfectly compatible. Instances where there are 'significant' changes (and there are in 7th edition), they actually tell you how to go about the conversion with regards to older material (it's REALLY simple). On the other end of the spectrum, you have the migration from AD&D 2nd Edition to 3.x to 4th, and finally to 5th with each being substantially different from the last much to the frustration of many.
Even Troll Lord Games had annoyed some of it's fans since they claim they don't believe in new editions, only new printings. The fact is these new printings have seen quite a few changes which other publishers and gamers would consider editions. With the 4th printing of the Players Handbook a few years back, they outright changed the Barbarian class, altered the Monk, added illusionist spells and included healing for illusionists. But the game is still the same. However, since this was a new printing, gamers who had purchased the 3rd printing of the PDF had expected an updated version of the Player's Handbook when the 4th printing was made available. It was not and instead, it was treated as if it was a new edition, and thus, a new product. I should note that they seemed to have reversed this position since then and my 4th printing PDF has been updated to the 6th PHB printing. Same goes for the M&T book.
In other cases, it is just as simple as needing a new printing. For whatever reason, the art is longer suitable or can be used in subsequent printings, or there's a format change like going from a digest-sized product to a full-sized one. Other times it's a genuine desire to revisit and improve upon something.
To want to improve on something that is great is nothing new. Whether or not the new version is actually better is a different question entirely -- just consider the wonders and horrors that George Lucas brought about when he touched up Star Wars. It can be a tricky thing to revisit material and then go about changing and modifying it. James Raggi with 'Death Frost Doom' did just that and thankfully, the product is all the better for it (I reviewed it HERE). Anyone who had the old version from RPGNow/Drivethru or the LotFP store got the upgrade!
But then, there are other instances like the Barrowmaze project.
When the first Barrowmaze book came out, I completely missed it but I ended up hearing a lot about it, and with the Barrowmaze II, I happily pledged the money and was able to get a hardcopy of Barrowmaze I and II -- both signed with some goodies part of the pledge level and stretch goals. I was happy and I love flipping through the books. Greg (the creator) is a really good guy and the project was certainly a labor of love. I spent $100 back then to back it and was happy to pay it given the books, maps, dice, and with shipping being included. As a backer of Barrowmaze II though, I only got a PDF for that and not one for the first book but I figured that I would pick it up when I finally ran it (I like the utility of PDFs for running published adventures). That was back in 2012. More recently, a campaign for Barrowmaze Complete happened which combined parts I and II and added a bunch of other material. There were some really awesome miniatures as well. When I saw this, I figured that I wouldn't bother with it. The new cover looked gorgeous and judging by the original books, the new content would have been equally awesome. The miniatures were also great but overall, I was reluctant to drop another $80 on content I mostly had and, well I have plenty of miniatures that still need painting (thanks Reaper!). Paying $35 just for the new PDF was silly since I already had the PDF for Barrowmaze II and the the cost for the first PDF was still less. Anyway, I put it to the back of my mind until a few days ago when I start seeing pictures of people showing off their shiny new books. I decided to check out the cost of the first PDF I missed out on or see if there is something available for the previous owners of Barrowmaze. There was nothing. The old files are not available for purchase and there is no separate supplement either.
This sort of thing is disappointing to see. I remember the campaign for Barrowmaze Complete the offer for previous backers who would get a couple of extra miniatures if they backed at the $190 level for the book and miniatures. As awesome as that sounds, to me it was a bit excessive but I understand why it was done that way. However, I don't understand why the old PDFs are no longer available. For people who owned the original PDF of either that may want to pick up the other, I don't think it's detrimental to the sale of the new release by keeping the PDFs up. If anything, it's forcing people who are in a position like me to decide whether or not they want to spend money again on something they own. At the same time, I understand that it could confuse new buyers who have heard about Barrowmaze and then see multiple titles to choose from.
Ultimately, people will view all of this in different ways depending on their own opinions and situation. I can't begin to tell you how many copies of the C&C Player's Handbook I have picked up over the years but usually I find new homes for the older books but don't see me doing the same thing for adventure modules and campaigns. Also, some of the C&C books and the Barrowmaze books are signed and personalized and this means I'm less likely to part with them or subject them to potential abuse in a gaming environment.
As a fan, I happily support many gaming companies by buying and promoting their products. However, as a fan, I also appreciate those same gaming companies and creators to take notice from time to time and acknowledge the fact. It's not that we are looking for freebies -- it's just that, we'd prefer not have to pay for something we buy time and time again, every single time.
Now... what will I do about Barrowmaze? Greg is a good guy so maybe I should just ask him about the original PDF for the first book.