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BoardGameGeek makes a distinction between game entries (to distinguish between products) and version entries (to distinguish between different versions of products). When you come across an item that is not yet in the database, its often pretty clear whether it is a new game or a new version, but there's still a surprising amount of overlap. On this page, we list the basic ideas for determining whether to create a game entry or a version entry.
Obviously, if a new item is completely unrelated to other games in the database, it obviously gets a separate entry (provided it is in scope, of course). The guidelines below are only relevant when the new item is somehow a new version of an existing entry.
See also: BGG Guide to Game Submissions
The Basic Idea
No Changes In Gameplay
This also holds if the changes make the version incompatible with older expansions, or if older expansions will be incompatible with newer expansions.
As new versions of a game are printed, expansion content often gets added to the core game, especially previously released promo items. Such versions all get version entries under the existing game entry. The same applies when errata have been applied, or when some expansion content has been removed or swapped out. Basically, if Game X has sixe printings, with the second printing adding a promo card, the third printing making no changes, the fourth printing applying errata, the fifth printing adding the possibility of an additional player, and the sixth printing applying more errata, these are still all considered to be versions of Game X.At the same time, “big box editions” and “complete editions” sometimes get published alongside the regular game. These get a different treatment; they get a separate game entry (with links to the items that it contains). An item counts as a big box if:
Big boxes with the same combination of items are considered versions of the same big box. Just like with regular games, a difference in artwork or language does merit a separate game entry, nor does the addition of a new promo card.
Swapped Core Content
Some games have different versions where (part of) the core contents have been switched out with different contents, without affecting the actual mechanisms. These are things like different characters or teams (with different abilities), different maps, or different question sets. Such versions get separate game entries. For example, this applies to TouchMoney Game and MERCS: Recon – Assassination Protocol, to Dark Ages: Heritage of Charlemagne and Dark Ages: Holy Roman Empire, and to Timeline: Inventions and Timeline: Events.
Changed Core Mechanisms
When the actual core mechanisms of the game are changed, it is a different game. (This does not apply when the expanded content introduces new mechanisms). So, despite the connection, Twilight Imperium: Third Edition and Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition get different game entries due to the changes in the core mechanisms.
As mentioned above, all the different printings of Game X are considered versions of the same game. However, if gameplay has changed, and the publisher is clearly setting a new edition apart from earlier version, the version may get a separate entry instead. This may involve cues that on their own do not prompt a separate entry, such as the addition of a subtitle, a change in artwork, a change in theme - and loud announcements of a new edition. As such, Great Western Trail (Second Edition) and Dominion (Second Edition) have separate game entries, even though they might be considered versions.
Likewise, for older games, you'll often see that there is no explicit link between two different versions a game - titles, artwork and publisher are different, and no designer is credited. In such cases, separate entries are also appropriate when there is some change in gameplay.
There's Two Ways To Do Everything
When it comes to items with expanded content, both version entries and game entries may be correct. It will not always be clear what is the best, and our preferences have changed over time. So, there may be game entries in the database that might also be version entries, and version entries that might merit a game entry. Still, even when they go against the current preference, they are not automatically considered "wrong", which means that we will usually leave the situation as is.
Exceptions and Clarifications
Listed here are various clarifications and exceptions for specific situations.
Added Tasks or Activities
Sometimes, a game is expanded with additional tasks or activities, that don't affect the core gameplay. This is common for educational games. For example, a Memory game with a maths focus might require players to match a tile with a sum to a tile with the outcome. Even when they do not affect the actual gameplay, these added tasks usually merit a separate game entry.
Sometimes, a shop or publisher may offer a combination of items for sale as a single unit. This does not automatically imply that the combination gets a separate entry on BoardGameGeek. This depends on the packaging and whether the items are (or were) also for sale separately.
Items are sold as a bundle, but are not packaged together
If the items that are sold all pertain to the same game, they are treated as a single product if they cannot also be purchased in smaller lots. If the items can be split in smaller lots, then these are considered separate products.
If the items are different games, they are treated as separate items, and they each get a separate entry.
Items are sold as a bundle, and are packaged together
In this case, it matters if you can separate the bundle in such a way that the parts are indistinguishable from the individual items when sold separately.
Example: Architects of the West Kingdom
Example: Carcassonne Big Box
In short: if the box has any different markings from the edition without the added content (e.g. a label saying "Expansion X included" or "Deluxe edition", different graphics, or a different product code), the items should probably treated as a single item. If not, they should probably treated as separate items.
If two items credit a different designer, they get separate game entries, even if the gameplay is the same. We don't want to mix up the design credits. However, this does not apply when the design team has just been expanded.
Expansion bundles are treated in a similar manner as big boxes. In general, that means that the get a separate game entry when combining several major expansions together - but when an expansion gets expanded with some promo cards or mini-expansions, it may still be considered a version of that same expansion.
Illegal editions can get an entry on BGG, though we may remove those entries if the rights holder requests us to so. In any case, an illegal edition gets a separate game entry, to avoid making them seem legal by grouping them with the official products.
Multiple Games Packaged Together
When multiple games are packaged together as one product, this merits a separate game entry, with links to the games it contains. If these games are not available on their own, a new entry for these games may also be created. Such an entry (for a game that is not available on its own) does not get any version information (i.e. there will be no versions linked to that game entry).
When promo cards (or other items) get released as a bundle, they get a single game entry. That is, if everyone gets all the items, or none, it is considered a single item. However, is common for promo items to get combined after a while. So, promo cards #1, #2 and #3 get first given out separately, and later together, and then, in a different language, they get combined with promo card #4, etc. In such cases, the new bundles do not get a separate entry, unless they come with some kind of combined "packaging" - a box, or a title or rules card for the set.
Simplified Editions (Children's Editions, Demo Editions and Travel Editions)
Many games have a simplified version for children. These simplifications do not always affect gameplay. For example, in a roll-and-move game, the regular die may have been replaced by a color die, removing the need to count. Despite having the same gameplay, such children's versions do merit a separate game entry. The same applies to demo versions and travel versions with somehow reduced content.
Many games have special (often themed) editions, which may included some expanded material, such as Patchwork: Halloween Edition and Patchwork: Polski Folkor. These fall outside of the usual evolution of a game (i.e. Game X: Halloween Edition is published alongside the first printing, second printing, third printing, etc. of Game X). Still, such items are considered versions of the base game, unless the are clearly big boxes (following the guidelines for big boxes above) or have change core contents or change core mechanisms (as outlined above).
An exception may be made when there are many such special editions (maybe even with their own versions), so that it becomes impractical to group them all. Hence, Uno and Monopoly special editions do get separate entries (though the latter is also a result of the Monopoly Fiat.
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