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The Seer Vitz

Cost VS Enjoyment: A Look at RPG Marketing

Recently, I was introduced into Mage: the Ascension by a friend of mine (Nick, an MSN RPG Host). He informed me that White Wolf (the company that makes Mage) has character sheets for all their games on its web-site. So, I went to http://www.white-wolf.com and downloaded the character sheet. But then I decided to see what else is to be found on their site, and I noticed that you could order books and accessories online. So, I decided to check out what they have for Mage.

Now, I don't know about you, but even though I love to buy new RPG source books and such, I don't like to have to buy more than one to get a good idea of the game. I am sure that with Mage, the main book contains all the rules that you need to know, but White Wolf has it listed that three books are necessary as the basic rules. If one were to buy all three just to start a game they know little about, it would cost them nearly $60.

For some $60 may not seem so bad (for example, to get started in AD&D by TSR, Inc. or WotC, you would need to spend nearly $70 to get the basic three they recommend), but I think that companies should have a rules book that is small and cheap for players that want to get into a game, but don't know anyone that has the accessories already. If they were to do this, I believe there might be more role-players.

But, since that is not being done, your only choice is to buy them or not to buy them. And here the question arises whether the possible enjoyment value is equal to or greater than the cost value. But how do you know if you have never played before? Fortunately, with online services like MSN, you can play online, but as great as online games are, they never come close to a real tabletop game where you can actually see who you are playing with. You can get a taste for the game online, but is that enough to condone spending around $60-$80 on a game?

I don't have an answer. If you can afford it, you probably should go for it and try out the game with all the basic recommended rules. However, if you can't afford it, your best bet is to find an online game that will give you a taste of what the game is like. Yet, this experience can be very hard on someone for if they don't know even the basics, it is usually hard for them to get into the game and find the proper enjoyment. But, it is better than nothing, no?

James A. Vitz
RPG Columnist