BGG Wargame Rankings Are Less Than a Joke

Hi Guys,

Just dropped in on the wargame rankings for the first time in 3-4 months. I guess I haven't been there since BGG changed the system. What they have done is take a system that was an unmonitored joke, frequently hijacked by company fanboys (Yeah, including our own), and made it worse. Trivialized it in fact. Now, with the heavy emphasis placed on the number of ratings it is little more than a measure of company size.

There are numerous companies, and I hope that LNLP is one of them, that publish high-quality, well-designed, wargames. Wargames that stand a real good chance of nabbing 8.5 and higher ratings from objective, mature, raters. Unfortunately, only the well-established companies with dominant market shares will ever get the number of ratings necessary to see their game at the top of the rankings. And make no mistake, these rankings matter. Not so much to individuals, but hugely to time-challenged resellers and distributors, who often place orders based on BGG rankings.

The system, as currently implemented, works against industry growth and innovation. Works against gamers seeing new games on fresh topics. Works against new publishers.

The fix? BGG could go a couple of ways, both start with a return to a 30-50 rating base. I propose 50 ratings, as that would tend to mitigate the initial rating spike. Ratings should either be supervised. By this, I propose a brief check. For example, does the guy who just gave Combat Commander a 1 rate all GMT Games 1, and all Worthington Games a 10? If so, disallow the vote. Or another alternative would be to require a simple 250-word play report with each rating. Would that reduce the number of ratings? Sure. Would it make them foolproof? No. Would it help? Sure would.

Would these suggestions (and I have more) require effort on BGG's part? Well of course it would, but make no mistake. BGG makes money from these wargame publishers. Money in both advertisements, and money in pages views that translate into higher ad rates (I've worked in the EE industry for over a decade. I have a REAL good idea of what Ubisoft is willing to pay for its advertising). I suggest they use some of the money to help the hobby (and themselves) and give us genuine and realistic ratings of the games.

Final caveat...this is not a publisher problem, it's a BGG problem. I have nothing against the larger publishers. For example, I'm a huge GMT fan, Combat Commander is one of my favorite games. By the same token, I understand that even small publishers, such as Academy Games, have highly-raked games, but let's get real. Conflict of Heroes is an aberration. An outstanding game, perhaps the best-selling wargame in the history of wargames, but the entry price into BGG's top ten wargames shouldn't be to design the best wargame of all time.

Come on Geek. Let's give everyone a chance.

You can comment on BGG, if you like. Here's the original post:

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Comment by Jon Compton on February 3, 2010 at 2:05pm
I have no evidence whatsoever one way or the other. I just wanted to know how you know that. Having been in contact with several distributors myself recently, none have mentioned that criterion. I will ask next time I speak with them, however.
Comment by Mark H. Walker on February 3, 2010 at 9:57am
Good point. Thanks for the input.
Comment by Charles Féaux de la Croix on February 2, 2010 at 9:58pm
You're free to disagree, but note that among wargamers the new ranking has been pretty well received. Indeed, many, such as I were patently unhappy with the previous one. Which, as you quite rightly say, was a joke. What we now have is actually something of a return to the original wargame ranking they had.

> Ratings should either be supervised. By this, I propose a brief check. For example, does the guy who just gave Combat Commander a 1 rate all GMT Games 1, and all Worthington Games a 10? If so, disallow the vote.

That's already the case on BGG. There's an algorithm that factors out such abnormal rating.

> Come on Geek. Let's give everyone a chance.

Everyone has a chance. Simmons Games is a one-man show, I believe, and his Napoleon's Triumph is ranked 6th.

The past rankings entirely failed to reflect what's popular among wargamers. The reintroduction of Bayesian Ratings has turned the list from one featuring niche wargames to one in which those games lots of players actually enjoy and play, i.e. the most popular wargames.

I'm for one very happy with now having a ranking that actually deserves to be called such. And BGG incidentally puts a lot of work and thought in these sorts of things. I think you ought to not dismiss that so casually.
Comment by Mark H. Walker on February 2, 2010 at 3:44pm
Personal contact with 56 resellers and distributor reps over the last six months. Do you have evidence to the contrary?
Comment by Jon Compton on February 2, 2010 at 9:10am
Mark, what's your evidence for that?
Comment by Mark H. Walker on February 2, 2010 at 7:12am
Yep, the distributor thing is my point. 70% of our sales are to distributors. I promise, no I guarantee you, that every Internet reseller (store) and every, single distributor, relies heavily, if not exclusively on BGG rankings.
Comment by Chuang Shyue Chou on February 1, 2010 at 9:53pm
I will admit that I generally do not bother with BGG rankings when it comes to purchases.
Comment by Mark H. Walker on February 1, 2010 at 7:40am
The Geek is entertaining, but it's current policy toward wargames hurts the industry. To be honest, and I'm not disparaging them, I doubt wargame problems are on their top-ten lists of concerns. The site is focused on Eurogames and Ameritrash that's where their money comes from.
Comment by Smitty on February 1, 2010 at 7:08am
I love the Geek but it serves as an industry de facto standard. As such it owes the gamer and the industry an effort to address certain of its challenges.

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