Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another Aspect of the OSR

There have been many debates and endless discussions regarding how one defines what the “OSR” actually is. For some it’s simply games published before [insert year here]. For others, it’s a style of play. But I have a theory.

OSR = Least expensive way to game possible.

I realized this as a possibility when I looked at my RPGNow sales report. I have a handful of titles out there. They range in price from $1 to $2.99 each. Generally, each one gets decent sales numbers during the first couple of months, then they fall off, and barely trickle in. Some go months without any movement.

The other day I put Hero’s Journey out there as a Pay What You Want, since I have it offered here as well for free download. Amazingly enough, in less than a week it has 80 downloads. That’s pretty cool. But of those 80, 7 actually paid the suggested price of $1.

Now, let me be clear, I am not complaining. Nor am I suggesting that 73 people owe me a buck. All I am saying is that, when it comes to RPG’s, gamers tend to go as cheap as possible. I know, because I do it myself. My RPGNow library is filled with tons of free stuff. However, I also make it a point of actually purchasing things when I can. And when I see a PWYW listing that sounds interesting, I try to pay something. If not the suggested price, than at least a couple of bucks.

I see more evidence of this line of reasoning when the topic of 5e (or any edition from 3e on) comes up. A large point of contention for many gamers, particularly those of the OSR bent, is the $50 per book price point on 5e. I can relate, since I have the same concerns.

Someone somewhere pointed out that, if you adjust for inflation and the physical quality of the book, $50 is pretty much right on the mark. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it will cost me $150 to have the core game. And yes, I know that when you buy from Amazon, or other online retailers, you could shave about 40% off of that. But, I also have a thing about buying from a FLGS whenever possible.

Most of these people who see the game as too expensive, also, coincidentally, see the game as “broken” somehow. It’s bloated with useless rules (the word “bloat” has now become a running joke on the forum); the artwork is too unrealistic/realistic/bland/colorful/whatever; the rules promote the use of minis too much/not enough; Etc., etc.

The bottom line is, I feel like a lot of people want to dislike it so they can justify not spending money to support the industry. Which is ironic, considering that those of us who have been playing for 30+ years (the core of the OSR demographic) have easily dropped over $1,000 each on gaming stuff.

Compare that to the car guy who drops hundreds on mods for his hot rod; or the sports guy who shells out hundreds every year on season tickets and memorabilia; or the outdoorsman who has a room filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in ski equipment, boating equipment, hiking and camping gear, or what have you. The bottom line is, hobbies are expensive. In the grand scheme of things, RPG’s are pretty cheap.

When I look at it that way, I actually kind of feel like a cheapskate bastard for not wanting to spend $150 over the course of 6 months to support an industry that has heavily influenced my entire life.

I’m still going to download the free stuff though. Because, free!

No comments:

Post a Comment