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Wizards of the Coast Tries Something New

June 11th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · RPGs

In an effort to expand the hobby gaming audience, Wizards of the Coast is going all Web 2.0 with the budget sci-fi name Gleemax. Gleemax will be a social networking community with user blogs, friends lists and web versions of Avalon Hill Games. The hope, it seems, is that this will bring strategy, Magic and RPG gamers together to move the company over whatever hump it is stuck on.

The 3-part interview with Randy Buehler has some interesting bits in it.

On the target audience:

Tabletop gamers are the first customers we care about. The second customer we care about is online strategy gamers. That’s the guy who is playing Civilization, or maybe he’s playing Halo because he doesn’t know any better, if only we could introduce him to the tabletop experiences, he’d rather be a hobby gamer.

Emphasis mine. Poor deluded Civ player! If only we could free him from playing Halo. Doesn’t he know that he’s doing this all wrong!? Who will save him?

It’s an interesting idea, based on some sort of “psychographic” research I assume. Do computer strategy gamers have more in common with the hobby gaming community than the video gaming community? The assumption, I suppose, is that gamers privilege the experience over the medium and the Civ experience is more analogous to History of the World or Ticket to Ride than Gears of War. And Buehler seems get the big thing that keeps online strategy gamers online – the ready access to other people. So, if you give gamers the option to try some of these other games, they’ll sign on to the board gaming community.

The Ticket to Ride Website is a great example of this, they’ve basically only have TTR getting significant traffic, but they’ve included the online version of TTR as a thing that you get for free, and I’m sure they’re selling more copies of the board game because of people on the Website. I don’t know that for a fact, but it makes sense to me.

It’s the same idea behind companies allowing Brettspielwelt to have online versions of their games, or letting Cyberboard and VASSAL skate the rim of copyright violation.

This plan leaves their faded prize property, Dungeons and Dragons, aside for the moment. “The story about D&D is for another day,” says Buehler. “The relationship with Atari is unaffected by any of these plans.” So the plan to rescue live pen and paper role playing from oblivion is not necessarily connected closely to Gleemax.

One of my vain hopes is that they bring back some of the old Avalon Hill games, the ones long out of print. There was some real hardcore stuff in that catalog. Plus I don’t feel like paying 150 bucks for a used copy of Republic of Rome on Ebay.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • Scott R. Krol

    Heh, and here I am taking a break from working on my own thoughts on this news to surf around and I find someone is already blogging about it. Curses! ;) So, is it bad blog etiquette for two bloggers to discuss the same topic?

  • Troy

    Of course not. Lots of people comment on the same stuff – political blogs depend on it. The dialogue is what makes the blogotubes interesting.

  • Natus


    just so you know, a lot of AH classics are being reprinted as we speak, including Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, Titan, and yes, Republic of Rome. All these are being reprinted by Valley Games, and H:RvC will be out–they say–by August.

    However, I think this is a great idea of theirs and I’d like to see where it goes. I liked Magic well enough, but I’d love to be able to play some of their new stock (Nexus Ops, Vegas Showdown) and old (the aforementioned games, Up Front, Rail Baron) much like I now play Euros on Mabiweb and SpielbyWeb.

  • Darius K.

    To me, the major difference between computer strategy games and tabletop strategy games is that the computer make it very easy to create a game of incomplete information, whereas a board game has to be very clever in order to do the same. In particular, I like fog of war, and it’s hard to do that on a board in a way that’s as elegant as the computer’s method of “oh, you just don’t see things until you are within range.”

  • Alan

    There are also those games which feature the kind of complexity best managed by a computer (as opposed to forcing players to keep track of all of the fiddly bits).