Monday, August 15, 2016

So, um, Never Mind

Well, the Invisible Sun Kickstarter just went live.  I believe I said in the previous post that I was "all but sure" to back it, and now I am glad I threw in that qualifier, because it turns out I'm not going to be supporting it.   A small part of that is that nothing in the additional information we have been given assuages my concerns about the setting (and, to some degree, reinforces them).  But the core reason that I am out on Invisible Sun is that the price point is simply too rich for my blood.

 The top-line, sticker-shock inducing number is $197 for the base game, with no digital-only option.  That's a big number, and I think for many people that number is probably disqualifying on its face.  But I can quasi-justify that price.  You can explain away the lack of a digital product offerings by saying that you need the physical components in order to get the play experience they are trying to go for.  I'm a bit skeptical of this, since they explicitly state they are making an app to handle the card-play necessary for the game.  And, I mean, it is 2016 and we are now fully in the digital future, so how much sense does it make to make a game that can't incorporate a purely digital format?  But, hey, it's their game, and if the designers say you need the physical components, it is kind of silly to argue with them.

People also point out that the retail cost of the three core books for 5th Edition D&D is $50, or $150 total, so $197 for a full game is not orders of magnitude higher than that.  FWIW, you can now get the three core 5th Edition books for $90 combined on Amazon, but I grant the basic point.  Cook also makes a good, if self-serving under the circumstances, point that the cost of games should be shared by the group instead of only falling on the GM.  Lots of folks don't have that luxury, but in an ideal world the cost would and could be divided among multiple folks.  So, it's a lot of money, but I think you can make the case for it.

No, what actually causes me to be out on the project is that you have to go up to the 2nd individual backer level, at $539, to get access to the stretch goal products.  In the past with the MCG Kickstarters, the real value proposition has come from those stretch goals.  For example, I backed the "Into the Ninth World" Kickstarter for Numerena.  It was not cheap--$175--but for that I ended up getting (or will be getting) five Numerena supplements (in both hard copy and PDF format), two novels, and bunch of other game aids and other odds and ends.  Now, technically only the three core books were guaranteed, and $175 for three books and PDFs is pretty steep.  But as it worked out, that cost was in a sense spread out among a broader base of products via the stretch goals.  And, given the MCG track-record with Kickstarters, it was almost a foregone conclusion that they were going to hit a bunch of the stretch goals, so the risk of just getting the three books was very low.

If the sell was $197 for the base game and whatever stretch goals they came up with, I might bite the bullet (especially since, about an hour into the 32 day Kickstarter, they are already 1/3rd of the way to their target number, so stretch goals are exceedingly likely to be hit).  But you either have to just take the $197 flat price for just the base game, or make a quantum jump in price-point to get the bonus goodies to distribute the cost.  Either way, much of the value in the value proposition that is usually present in MCG Kickstarters is gone.

To be clear, I'm not offended or put out by these prices.  MCG can set the price for their products wherever they want.  No one owes me the opportunity to buy this game.  Nor does any of this make them bad people or anything silly like that.  If I totally bought into this concept, I might be willing to go in at $197.  But, as is, it is a bridge too far.  I hope the game is great and it does well, and I will still buy and play other MCG stuff in the future.  Just not this one.  

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