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Subject: Would people buy wargames that where ONLY available via Vassal? rss

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Jeb
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To me, having Vassal modules that are free for people who purchase wargames makes a lot of sense. I would suggest that is a ‘must have’ in the industry today as explained in another thread and the fact that companies like Decision Games have made Vassal modules.

Question 1: Would people buy a vassal module that was ONLY available via Vassal and did not have a physical copy to the game?

Question 2: Would people buy a vassal module if it where priced lower than the print copy of the game? So let’s say a game retails for $60 and there is a 30% profit margin, the publisher would normally clear $24 profit per game but if they sold the game for $30 they would make more profit but the buyer would pay less.

- On one hand I say let’s not mess with a good thing.
- On the other hand, compensating a developer/publisher for releasing new Games at a very low risk could create an explosion of interesting new designs that otherwise may not get developed.

I think physical games will never go away as I would prefer to play a game face to face when possible. I think most people are of the same mind. The ideal though of getting a fully licensed version of an old out of print game is pretty appealing ...

I expect this ideal to be panned especially by people who consider themselves collectors more than players but I figured I would see what the hive mind thinks ...

(Edit for clarity)
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jeb123 wrote:
Question 1: Would people buy a vassal module that was ONLY available via Vassal and did not have a physical copy to the game?


jeb123 wrote:
Question 2: Would people buy a vassal module if it where priced lower than the print copy of the game? So let’s say a game retails for $60 and there is a 30% profit margin, the publisher would normally clear $24 profit per game but if they sold the game for $30 they would make more profit but the buyer would pay less.


Absolutely, #1 & #2.

There are two buts though. Few years ago we faced--and still are facing, in fact--surge of digitally distributed music. Majority of albums sold these days are either available for streaming or can be purchased as MP3 / FLACs. But still there are people--myself included--who prefer physical, tangible copies of album even if only for sake of putting it on shelf as a part of collection--fair enough. Call me hipster but I would even buy vinyls--in fact, that is the only medium I buy. So I can imagine I would still opt for physical copy. Just for joy of owning it.

The other but is that lowering barrier of entry may cause in flooding the marker with underdeveloped, unbalanced or even utterly broken games. With high costs of producing card stock copy of game, publishers would sieve out poorly designed games if only for economic reasons.
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JPotter
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Of course they would.

They're buying up wargames on Steam everyday, and doubly so while they're on sale

Just have to make sure the word gets out, the pricing is right, and that the difference between VASSAL-exclusive products and VASSAL 'companion' modules is clear..

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Kevin L. Kitchens
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Not a chance. (for me. I'm sure some would).

Vassal is such an inferior play engine (as of now). It's ok for games you already know. It's terrible for learning new games. It's not great for some multiplayer games either. Better for solo, but in the end the interface is so frustrating to use (learn a new one for each game) that it just doesn't work very well overall. Not instead of a physical game.

Now as someone stated, Steam and digital games (which bear no resemblance to Vassal ports at all) do sell well. Because they have rules enforcement, as well designed UI for the game, etc.

It's like comparing apples and orangutans.

In fact, I've been on beta test of games and then it turned out Vassal was such a pain point, that I had to give up my seat. Just too cumbersome.
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Which people? There's not much point to asking whether anybody would do so; you'd be hard pressed to think of anything that somebody wouldn't do.

If it's a roll call, I wouldn't buy it (and it's my practice to only respond to only 1 in 27,000 roll call threads, so I'll pass on any follow up questions).
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Oscar Seneru
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Personally, I'd love to see game companies develop digital versions of their product line. But NOT as a first release. The business today Demands that games published be conceptually solid. I know there are quite a few games released that are not fully developed and playtested. They are usually still solid, fixable, and end up fixed.

After all that is sorted, then, ifa game is successful enough, go digital. I don't really care if VASSAL would be the best, or cheapest way to go. Some platform would/could be developed. Then, the cost savings would likely be high enough to generate sales to a much wider market.

Dang - One might even be able to afford the ENTIRE ASL line. How 'bout that?!?!?!?!
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Daniel Rouleau
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jeb123 wrote:
Question 1: Would people buy a vassal module that was ONLY available via Vassal and did not have a physical copy to the game?

People, sure. Me, never.

Dan Verssen Games sell several of their games as PnP and Vassal, in addition to the traditional board game.
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jeb123 wrote:
To me, having Vassal modules that are free for people who purchase wargames makes a lot of sense. I would suggest that is a ‘must have’ in the industry today as explained in another thread and the fact that companies like Decision Games have made Vassal modules.

Question 1: Would people buy a vassal module that was ONLY available via Vassal and did not have a physical copy to the game?

Question 2: Would people buy a vassal module if it where priced lower than the print copy of the game? So let’s say a game retails for $60 and there is a 30% profit margin, the publisher would normally clear $24 profit per game but if they sold the game for $30 they would make more profit but the buyer would pay less.

- On one hand I say let’s not mess with a good thing.
- On the other hand, compensating a developer/publisher for releasing new Games at a very low risk could create an explosion of interesting new designs that otherwise may not get developed.

I think physical games will never go away as I would prefer to play a game face to face when possible. I think most people are of the same mind. The ideal though of getting a fully licensed version of an old out of print game is pretty appealing ...

I expect this ideal to be panned especially by people who consider themselves collectors more than players but I figured I would see what the hive mind thinks ...

(Edit for clarity)


The answer to Question #1 for me is the quality of the game. It is easy enough to include a pdf of the rules but if the game sucks, I would not buy it regardless of how cheap it is.

The answer to Question #2 for me relates to my answer to the first question. If the game is good, I would probably buy it.

As for explosions of new designs, I would point to all the magazines that have wargames in them now. Decision Games publishes three by themselves, C3I usually includes one, Paper Wars now has one and there are a couple of more out there as well. That means, at any given time, there are at least seven "latest" magazine wargames being released. It would seem that the "explosion" has already occurred and it has nothing to do with Vassal.
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Joel K
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Even the most highly polished, tricked-out, jam-packed full of convenience/automation VASSAL modules don't begin to approach the fit and finish and user experience of a basic iOS/Android/Steam game. At their worst, VASSAL modules have you clicking and dragging a squillion times over the course of a game to get things done.

At a price of free, lots of people are willing to endure this when it's balanced against likely not playing a game at all.

To generalize beyond VASSAL (a polarizing subject--many love it, many get the knives out), a modular, realtime/async capable electronic gaming system of the future seems like it'd have to offer significant value over what you see today to get people plunking down money for it (or games to play in it).

My , YMMV.
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Jim McNaughton
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Q1: No
Q2: No

If I want to play a wargame on a computer I'll buy a wargame designed to be played on a computer.
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Terry Doherty
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I suspect there might be a split between US and overseas customers. Shipping costs from the US to just about anywhere else are very high. For a big game it might cost $60 US or more to ship the game. A VASSAL only game with downloaded and printed rules and charts, might be quite desirable for non-US customers. Plus there is instant gratification in a download.

Also, I think many games are expensive enough that it becomes cost prohibitive to just try a game out to see if you like it. For myself I rarely pick up new games unless I've played them with someone else first, but that is not a realistic option for a lot of people who may play solitaire or only against online opponents.

Would some people buy the VASSAL module to try it out? Would it help if the cost of the VASSAL purchase could be applied to the cost of the print game? Then you would get the VASSAL module for free when purchasing the print game.

One last thing about VASSAL, I think the best way to play it is to attach a computer to your 60" or 80" flat screen TV with wireless keyboard and mouse. Kick back in your easy chair and play away. Doing this makes it much easier to see the entire map like you would when playing with the print game. If you're playing VASSAL on your laptop you are punishing yourself :-)

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Hugmenot wrote:
Dan Verssen Games sell several of their games as PnP and Vassal, in addition to the traditional board game.


They do, including several of their in-print games (the Field/Fleet Commander series and Hornet/Phantom/Thunderbolt-Apache Leader).

A couple of years ago, I saw that they were offering these mods at about 1/3 the price of their physical games. So I picked up the Vassal mod for Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations. It was faithful to the physical version and a tremendous pain in the ass compared to having a real map and counters.

About the same time, I picked up their app version of the original Phantom Leader, which was a joy to play. The app version did what one would hope for, making the game accessible and easy to use. The Vassal mod, not so much.

Vassal has it's uses. For PBEM or live play over distances, it's fine. As Kevin stated in his post above, it's OK for games you already know, not great for learning new games.

So to answer the original questions, No to both.
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klkitchens wrote:
Not a chance. (for me. I'm sure some would).
Now as someone stated, Steam and digital games (which bear no resemblance to Vassal ports at all) do sell well. Because they have rules enforcement, as well designed UI for the game, etc.


Careful with the blanket statements ... I refer you to Tabletop Simulator

streamliner wrote:
Personally, I'd love to see game companies develop digital versions of their product line. But NOT as a first release. The business today Demands that games published be conceptually solid. I know there are quite a few games released that are not fully developed and playtested. They are usually still solid, fixable, and end up fixed.

After all that is sorted, then, ifa game is successful enough, go digital. I don't really care if VASSAL would be the best, or cheapest way to go. Some platform would/could be developed. Then, the cost savings would likely be high enough to generate sales to a much wider market.

Dang - One might even be able to afford the ENTIRE ASL line. How 'bout that?!?!?!?!


Something about this is backwards.

Using a digital marketplace to test and refine a design, before committing to printing and distribution costs, and asking players to pay the cost of a physical game, should be the way to go.
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Robert Stuart
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jeb123 wrote:
Question 1: Would people buy a vassal module that was ONLY available via Vassal and did not have a physical copy to the game?

I would certainly consider it.

jeb123 wrote:
Question 2: Would people buy a vassal module if it where priced lower than the print copy of the game?

I would consider that, as well.

jeb123 wrote:
- On one hand I say let’s not mess with a good thing.

Agreed. We really do not want to mess, detrimentally, with a good thing. And that's a potential problem with Question 2.

At the moment we follow the honor system, which says that you may play a game on VASSAL, once, if you're undecided as to whether you wish to buy it, but otherwise may play it on VASSAL only if you (or the other person) own a physical copy. I hope the community keeps to that honor system.

And, along with quite a few others, my purchases of games are strongly influenced by the publisher's VASSAL policy.
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BrentS
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Maccyn wrote:
Q1: No
Q2: No

If I want to play a wargame on a computer I'll buy a wargame designed to be played on a computer.


.....actually a response to several posts but this was the most succinct...

For me, Vassal is purely a tool for playing a boardgame online in real time or PBEM to broaden my play opportunities and playing partner pool. Its interface is fiddly and user unfriendly, particularly for games with larger maps and more pieces.

Most modules don't enforce rules but that's how I prefer it. I want to be as close to the experience of the boardgame as I can be and I really don't like automation and rules enforcement in the modules that do have it. Taking manipulation of the game components and implementation of the rules out of my hands makes it a computer game and as others have said, not a good one. I love Vassal for the purpose it's designed to serve but as a standalone electronic gaming platform without a physical game, it's a sub-standard alternative. Better to design a computer wargame as a computer wargame (and I don't play computer wargames).

So short answer is no, I wouldn't be investing in a retail wargame designed only for Vassal.

Brent.
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Never could figure out VASSEL. Or any other programs similar. Need a class in it I guess.
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No and no.
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aesthetocyst wrote:
klkitchens wrote:
Not a chance. (for me. I'm sure some would).
Now as someone stated, Steam and digital games (which bear no resemblance to Vassal ports at all) do sell well. Because they have rules enforcement, as well designed UI for the game, etc.


Careful with the blanket statements ... I refer you to Tabletop Simulator


I stand with what I said. TTS and Tabletopia are not "Games". They are, like Vassal, virtual tabletops. And even though they are much better designed and a little easier to use than Vassal, they are still not so great and suffer from the same exact problems.
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Tony Doran
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No and no
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klkitchens wrote:
aesthetocyst wrote:
klkitchens wrote:
Not a chance. (for me. I'm sure some would).
Now as someone stated, Steam and digital games (which bear no resemblance to Vassal ports at all) do sell well. Because they have rules enforcement, as well designed UI for the game, etc.


Careful with the blanket statements ... I refer you to Tabletop Simulator


I stand with what I said. TTS and Tabletopia are not "Games". They are, like Vassal, virtual tabletops. And even though they are much better designed and a little easier to use than Vassal, they are still not so great and suffer from the same exact problems.


And yet their modules are paid content, and they do sell. Granted, they are almost all(?) adaptations of physical titles. People buy them to supplement their existing physical copy, or as a trial, or a cheap alternative.

I guess that's more an argument for VASSAL dropping the honor system and charging a minimal fee for all its modules ... but that's a revenue-sharing business, no longer a communal effort / resource. So scratch that.



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Mark Sockwell
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Davidofga wrote:
Never could figure out VASSEL. Or any other programs similar. Need a class in it I guess.



Well, there's your problem. You spelled it wrong!!

(just couldn't resist David)

Cheers,


Mark
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aesthetocyst wrote:
And yet their modules are paid content, and they do sell. Granted, they are almost all(?) adaptations of physical titles. People buy them to supplement their existing physical copy, or as a trial, or a cheap alternative.


SOME of their modules are paid content. Not most. And certainly not all.

With TTS, there are a handful (33 at this time) and they do sell (but not in the complete absence of printing of the physical game but to supplement). But the lion's share of modules for TTS are free via the Steam Workshop. Same as Vassal.

As for Tabletopia, there is a free account level that is limited in function. But with a paid membership (to Tabletopia), you get more account benefits, but still the same games + a few member exclusive ones. So essentially the same ratio as TTS.

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No to both. If I want to play a computer game, I want one which takes
full advantage of the fact that it's on a computer.
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I'd consider buying it, if the game were of interest and Vassal was the only format.
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Not me. I have never been a fan of either video or computer games (which is probably why I have never really messed with Vassal in the first place) Call me old fashioned, but I like having my hard copy. Besides, computer screens get hard on the eyes as time marches on
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