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A friend told me Kickstarter is ruining his gaming social circles and he's right

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19 May 2019 23:32 #297304 by Vysetron
There's less reason to send review copies when reviews have such little effect in the current landscape. Games are printed fast and furious, preorders are fulfilled, buyers move on to the next, repeat. A critical apparatus only serves to throw a wrench in that business model, and an in-depth review of a game that's already out is already too late.

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19 May 2019 23:35 #297305 by ubarose
Actually, the Kickstarter thing hasn't impacted any of the game groups I play to any greater extent than new games in general. I think I have seen 4 new Kickstarters in the past year Root, Monster Slaughter, Western Legends and Dinosaur Island. And all 4 have gotten repeated plays.

Last meet-up I went to the new-ish games that were getting played were Wingspan & Res Arcana.

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20 May 2019 00:36 #297310 by Greg Aleknevicus
There were several reasons why I more-or-less gave up gaming ~12 years ago, but the onslaught of new games was amongst them. It's not that they were necessarily bad, it's that they were crowding out the older games we knew were great.

I'm just now forming a new group and our library will consist of games no younger than 12 years old (i.e., my collection) and am actually excited about the prospect.

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20 May 2019 01:14 #297314 by Scott_F
I agree with some of the points here but overall disagree about the effect KS has had on my gaming experience. I began playing games about 5 years ago and was willing to try any type of game and went to random meetups everywhere in my local area. KS games were still very rare way back then. And honestly most of the games that I played then were bad fits for me. Far too many rounds of Werewolf or random euro game with some kind of efficiency engine or VP salad or trading theme. I did try some classics like Tigris & Euphrates and Glory to Rome but it was more failures than successes. The games I tried in the pre-KS era weren't that fun. Dune and Cosmic Encounter being the exceptions.

The games I play the most are KS games or very niche games nowadays. Looking at my last month of gaming I played 15 different games, three of them new to me. At least half of what I played was thanks to KS. Would the games have been published without KS? I don't know. Rising Sun. Cthulhu Wars. Fate of the Elder Gods. Study in Emerald. Pax Porfiriana. Argent. Dogs of War. Many of these are KS.

Sure in a perfect world I know like a dozen people who are willing to learn complicated games and play my games every time we meet. Somehow I haven't made that happen yet though.

Often rather than playing a shitty filler for 30 minutes I'd rather just talk to people about games anyways. I want to know what games they are excited about and why. And I want to know if they like Agricola or Terra Mystica. If they do I'll avoid playing any game recommendations they have in the future.

I will agree that when someone spends hundreds on a KS and grabs a group of people to play it it is tough to criticize the game. With that much money invested you have to be a fanboy somewhat even if the game is not great. On the other hand, most of those games that cost so much are also a fucking pain in the ass to take places. Case in point Cthulhu Wars. Gloomhaven. Hate. Mythic Battles. Etc. I own all of those and I am never enthused about taking them to meetups. What I will do is set up a time and place to play a specific game and ask the people I know that like those style of games if they want to try it.
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20 May 2019 07:33 #297315 by Legomancer
Put me down with the folks who see this not as an effect of KS but as an effect of a glut of games in general. It used to be that major new releases were something of a big deal, or at least gave you a moment to pause and look them over, but now there's new stuff coming out all the time. KS is definitely a vector for this, but I can name established companies that seem to be on a grind as well. Anyone else recall a time when you didn't automatically ignore a Queen Games box?

There's a bigger market now, but it's a fickle market that is seeking novelty over longevity, and it churns through stuff. Terraforming Mars stands out primarily because it seems to be one of the few games that people do play over and over; I can name several big publisher non-KS releases whose candles burned ever so brightly, and briefly.

The current market in general is a supercollider that is producing a shit tone of new games but they only last for millionths of a second. They're designed to be unboxed and hold a special place on the shelf. Even the ones that get played are often more towards "solving" than playing.

It's not new. Before KS we had that period where every week was a new auction game or Ancient Egypt game. KS is a handy target.

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20 May 2019 08:38 #297316 by Sagrilarus

Legomancer wrote: KS is a handy target.


KS is the grease under the stone that is rolling over us. It's the volume of titles that we're talking about here, and KS makes it pretty doggone easy to publish a boardgame.

If anything I think the last year or two has been better for the discussion of key games in the industry. 2017 and 2018 had a couple of big titles that have attracted a broad audience and allowed us to speak to a common experience. Scythe, Terraforming Mars in particular. Regardless of what you think of those games they at least let us judge the hobby from a couple of solid benchmarks.
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20 May 2019 08:50 - 20 May 2019 08:53 #297317 by san il defanso
I know I've been pretty down on Kickstarter in the past, but in the end I'm with a lot of other people in this thread. This isn't that different from the weekly churn we had back in like 2008. I think it's more that Kickstarter feeds into a lot of bad impulses that were already there. There's the FOMO, the enjoyment of collection. Kickstarter does act as an enabler to those bad elements.

But it also has done a lot of good things for the hobby. I was playing Argent the other night, in all its over-bloated glory, and I think that a normal development cycle would have peeled away some of what I love about that game. It's allowed a lot of old games to get reprinted in nice new editions. As a lover of old games I think that's great.

It's less an issue of one being better, and more one of trade-offs.
Last edit: 20 May 2019 08:53 by san il defanso.
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20 May 2019 09:49 #297323 by Legomancer
I'd also say that I've been up on KS more lately because of the churn from elsewhere. I don't give a shit about any more tracks-upon-tracks resource conversion point salad Lament Configurations, and KS is offering me themes and designers that I'm not getting elsewhere.
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20 May 2019 10:07 #297329 by san il defanso

Legomancer wrote: I'd also say that I've been up on KS more lately because of the churn from elsewhere. I don't give a shit about any more tracks-upon-tracks resource conversion point salad Lament Configurations, and KS is offering me themes and designers that I'm not getting elsewhere.


This is me and every new tactical game with lots of minis. Like Barnes said, life is too short to play the introductory scenario fifty times.
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20 May 2019 10:44 #297337 by Msample

san il defanso wrote: The whole thing has made me conscious of how much every reviewer curates what games are worthy of attention just through what they cover. When there was some broad consensus, you were able to participate in a larger conversation based on what games were big. Those opinions on popular games, combined with the less known stuff you choose to cover, would serve as a sort of broader narrative for reviewers. Whether that's good or bad is up for debate, but it's definitely been a big change in games writing.

But when you are kind of guessing at what will be big, you are really just adding to the fractured nature of the hobby, because you're basically writing about completely different games from everyone else. Again, not good or bad but definitely different.

It doesn't help that so many publishers are loathe to comp copies these days. It just means that you need to either wait longer to review something that becomes popular, or curate some more by way of what you purchase.



I've talked to one wargame publisher about requests for review/demo/door prize requests and he says it's out of control and I believe him. Especially in that category, there are basically only a couple print mags that have any sizeable circulation ( and only 1 that is worth a damn IMO ) . After that, you have a host of self proclaimed influencers, YouTube unboxing time wasters, and convention organizers running 50-100 people cons looking for free schwag to hand out as door prizes ( mini rant - I HATE cons that make a big deal about handing out door prizes where gaming grounds to a halt while they call out names over a loudspeaker ) . One such douchebag even called them out on social media for refusing to send free stuff for their little con ! The sense of entitlement of some of these people borders on ridiculous. It all adds up. I think he said if he had to guess it was well over 100 requests in a calendar year, which is a decent % of what are usually relatively low print runs. Vetting these isn't worth the time IMO so I don't blame him when he just deletes most requests without response and sends out what is presumably a handful.

And that's just wargames. I can only imagine how bad it is for more mainstream games. I mean after Vasel and a few others, I'd imagine its a HUGE drop off in terms of number of impressions Joe Schmo instagram "influencer" gets. This isn't a slur against those who write good reviews, but sorting thru all the chart from both a reader as well as publisher standpoint can't be easy.

As for KS ruining game night, I think it happened before KS came on the scene, it just magnified the issue. Even among grizzled older gamers not caught up in the cult of the new, finding consensus on what to play these days ain't easy. As others point out, KS magnifies the issues as well as increases the butt hurt on those who overpaid for some minis laden extravaganza. My local opponent brought a few over several years ago, they fell totally flat and now he knows better than to even suggest we try one. He still buys them, but knows I ain't wasting time.
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20 May 2019 10:48 #297338 by san il defanso

Msample wrote: I've talked to one wargame publisher about requests for review/demo/door prize requests and he says it's out of control and I believe him. Especially in that category, there are basically only a couple print mags that have any sizeable circulation ( and only 1 that is worth a damn IMO ) . After that, you have a host of self proclaimed influencers, YouTube unboxing time wasters, and convention organizers running 50-100 people cons looking for free schwag to hand out as door prizes ( mini rant - I HATE cons that make a big deal about handing out door prizes where gaming grounds to a halt while they call out names over a loudspeaker ) . One such douchebag even called them out on social media for refusing to send free stuff for their little con ! The sense of entitlement of some of these people borders on ridiculous. It all adds up. I think he said if he had to guess it was well over 100 requests in a calendar year, which is a decent % of what are usually relatively low print runs. Vetting these isn't worth the time IMO so I don't blame him when he just deletes most requests without response and sends out what is presumably a handful.


Totally makes sense. We haven't just had an explosion of games, but of people making things ABOUT games too. It'd be a headache to sift through that stuff.

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20 May 2019 10:48 #297339 by GorillaGrody
Like capitalism itself, it's all either feast or famine, boom or bust.

I remember, when I first started going to game meet-ups just 10 years ago, it was all Dominion, all the time. Either that, or Puerto Rico or El Grande. These are good games, but I knew there were a bunch of new games cropping up that I wanted to try. People just wanted to play the games they knew. I'm meeting that resistance right now with the miniatures games I've gravitated towards in recent years. There's just Warhammer (which has just never been a good game) and a handful of spunky, well-conceived contenders no one even wants to look at.

Since the middle-ground is too delicate to be maintained, and it must be an A/B choice, I'd say I prefer the glut, and to find my people within it (harder said than done).

My main issue with the glut is that often good games get buried. My wife and I have been looking for a good 2-player trick taking game that's not Haggis for a while, yet I only just heard about Fox in the Forest. It just couldn't rise out of the muck.

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20 May 2019 11:31 #297347 by Erik Twice

ChristopherMD wrote: Game-of-the-Week burnout was a thing long before Kickstarter, but we can pretend it wasn't if it means ranting about KS destroying the hobby I guess.

I'm not pretending, it's just how it has been for my friend (and me, by implication).

Playing a new game every week was not a thing for us before someone in our group got the Kickstater bug. We had been playing for years and it hadn't been a problem. Then one of us got into Kickstarter and our weekly meetups gradually turned into playing the undercooked 150$ game he had just bought on Kickstarter. And, like my friend said, I barely go anymore because of it. I'm tired of wasting my valuable hobby time on first-plays of mediocre miniature-filled games.

My friend's other group has gone through the same thing. They had been playing for years, met regularly and even had regular Mage Wars and Arkham Horror LCG games going. Then one of the guys got the Kickstater bug, started bringing a new KS title every week and now half of the group avoids it for exactly the same reasons I do.

Barnes has put to words how I've been feeling since all this started "There’s this weird sense that you are playing something just so somebody doesn’t feel bad about their buying decision". It's exactly like that. I feel obligated to go, to play a game I dont' like or care about just so my Kickstarter-loving friend doesn't feel bad. And that's a nasty feeling. When I told my girlfriend about it she told me that when we first starting dating, I was always excited to go but now I look at excuses and complain about how it was a waste of time.

And like Barnes said, this is not exclusive to Kickstarter. My friend could have bought Brass at retail and ignored it after the first play just the same but the entire culture surrounding the platform amplifies it.
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20 May 2019 11:45 #297349 by Shellhead
I'm pretty busy these days with some major renovation work on my house, so I have cut back to just one boardgame group that meets on a monthly basis. We had a Kickstarter problem for a while because one of the hosts was getting some big and expensive games that way. Then the hosts decided to get married, and their funds have been diverted to cover wedding costs. And the one guy has figured out that his Kickstarter games either aren't very good or are too long and complex for our group. Since I am the only other person who regularly brings games, we have managed to escape the Cult of the New/Kickstarter for now.
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20 May 2019 19:46 #297390 by Michael Barnes
Erik and everyone else is exactly right- it’s not a new problem and it’s not a KS exclusive problem. But like Erik said, it’s MAGNIFIED by the way these games are bought and sold. Somebody shows up with the $35 renaissance auction game he picked up at the FLGS yesterday and it tanks...that’s not the same psychology as when an expensive -product line- and several sessions worth of assumed campaign play fails at the table and the guy or gal that bought it is left with a shitty feeling because his or her investment is DOA...and nobody is going to want to play it again. Or, when he or she shows up next week and someone else has brought a NEW game in that class and is subtly pressuring the group to play.

When it comes down to it, the psychology of KS is really where the problem lies. From FOMO to this aspirational belief that the mountain of content you are buying will translate into hours upon hours of fun (if you even get it played) to the notion that pre-purchasers are “backers” involved in producing the game...you could even roll up this sense that the hobby is healthier than ever because of KS into the weird emotional impact KS has had. From top to bottom, it’s the way KS works on the consumer mind that is -really- the heart of the problem. Along with those who are totally exploiting it all.

I am sure some groups (like mine) haven’t been hit as hard as others by all of this...but all it takes is one “whale” and you can see this all happening.
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