Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Should ENworld keep stroking itself?


The little picture at the top right was the icing on the cake... or perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back.

There's a small chance that Russ Morrissey was referring to +Kasimir Urbanski (RPGpundit) and this post.  However, it's far more likely that Russ Morrissey was talking about +Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern fame.  Last week, Tenkar posted thisthis, and this.

If I'm right and Russ was referring to Erik as the "abusive personality" than things are even more dire than I feared.  Erik is a lot of things, but he is not abusive.  Oh, the thieves, scoundrels, malcontents, and idiots occasionally consider him abusive - that's because he pops the balloons of delusion those people cling to.

Here's what this is all about: ENworld posts a lot of RPG news on its front page, big splashy, colorful press releases - news and advertisements all rolled into one.  ENworld also has a few people on the payroll who either create or vet these puff pieces for gamers to look at and discuss in comments below.  They must not vet them very hard because I can't remember seeing any criticism or negative commentary anywhere on ENworld's front page.  Unless you count the user comments who are not being paid by RPG companies and/or ENworld.

I'm a little biased.  I'll admit that upfront.  +Sean Patrick Fannon had some shitty things to say about me and my sleazy space opera RPG Alpha Blue when it got temporarily removed from the virtual shelves of DriveThrRPG/RPGNow.  And I've exchanged words with Morrus on many occasions, and pretty much every time he's been either dismissive or condescending.

So, now that Russel Morrissey is expanding his RPG line with O.L.D., N.O.W., and the latest N.E.W. (Really?  And they sell even with those titles?), ENworld is suddenly inundated with in-depth analysis and several people chiming in about how awesome it is - including Russ Morrissey himself.

It's also been one of Sean's Picks of the Week.  Sean Patrick Fannon is a staff writer, reviewer, press release sifter for ENworld.  And even he admits that there's "...a fine, fuzzy line between news, promotion, and outright advertising."  Though, it looks like ENworld has crossed the line.

You might think that such false advertising (by that I mean - no disclaimer) has a negligible effect on sales; however, I just looked at DriveThruRPG and N.E.W. was uploaded on August 19th and is already a Best GOLD Seller.  Compare that to a fairly successful but small independent self-publisher like myself.  Alpha Blue was uploaded onto DriveThru on December 18th of 2015 and is currently sitting pretty (well, I think she's pretty) at Best ELECTRUM Seller.  For those of you who've never played AD&D, gold is better than electrum.

Basically, this blog post is boosting the signal for RPGpundit and Erik Tenkar, as well as, a chance to ask the gaming community some hard-hitting, philosophical questions.  Real big picture stuff.  Here goes nothing...

  • Does this kind of thing (payola) bother you?
  • How susceptible are you to hype, advertising, promotion, and the like?
  • Do you prefer to only hear about games from big companies with lots of advertising dollars behind them? 
  • Why are labels, brands, and officially authorized/licensed take-your-pick important to the average RPG consumer?
  • Would you agree that creating a sense of immersion is a high priority in RPGs?
  • Would you also agree that rules-light RPGs are more immersive because they present less obstacles, procedures, and time devoted to looking things up?
  • Since crunchy and rules-heavy games are three times less likely to bring in new roleplaying blood than simple and rules-light games (yeah, I just made that statistic up - but it seems legit to me), why continue to support the former over the latter?
  • Is authority more important or valuable than autonomy?  

Thanks for reading,

VS