Monday, May 17, 2010

How many new editions can you make until people stop buying?

The news of the week has bee Green Ronin's success of getting the DC Comics license so they can make the Mutants & Masterminds with DC Comic Characters.  Now this is HUGE.  That was good work by Green Ronin and they deserve congratulations on getting the license.  But then a few day later, ICv2 had this little article,"Mutants and Masterminds Third Edition" and then I thought, "They are doing ANOTHER edition of Mutants & Masterminds?!?!?!

Now before we get in this I have to make a few confessions:
1) I used to produce products under Green Ronin's M&M Superlink license and the 1st edition of the Mutants and Mastermind game for a few years.  During that time I was one of the most prolific publishers of M&M Superlink material (I had nearly 90 products for their line).

2) I came out and PUBLICLY told people that LPJ Design was NOT going to support 2nd Edition of Mutants and Mastermind and a little while later I was banned by Green Ronin from making any more M&M Superlink products. (I always thought I got banned was because the relationship between Green Ronin and Phil Reed's Ronin Arts PDF company. Phil and I were "enemies" back then and at each other throats making M&M Superlink products. 2002 - 2005 was like the Wild West in the PDF market. But who knows for real?)

3) In my opinion, the reason there was a need for a Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition is that Osseum Entertaiment had stolen all the money from Green Ronin's print run of the Mutant & Masterminds first edition print run.  After three years of stealing, you can figure Osseum stole somewhere in the six figure dollar range from Green Ronin.

But now with this new announcement, Green Ronin is making ANOTHER edition of Mutants and Masterminds.  Three editions in 8 years.  Does that seem like a lot to you?  (Funny thing is WOTC & Paizo kind of did the same thing with OGL 3.0 and 3.5 and Paizo's Pathfinder RPG but at least that was two different companies.) It seems to me that the only business model some of these companies that keep RE-RELEASING edition of their game is to get their "hardcore" fan base to keep buying the editions over and OVER again.  How do you tell someone who supported you the first time you came out with the 1st edition of your product line and bought add-on products for it, and bought your second edition of your product line and bought add-on products for it, that you need them to buy a THIRD edition now?

While this is the basic business structure that video game companies use at least in their defense technology changes every few years (see Moore's Law) so for them there is a little understanding.  But we are talking about niche products with a niche and shrinking fan base.  And let's not even talk about price creep on the products. So here comes the question again: How many new editions can you make until people stop buying?  Talk to you later...