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Subject: Skunking Older Games with new releases -- anyone else seeing this trend coming? rss

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Northern Rommel
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I wonder if anyone else has seen the coming horizon on this one. Wizkids and WOTC skunked their older games by releasing new versions that killed the old ones (and in Wizkids case the company). Mageknight and AAM are not exactly full wargames, but you get the point.

I am seeing a worrisome trend coming as a games collector. That is the re-release of older AH and SPI type games, that make the older one worthless. Squad Leader is the only exception I can think of where the new and old co-exist well. Now that WOTC owns AH, I was wondering what will happen if Hasbro decides to pursue this route with board games. To me it seems to tempting a profit grab for them, much in the same way that "new" monopoly or scrabble games were.

People seemed far to willing to accept this in the CCG world for the past few years, and that is what contributed to the downturn in CCG card games it seems. The companies though made their profits and laughed to the bank. Some of the bigger fish do not seem to care anymore about quality but only money, which I why I see it coming for wargames soon. Meaning it smells like our turn next.

Lets face it -- there are some former gamers that are being drawn back to board gaming, along with newer ones that remember the games that their dads or uncles taught them on. The idea of the older classics being released with new updates seems to have appeal to them. So out comes V2, and the old game is now bottom feeder auction bait.

Am I the only one concerned about this? Just curious.


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Abraham Drucker
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I'm not sure I understand your concern.

Is your concern that these companies are reprinting games such as Betrayal at House on the Hill; games which have high values on the secondary market, but will lose value on the second reprint?

Or is your concern that companies such as FFG re-design and reprint games such as Twilight Imperium (3 incompatible versions?), making version one and two obsolete?
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James Wilhelm
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I don't think you can reasonably compare CCGs and board games in this context. CCGs are driven by organized play programs, and in order to play in such an environment, you have to conform to the rules for constructing, which change relatively rapidly in many cases. By contrast, there is nothing preventing people from playing Twilight Imperium 2 if that's what they either own or prefer. Most board gamers play with people they know in small groups rather than in events organized by the developers of the game. Consequently, I really don't see obsolescence as a serious issue.

I don't really view declines in the secondary market value of the board games I own as something for concern either. They were investments in entertainment, not speculative positions created to enhance future wealth. In fact, in many cases, I would welcome reprints just to allow more people to be able to reasonably participate. Civilization is a good example. Many people do not have the desire to drop $150-$200 on Civ and Advanced Civ to be able to play a game that has been out of print for 20+ years. A reprint would bring new players into the fold in all likelihood (and yes, I own both Civilization and Advanced Civilization).

Reprints can also be a good thing by clearing up rules problems, re-envisioning old mechanics in new and potentially interesting ways, or of improving the quality of old, poorly made components. I think that the 3rd Edition of Space Hulk is a clear improvement over the 2nd Edition.

Finally, WotC has owned AH for a relatively long time (since 1995 as far as a quick search suggests). They really haven't done much with the subsidiary's previous licenses in those fifteen years. The fact that they cut all the board games without the Axis and Allies or Risk brand suggests that they are moving further from the board game market rather than pursuing it. So even if you have some concern that reprints of old games are an issue, I don't think you have to worry about WotC doing the reprinting.
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With CCGs, the turnover to new products is important for at least three reasons:

1. If all of the cards from the history of the game are playable, then new players cannot hope to build a competitive deck. The guy who's been playing for 15 years will be able to build a deck using the best of everything and squash the guy who can only buy what's in print now.

2. Rules and design clarity. Trying to maintain a balanced playing field with 15 years of cards being legal at the same time is challenging. The design team has to consider every card when they create a new one. The permutations of playtesting the environment make it likely that unforeseen combos and effects arise which require lengthy errata and rules clarification.

3. A CCG that isn't attracting new players will die. People will always be drifting away from these games. Because CCGs require that each player have their own deck, it's nearly impossible to have a real play experience with someone to whom you loan a deck. If new stuff is not in print, and the play environment isn't accessible, then those who have invested in the game are looking at a dwindling pool of opponents.

 
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NorthernRommel wrote:
Am I the only one concerned about this?


Maybe. I think the only people who should be concerned are those who bought a pile of games hoping to make money in the secondary market. Otherwise, I don't see the downside to reprinting games, whether to make additional, identical copies of a popular, but OOP game (like Glory to Rome), or even to make a newly incompatible, must-have version (like Betrayal at House on the Hill).
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If I like the older version I play that one, it is sometimes more thought through than a newer version.
I think the older versions will survive even a new release because some times people have respect for those game designers that had to work out everything with research instead of internet searches. (intellectual value), I see few games these days with research bibliography's and reference material.
On the flip side when a new game is re-researched and new information is uncovered(soviets misinformation concerning WW2 for instance) the game can take on a new meaning in the cost of life involved.
Old games are just nice to play the designers were concentrating on simulation and not playability.
Games today seem to be concentrating on playability so I find them shallow less enjoyable for me. and most of my mates.
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Seth Owen
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I really don't get the OPs point as I don't think his characterization is correct. In the case of the Axis & Allies miniatures the scale change in the miniatures was largely driven by customer requests because they wanted to be able to use miniatures compatible with the standard 15mm scale. The older versions of the tanks were never made obsolete and if players don't mind the mismatch in size then they can still use the old pieces.

In the case of WizKids the decision was made by Topps to discontinue the line and there's been a long delay while the line was handed over to someone else but the older figures can still be used.

As far as board games go the complaint makes even less sense, as they are not collectibles except incidentally. Companies are continually publishing new editions of games if they prove popular enough.
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Chad Oatman
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ftarzanin wrote:
I like the idea that old games get re-released and don't see this as a problem at all.

If an old classic was a good game, updating a game and re-releasing seems like a great way to extend the number of people who play a particular game. This is especially interesting to me if the old game is in fact expensive and hard to find game that I want!

Regarding the value of old games, I'm not that concerned ... I buy games to play them.

I think companies risk alienating their customers if they jettison an old product line for a new one as with Squad Leader and ASL but the market will ultimately judge companies on what they've done.


I agree on all counts. The only one that doesn't benefit from this is people who buy the games with the intent to make a profit on them in the secondary market. Why should they benefit at the expense of actual gamers who want to actually play the game? Not to mention, the game designer gets new royalties off of their old designs to fund future designs. I see it as a win-win. Secondary market scalpers be damned.
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Quote:
Am I the only one concerned about this?


Probably.

Give us a break. What, honestly, is better for the hobby; reprinting or re-making out-of-print, in demand games so that many more gamers can enjoy them...OR...not reissuing said games and the few collectors and resellers out there can maintain their collections and high prices?

Gah, I can't believe I spent a minute on this.
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I don't understand why the rerelease of older OOP wargames would be "concerning". What about this trend do you find "concerning"? I for one am very happy to see it, as some of my old favorites are getting great facelifts and I can look to replace my older copies, or get some games for the first time, as I missed out originally. As far as I can see, it's all good!
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Wolfgang Kunz
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desertfox2004 wrote:
I don't understand why the rerelease of older OOP wargames would be "concerning". What about this trend do you find "concerning"? I for one am very happy to see it, as some of my old favorites are getting great facelifts and I can look to replace my older copies, or get some games for the first time, as I missed out originally. As far as I can see, it's all good!


I think he made it clear with this statement:

Quote:
I am seeing a worrisome trend coming as a games collector.


As a collector - every reprint will kill your hopes for the big cash. But regardless where you look this always happened in history. Look at those who invested into horses because these stinking and dangerous iron monstrosities will never have a chance....

If you put your investments in games hoping for a big profit - well, maybe you should have bought fishing stocks or invest in balloons just in case we run out of gasoline and need something "flying".

Regardless - I agree with you DesertFox - why should I find it "concerning".

Looking at the reprints by Decision Games: They did it right with Highway to the Reich (third edition); I still like my copy of War in Europe by SPI regardless of the coming reprint; I'm still sure they did it right with Wacht Am Rhein - even if this game might have deserved another title because it is different enough from the old version IMHO.

Or looking at Compass Games - I'm glad they do the Proud Monster: The Barbarossa Campaign reprint. I will buy it to add it to my old edition.

As someone here said it: Games are an investment in fun, friends, companionship and not in money. Ans everything that broadens the base for new upcoming wargamers should be welcomed.

Wargaming is a hobby for friends - not for some spoiled rich kid who don't care paying 800 bucks for a game they might never play. Seeing some games going on ebay for prices that leave me with the statement made at Bastogne (if I remember right): Nuts!

Yes, bring on the reprints - I love to see new faces at our annual club-meeting. That's better than gettin' 50 $ more when my son might sell my games after I'm dead. I hope I can teach him that enjoying the company of real good friends is much better then selling one of these games for a fantasy-price. And let's be clear: I don't think the OP hoped for making such a profit that he could stop working when he reached 40 shake
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J.L. Robert
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As someone with more than a fair share of $100+ value wargames, I can honestly say I could truly care less if they reprint older wargames. I don't expect my game collection to supplement my retirement (though I'll be pleased if it does), and I truly pity the person who thinks of a game collection as a long term investment.
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out4blood wrote:
NorthernRommel wrote:
Am I the only one concerned about this?


Maybe. I think the only people who should be concerned are those who bought a pile of games hoping to make money in the secondary market. Otherwise, I don't see the downside to reprinting games, whether to make additional, identical copies of a popular, but OOP game (like Glory to Rome), or even to make a newly incompatible, must-have version (like Betrayal at House on the Hill).


QFT. Further, I don't see how re-publishing makes the existing game 'worthless'. You could play it before the reprint or 're-imagining' - you can still play it after. I don't see how the existence a shiny new version somehow limits the fun of playing the old one. Even if you have an old version that is somehow incompatible with the new version, the only concern I can see is if you are a completist who must have the new version and play it at the expense of the old - then re-selling may be problematic as anyone new to the game is likely to want the new, or to buy the old for a deflated price. However, if you've had a lot of fun with the old version, surely you've made your money back already?
 
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Seth Owen
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Microver99 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
NorthernRommel wrote:
Am I the only one concerned about this?


Maybe. I think the only people who should be concerned are those who bought a pile of games hoping to make money in the secondary market. Otherwise, I don't see the downside to reprinting games, whether to make additional, identical copies of a popular, but OOP game (like Glory to Rome), or even to make a newly incompatible, must-have version (like Betrayal at House on the Hill).


QFT. Further, I don't see how re-publishing makes the existing game 'worthless'. You could play it before the reprint or 're-imagining' - you can still play it after. I don't see how the existence a shiny new version somehow limits the fun of playing the old one. Even if you have an old version that is somehow incompatible with the new version, the only concern I can see is if you are a completist who must have the new version and play it at the expense of the old - then re-selling may be problematic as anyone new to the game is likely to want the new, or to buy the old for a deflated price. However, if you've had a lot of fun with the old version, surely you've made your money back already?


In some cases a reprinted version of a game will become the new "standard" and older editions of the game aren't likely to see much play, but that's the case with nearly any consumer product where there's innovation. For one example, I expect the new FFG version of Cosmic Encounter will become the standard version of the game played by most fans in a way that the Avalon Hill did not. On the other hand, if you have a perfectly serviceable old edition of Diplomacy the later Avalon Hill reprints are nothing but good news because they expose more people to the game, but didn't do anything to make your edition less useful.
 
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J.L. Robert
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wargamer55 wrote:
...I expect the new FFG version of Cosmic Encounter will become the standard version of the game played by most fans in a way that the Avalon Hill did not...


[tangent]

That's mainly because Avalon Hill simply produced the base game, then dropped the series without adding ANY of the expansion components which made the original version take a life of its own.

Myself, I'm going to stick to my Mayfair Edition for some time yet. I personally think all of the pretty plastic and fancy bits distract from the gameplay of Cosmic Encounter. I prefer the utilitarian aspect of the Mayfair edition, plus having all of the alien races (after adding More Cosmic Encounter) helps keep it fresh.

[/tangent]

We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion...
 
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Michael Dorosh
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Alphawolf wrote:
As a collector - every reprint will kill your hopes for the big cash.


Why would it? A 1st edition is still a 1st edition.
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Mark Britten
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J.L.Robert wrote:
As someone with more than a fair share of $100+ value wargames, I can honestly say I could truly care less if they reprint older wargames. I don't expect my game collection to supplement my retirement (though I'll be pleased if it does), and I truly pity the person who thinks of a game collection as a long term investment.


And also, I'm not sure how reprints would affect the value of earlier editions of games. It doesn't with books.
 
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The biggest problem I have is that when a rare game I own is reprinted as an improved version I have to try really hard not to buy the new one.

If I wanted to make money by selling my old games I would have done so some time ago when I believe that War in the Pacific was going for $500+ at auctions. In hindsight I should have sold the and used the money to buy the new version and the new Highway to the Reich

Oh well, I am not in the slightest concerned about reprints, they are IMO a good thing.

To compare to the movie industry does the remake of the Italian Job render the old film valueless? I think not.
 
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Alphawolf wrote:
As a collector - every reprint will kill your hopes for the big cash.


Why would it? A 1st edition is still a 1st edition.


With few exceptions, the reprint causes the value of the first edition to drop - precipitously.

I think it has to do with gamers valuing new over old and most gamers are players rather than collectors. The size of the collector's market is really too small to support the 'industry of collecting games. There are far more people interested in books than in games.

Another way to look at it is to compare board games to the market for computers and computer games. Each generation of computers is more powerful and has better graphical capabilities so there is no real reason to keep the older stuff. Even when the actual game play might be better better on an older system the newer stuff has that 'newness factor' and the current generation of gamers much prefers the new flashy games that came with the new generation of computers to the 'old stuff' which are perceived as boring or dull.

It is possible to make money investing in board games, but you probably really have to know the market and the product well to make any money, given the time scale. Shipping and storage costs will most likely eat you alive.
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Seth Owen
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martimer wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:
Alphawolf wrote:
As a collector - every reprint will kill your hopes for the big cash.


Why would it? A 1st edition is still a 1st edition.


With few exceptions, the reprint causes the value of the first edition to drop - precipitously.

I think it has to do with gamers valuing new over old and most gamers are players rather than collectors. The size of the collector's market is really too small to support the 'industry of collecting games. There are far more people interested in books than in games.

.


And even with books, we're really talking about a select few that ever have any collectible value. The vast majority of books depreciate upon first sale to a small fraction of their value and never recover, so I don't find it surprising that the same happens to games. Your point about comparing games to computers also has some validity. As a product meant to be used in an interactive way similar to computers, games have some sensitivity to advances in the state of the art that don't really apply to books.

It's true that some old editions of a few select games fetch decent prices on the collector's market, but there's usually a story behind that unusual retention of value.
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NorthernRommel wrote:
I wonder if anyone else has seen the coming horizon on this one. Wizkids and WOTC skunked their older games by releasing new versions that killed the old ones (and in Wizkids case the company). Mageknight and AAM are not exactly full wargames, but you get the point.

I am seeing a worrisome trend coming as a games collector. That is the re-release of older AH and SPI type games, that make the older one worthless. Squad Leader is the only exception I can think of where the new and old co-exist well. Now that WOTC owns AH, I was wondering what will happen if Hasbro decides to pursue this route with board games. To me it seems to tempting a profit grab for them, much in the same way that "new" monopoly or scrabble games were.

People seemed far to willing to accept this in the CCG world for the past few years, and that is what contributed to the downturn in CCG card games it seems. The companies though made their profits and laughed to the bank. Some of the bigger fish do not seem to care anymore about quality but only money, which I why I see it coming for wargames soon. Meaning it smells like our turn next.

Lets face it -- there are some former gamers that are being drawn back to board gaming, along with newer ones that remember the games that their dads or uncles taught them on. The idea of the older classics being released with new updates seems to have appeal to them. So out comes V2, and the old game is now bottom feeder auction bait.

Am I the only one concerned about this? Just curious.




If what other people can have compared to what you have upsets you, you are not a gamer, you are a collector.
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Hammy wrote:
The biggest problem I have is that when a rare game I own is reprinted as an improved version I have to try really hard not to buy the new one.

If I wanted to make money by selling my old games I would have done so some time ago when I believe that War in the Pacific was going for $500+ at auctions. In hindsight I should have sold the and used the money to buy the new version and the new Highway to the Reich :(

Oh well, I am not in the slightest concerned about reprints, they are IMO a good thing.

To compare to the movie industry does the remake of the Italian Job render the old film valueless? I think not.


Or, you can have a great company like Z-Man, who offered FREE replacement decks to make the 1st edition compatible with the 2nd edition.
 
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Boy, I do not get this at all. Anything that makes good games accessible to more people is clearly the best option for the hobby. To try and restrict access to good games to try and maintain a cost point is really the skunky attitude.
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Alphawolf wrote:
As a collector - every reprint will kill your hopes for the big cash.


Why would it? A 1st edition is still a 1st edition.


If you are not also a collector but someone who is looking for an OOP game you pay less bucks. Example: A buddy sold his copy of Guderian's Blitzkrieg II for 800 bucks. Try now to get the same amount for the same game especially since the reprint has passed the "magic mark".

Same if someone would go and reprint Streets of Stalingrad (third edition) and would - for whatever reasons - go with a 5000 print run - the market with its high prices would be flushed down the drain. Also for The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen. These games fetch high prices because the amount was - for whatever reasons - limited and the demand could not be fulfilled.

So if you are not looking for the first print-run of this game with its "produced in xxxx" on the box or a different cover but you just pay these high prices for gettin' and playing the game every reprint will kill the money you could have for this game (that's IMHO the reason why you see these games pop up on ebay shortly before the game is announced to be reprinted).

I'm sure you agree to this as I agree to your statement - I think we're looking at it from different ankles. If you are looking for the first print run of Monopoly everything that came behind wouldn't be important. Or some of the Nazi-Games that were discussed here recently (by which I hope we would never see a reprint). These old games will still fetch high prices from collectors - but I assume they will meet at "Collector's Geek" and mostly not here. laugh

But I doubt the OP had this in mind or had the "good ol' games from the 30s in his "perfect condition, sealed room".


(well, I just should have read the replies of Seth Owen and Martin Gallo and just nod in agreement - thanks guys) thumbsup
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